The amount of information out there regarding increasing pumping output can be a bit overwhelming. So a good piece of advice anytime you’re in a place of information overload is to bring things down a notch and go back to basics.
In the case of pumping, you want to go back to a key principle of milk production—
The more the breasts are signaled to make milk, the more milk they will produce.
Before you begin using your preferred method/s of increasing milk production, make sure you don’t already have a hearty supply. Increasing milk production when all is fine and your baby is gaining weight well and pooping/peeing often, can lead to an overproduction of milk supply.
An oversupply not only creates uncomfortable breasts for the mom but also makes feeding unpleasant for a baby. Too much milk can feel like a strong hose of milk coming at your baby and can get in the way of your little one’s willingness to nurse.
However, when milk supply is in fact an issue, the following ways can help you increase the amount of breastmilk you produce in 24 hrs.
1. Shake ‘em
If you lean forward a bit, turn your forearms over, form fists and gently shake your breasts, you can help bring more milk towards the front area of your breasts. Your pump flanges focus on the area around the areola and nipple, and so you will likely see an increase in output when you shaky-shaky!
2. Trick your breasts
After pumping for seven minutes or so, stop the pump, massage your breasts and pump for another seven minutes. Stopping and starting again will signal two different pumping sessions and support the supply and demand principle of milk production.
3. Pumping brought to you by…
Utilize commercial time during a favorite show to pump and increase your supply. Pumping during short periods can allow you to increase the number of times your breasts are stimulated in a 24-hr period, and won’t feel as taxing to do because your light at the end of the tunnel is getting back to a favorite show!
4. Mindset is everything
When you’re trying to increase milk production you might think some sessions are mostly pointless because you’re not seeing any milk collected at the bottom of the bottles. But remember that you want to primarily focus on stimulation, not so much on how much milk you’re getting, especially during the first week of trying to increase your supply.
Supply changes vary among mothers, but many do report seeing a change after even a few days of increased pumping sessions ?. So make sure your mind is focused on stimulation not simply on how much milk you’re seeing collected in the bottles, during a session.
5. Size sometimes matters
An incorrect flange size can lead to less breastmilk output. You want to make sure your nipple moves freely, with some space around it while moving in and out of the flange center. Similarly, if the flange is too big for you, you’ll usually see a circle behind your areola after pumping,
6. Breast spa
Before pumping, massage your breasts, using the palms of your hands and finger pads. Like step number one, this will help move more milk forward and increase your pumping output. With so many milk ducts on the breasts, massaging can help allow for better milk flow when you begin pumping.
7. Tag team pumping
In this case, the ones participating in the tag team are your hands and the pump. While pumping hands-free, use your hands to perform gentle breast compressions. You can incorporate rest periods of compressing to enjoy a cup of tea or respond to a friend’s text, but then do a tag team and allow your hands to act as your output helper.
8. Less breastmilk equals more breastmilk
Huh? Well you read correctly. Pumping about 15 minutes after your baby has nursed, will do a good job at draining your breasts. Although the breasts are never truly empty, less milk remaining in your breasts, after a nursing session, will signal the body to make more milk.
9. It takes two
You’ll hear lots about pumping both breasts simultaneously for time efficiency. Yet besides the time factor, double pumping increases Prolactin, which is the hormone that increases milk supply. So when it comes to pumping, two is always better than one.
10. The underrated nap
As parents, we’re often longing for many hours of consecutive sleep and a nap may not feel worthwhile based on its duration. However, even some period of rest can not only help you feel more refreshed and give you that much needed second (parenting) wind but also help increase milk supply, since Prolactin increases when you’re pumping. Win-win!