If you are planning on pumping for your baby, there some tried and true breast pumping tips and tricks that will help you boost your milk supply and get more out of each pumping session.
You might want to start pumping before heading back to work or maybe you want dad to be able to give a bottle every now and again. Regardless of your motivation, pumping can be stressful if your supply drops or you find yourself checking your output every few minutes.
Luckily there are some things you can do to maintain your milk supply whether you are exclusive pumping or just adding pumping to your nursing routine.
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I exclusively pumped my second baby for 6 months after she wouldn’t latch and I felt like every single minute of my day was taken up either by pumping or thinking about when my next pump should be and how many oz I needed.
If you are wondering about pumping breast milk instead of nursing, my guide to exclusive pumping is for you.
Regardless of what kind of breast pump you decide to use (I wouldn’t recommend hand-expressing unless you are desperate and engorged and need instant relief), you can dramatically increase your supply and make pumping more enjoyable (yes really!) with these breast pumping tips for more milk.
Related: How to Cut The Cost Of Having a Baby
How long does it take to increase milk supply?
If you follow some (or all) of the pumping tips below, you should start seeing an increase in milk production within a week, if not sooner.
Power pumping seems to result in a fast increase quickly, although it can be time consuming. See the bottom of this post for a Power Pumping schedule to follow.
Breast Pumping Tips For More Milk
1. You (and your milk!) are what you eat!
You are likely wondering what you should eat to increase your milk production.
The truth is, your body uses a lot of energy producing breast milk so you need to eat enough calories.
Eating plenty of good, clean food is fantastic but there are certain foods that help your body produce breast milk.
One idea is to incorporate super foods that can increase your milk supply into your daily diet. To start with, you could add a lactation smoothie into morning routine.
Check out this list of 21 Milk Boosting Smoothies For Breastfeeding Moms for some great lactation smoothie recipes. The smoothies all include some of the milk-producing foods below:
Top lactagenic (milk producing) foods
- Oats – Try oatmeal every morning. Costco also makes something called Aussie Bites that people swear by for milk supply)
- Flax – sprinkle some ground flaxseeds on your oatmeal
- Fenugreek and Milk Thistle – I like this Organic Breastfeeding Supplement as it contains Fenugreek Seed, Fennel Seed & Milk Thistle which are all proven to boost supply.
- Brewers yeast – Warning – this tastes gross. Add it into oatmeal cookies to make tasty lactation cookies with a kick.
- Popcorn – Yep, another one that people swear by and worth a try
- Dark beer – try a glass of Guinness or stout for a milk boost
One of the most common questions women ask when they start pumping is “Do you still lose weight if you pump breast milk?”
Personally, I did not find the weight came off as easily as when I was nursing. I really had to maintain my calories in order to keep my milk supply steady which definitely did not help with the baby weight.
2. Water Intake = Milk Output
Make sure to drink enough water. I noticed a huge difference in production when I drank more throughout the day. You will probably find you are more thirsty anyway when you are breastfeeding but drink even more than you think you need. The best thing is to keep a bottle of water at your pumping station at all times.
If you like hot drinks, you might like to try a cup or two of Earth Mama Organic Milkmaid Tea every day. This tea is quite tasty and contains fenugreek and fennel seed.
3. Pump and Nurse at the same time
If you can wangle the gymnastics of pumping and nursing at the same time you will boost your milk supply by using baby to stimulate the lactation hormones plus you will save a lot of time!
4. Get a Hands-Free bra for pumping
Once I had been pumping for a while, I clued into the wonder that is hands-free pumping, I seriously can’t believe I ever pumped using my hands to hold the pump up.
You can buy great dedicated hands-free bras, I know the Simple Wishes Hands Free Breastpump Bra comes really highly recommended but if you are a cheapskate like me, you can make your own hands-free bra pretty easily.
I bought the Ahh By Rhonda Shear Women’s Seamless Leisure Bra in black, nude and white and wore them throughout my third trimester when underwire just wasn’t comfortable anymore.
Once I started breast pumping, I cut holes in the bras for the pump flange to fit in and, voila! Hands-free bras. Nothing beats the site of a new mom standing at the stove making dinner while pumping away. Now that’s multitasking!
5. Use a photo of your baby
This is one of those strange breast pumping tips that seems to be a bit silly but have you ever noticed that you leak milk when your (or any) baby cries? Your hormones are naturally reacting to the sound of the baby. In the same way, looking at your baby or even a photo of baby while pumping can help to increase your pumping output.
6. Get a good nursing cover
A nursing cover of some sort should be on every new mom survival kit. It will allow you to pump on the go. I pumped at airports, in parks and while driving. I even went through the Drive-thru a few times mid-pump! My cover made sure no one was any the wiser and helped me actually get out of the house while on a pumping schedule.
There are tons of covers on the market in different fabrics and pretty designs. I found the best one to be a double (triple) duty model that doubled as a scarf, car seat cover and nursing cover for on the go like these stretchy ones from Carseat Canopy
Use promo code SEASIDE100 to get the car seat/nursing cover of your choice for free at Carseat Canopy.
Check out this post for over $500 of baby freebies for new moms and babies
7. When should you pump to increase your milk supply?
First thing in the morning is your best bet!
Your milk supply is at it’s highest between 2am and 5am so the earlier you can pump, the better, especially if you are trying to build up a freezer stash.
I sometimes found that I got more in my first pump of the morning than in all the other pumping sessions combined.
If you are breastfeeding too, you need to make sure to pump either after your baby’s first feeding or to give enough time between your morning pump and the first feeding for your breasts to fill back up.
8. Make Every Drop Count
It’s not called liquid gold for nothing. To avoid wasting even the slightest drop of milk, consider getting a pair of Milkies Milk-Saver Breast Milk Collectors. These funny looking cups go over your breast and catch every last drop of milk. They are really good for women who leak a lot or for catching milk when you are pumping or nursing on the other side.
9. Download a pumping app
Seriously, you need one! This is by far the number one thing that changed my pumping experience.
Being able to track my pumps, the baby’s input and calculate my freezer stash was priceless. You can mess with different scenarios and see how much milk you need to have stored to make it to one year/9 months/whatever your goal is.
You can also detect patterns and see if foods or medicines are making a difference to your supply. The gold standard app is definitely Pump Log. It’s not a free app but the best I have found. You can also check out some of the free apps from breast pump manufacturers such as Medela too.
It is only available for iPhone at the moment but hopefully, an Android version will come shortly.
10. Make sure your flanges fit
Now here’s something that took me months to discover – the parts that come with your breast pump might not be the right size for you. A tweak to either larger or smaller flanges (the horn part of the pump) can result in a huge increase in milk production.
If you find that your pumping output is decreasing or pumping hurts, make sure to try some different sizes out. You can buy spare pump parts on Amazon.
11. Break out the coconut oil
Yes, the holy grail of modern women strikes again. Do not, I repeat, do not pump without using a little Coconut Oil on the flanges as lubrication.
I find it cheaper and more effective than lanolin, plus it smells like a tropical vacation. You can also use your coconut oil for making lactation cookies as a double bonus.
12. Add in a Power Pumping session
If your supply needs a boost or you want to keep up your supply after being sick or a missed session, try adding in a power pumping session for a few days. Below is a sample power pumping schedule that you can do once every couple of nights for a week until your supply increases.
Power pumping works by signalling to your body that the baby needs more milk. Your body then starts to product more naturally. It is basically mimicking the cluster feeding that your baby does when they are going through a growth spurt.
You can power pump at any time of day but I typically did it in the evening once my daughter was asleep. I sat back with a cup of Milkmaid Tea and Netflix and the time passed quickly!
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