This post is for all the pumping mamas wondering how to increase milk supply for pumping. We’ve discussed, asked and consulted our lactation consultant to put together 8 simple steps for increasing your milk supply for pumping. There are 8 keys to unlock more milk supply while you are pumping.
8 Key Steps To Increase Milk Supply for Pumping:
Empty breasts more often
Check flange size and fit
Check pump function
Nightly Pump Sessions
Early Morning Pump Sessions
Single-sided pumping while nursing one side
Milk boosters and diet
Empty breasts often when increasing milk supply for pumping:
The secret code to more milk supply is to empty your breasts more. If you want your body to make more milk, you need your body to think there is more of a demand. You can do this by trying to get your baby to breastfeed more often, and adding more pumping sessions in between feedings. The best times to add in these pumping sessions is when baby usually takes a long nap, or is sleeping in the night. As babies get older, they tend to sleep longer through the night, which unfortunately is a great time to add a pumping session.
You can also empty your breasts with baby during a feeding, wait a bit, then empty them again to signal to your body that baby needs more milk.
Power pumping with a twist:
Power pumping is a great way to increase your milk supply for pumping. What moms forget is that baby’s connection to your breasts is a large part of supply and demand. So we suggest more than power pumping. We suggest power nursing and pumping together.
The key is to nurse baby first, wait about an hour, then pump as much milk as you can. From there, wait another hour or so and nurse baby again. By then, it’s been a couple hours since baby last fed, which means you may be able to get them to eat again. Then pump another hour after that feeding. Your body will be more connected to baby, and required to produce more milk.
While you are power pumping, be sure to drink a Milk Dust shake! Many mamas have experienced a dip in supply just from missing one smoothie in the morning. Add some oatmeal to your smoothie, and you will be able to help keep your milk supply up during these exhausting pumping and feeding sections.
No matter what stay positive. This can be discouraging at first, when the pumping isn’t producing many ounces. Your body will need some time to catch up, so power through it!
Check your pump flange fit:
This is one of those steps many moms think aren’t really that important. But, the fit and size of your flanges can make or break a few ounces. Medela has a great guide on how to get the fit of your flange just right. Here is a great video on that as well to guide you in this process.
Check your pump functions and suction:
It is always a good idea to check your pump function and suction when you are trying to increase milk supply while pumping. If you’ve been using your pump for a while, it could be losing suction. If you notice a drop in your milk supply, and you haven’t changed anything, maybe your pump isn’t sucking well. Here is a guide on how to trouble shoot your pump.
If you aren’t getting the milk supply you want, definitely check into your suction on your pump. Sometimes just switching to a manual pump can help you see if your electric pump isn’t working well. Many moms love the Haakaa pump as an alternative to their electric pump. This one also works well while nursing baby on one side, and pumping milk on the other.
Nightly pump sessions to increase milk supply:
Pumping moms NEVER want to hear how powerful the nightly pump sessions can be for increasing milk supply. No one wants to finally fall asleep, or get their baby to sleep, then wake up in a couple hours just to pump. But, as baby learns to sleep longer, sometimes 4 hours at a time, your body may still be ready to feed the baby in a couple hours. Taking advantage of those moments, when baby is sleeping longer than normal, can really help with getting more milk. Hopefully it doesn’t have to happen nightly for weeks, but hopefully it will be a few nights in a row to get your supply up.
Early morning pump sessions (before baby feeds):
Pumping before baby has their early morning feeding is another key to increasing milk supply. Sometimes this will work without having to do the nightly sessions, depending on how much you need to increase your supply. Let’s say you pump at 2am, and baby usually wakes at 6am. Getting a pump session in at 5:30am, will be super helpful. Your body will be getting ready to provide milk for baby, and then that milk will get pumped into the bottles. Then, your body will still need to feed baby after, which it will. This encourages the extra production, without having to pump tiny amounts at a time.
Single-sided pump and nursing sessions:
One trick to pump more milk is to pump one side, while baby nurses the other. While breastfeeding the baby on one side, the other side will let down. Catching that milk, and stimulating that side as well can really increase the amount you pump. Baby will still need to nurse on that side, which will help stimulate more milk production. Alternate sides with this method to keep it even, and you may find it really helps a lot.
Milk supply boosters and nutrition:
Many mamas don’t realize that just adding a lactation supplement of some kind can make a huge difference. Supporting your body from the inside out is actually really important. Our Milk Dust protein powder, and Milk Dust Bars are really yummy options to add to your diet.
The Milk Dust shakes are either smoothies or just blended with water. They offer hand-picked nutrients for breastfeeding mamas that support lactation and postpartum hormonal balance. Providing your body with key nutrients can dramatically change the amount of milk you are able to store!
Milk Dust is particularly effective for breastfeeding and pumping mamas because it targets nutritional needs as well as offering a unique lactation blend. There are very few products on the market that do this, and we are very proud of our formula.
We offer a great bundle, the Milk Dust Starter Pack, where you get a sample pack and 4 bars to see how they work for you.
Here’s what one mama on Amazon said after using Milk Dust,
My son almost 3 months old, with milk dust, I’ve been able to build up a healthy freezer stash for us as well as donate over 1000oz to other moms and their babies.
I have a milk dust smoothie for breakfast or after a workout. I’m 3 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight. The flavor is great, it mixes well into all my favorite smoothies. I could not ask for a better product! – Trisha Byrd
Hydration can actually make a big difference when trying to increase your milk supply while pumping. Think of breast milk as a liquid, and our body needs extra liquid to produce more liquid. Water is really important, but also low-sugar drinks with electrolytes can be very beneficial. The added sodium, potassium and magnesium these drinks offer can help balance fluid levels. Many mamas find that natural drinks like coconut water, or powerade make a difference within an hour or so. This is because fluid levels are balanced, and our body is well hydrated to produce more milk.
The 8 key steps to increase milk supply for pumping are gathered from pumping mamas and professionals. These are the top 8 steps that have worked for many other mamas.
There are a variety of things that can cause breast pain when you are a breastfeeding mother. One nursing problem that results in breast pain is a clogged duct. This condition is sometimes referred to as a plugged milk duct. It results when milk flow is disrupted for some reason in an area of the breast.
A clogged milk duct can lead to an infection, so it is really important to catch it early, and hopefully clear it out before it results in a round of antibiotics.
What does a clogged milk duct look and feel like?
A clogged duct will result in a hard lump in your breast. The size of the lump can vary from pea- sized to considerably larger. It is usually tender, and often the skin is reddened where the lump is. It may feel warm. It is sometimes accompanied by a white spot on the nipple called a milk blister or bleb. Some moms also notice some additional heat in one side, where the breast seems warm. This is one of the earlier signs that may help you catch the clogged duct before it results in an infection. One study reported that 4-5% of breastfeeding mothers experience a clogged duct at some point during breastfeeding. If you find yourself in this unlucky group, you can usually get rid of the clogged duct on your own.
How to treat a clogged Milk Duct:
If you feel a hardened area in your breast, try massaging that area at your next feeding or pumping.
Get behind the lump and massage in the direction of your nipple. Using a special lactation massager or even the end of an electric toothbrush can help get rid of the lump. The massaging motion can help dislodge the lump, so it can pass through.
When you latch your baby, try to position him so that his chin is pointed in the direction of the lump.
Your baby’s chin will massage that area of the breast help it drain more thoroughly. If these simple measures are not effective, the next thing to try is to apply some moist heat to the clogged area about 20 minutes before the next feeding. A trick that moms use is to put warm water into a clean disposable diaper and apply that to the affected area. Make sure that you don’t make it too hot. You don’t want to cause a burn.
Alternatively, you can just wet a washcloth with warm water and castor oil and cover it with some plastic wrap to keep in the heat.
If you can’t get your water warm enough, you can put the wet washcloth in the microwave for a few seconds. Again, don’t let it get too hot! Doing a warm compress with castor oil has also been useful for many mothers suffering from a clogged duct. When you feed after applying the moist heat, again position your baby with his chin in the direction of the clog. Continue massaging the area throughout the feeding. You can also employ these measures if you use a breast pump.
Try massaging the lump in the shower while expressing milk.
This is a trick that usually works well. By standing in the steam and heat of the shower, you can massage and express the milk without worrying about it leaking all over. The hot shower beating down on the area can also feel really good, and be very effective when combined with a manual massage. Try taking a shower in the morning and evening, in addition to the other tips to really get that clogged duct to move.
It may take more than one session of applying the warm packs, massaging and showering to resolve a clogged duct. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t go away entirely right away, just keep at it to avoid any infections.
Why am I getting a clogged milk duct?
The most common causes of a clogged duct is something that prevents the milk from flowing freely. Tight clothing and carriers are on the list, among a few other things that can affect how your milk flows. Overall, it is really hard to say what specifically is causing a clogged duct, but here is a small list of items you can control:
Poorly fitting bras
Some mothers find that if they sleep on their side, that can cause an episode of a clogged duct. Mothers with abundant milk supplies tend to get clogged ducts more often. This includes mothers of twins or triplets as well as those moms who just produce a lot of milk.
Most often, mothers with an oversupply experience clogged milk ducts.
If you have an oversupply issue and you pump a lot, decreasing pumping can help reduce your supply. If you have gotten used to pumping to keep from getting uncomfortably full, then you should gradually decrease how much milk you pump every couple of days. If a baby has a shallow latch or an ineffective suck, this can result in poor draining and could be
the cause of a clogged duct. Missing feedings can also lead to clogged ducts. This can happen when your baby starts
sleeping longer stretches at night. If you find that you get repeated cases of clogged ducts, you will want to take care not to miss feedings. Keeping a manual pump in your purse when you are out without your baby allows you
to pump some milk off.
Complications of a clogged duct:
If a clogged duct is not resolved, it potentially can turn into a case of mastitis. Mastitis is a breast infection. If you get mastitis in addition to a tender lump that is red, you will also have a fever and flu-like symptoms. Mothers report feeling very sick when they get mastitis. It requires treatment with antibiotics. Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of mastitis. The key is to treat the infection very quickly, so you can feel better with baby right away.
A healthy diet can help reduce chances of infection.
A healthy diet can actually be super helpful in preventing an infection from happening. Try eliminating sugar and simple carbs, which cause chemical reactions in your body that allow bacteria to feed and grow faster! Milk Dust is an amazing nutritional supplement low in sugar, and high in antioxidants to help keep your body in a more alkaline state, and hopefully less-likely to get infected! Milk Dust also has a great 10-day detox program, to help you stock to a healthy diet, that will keep your immune system working strong!
How to prevent clogged milk ducts:
While most moms who get clogged ducts will only experience this breastfeeding problem once, there are some moms for whom it is a recurring problem.
If you suffer from repeated episodes of clogged milk ducts, you should get in the habit of feeling your breasts after feedings to ensure that all areas have drained well. At the next feeding, massage any areas that didn’t drain well. Lecithin is a dietary supplement that some moms take to help prevent recurring plugged ducts. Taking 1200 mg 2-4 times a day has been recommended. Fortunately, most moms will not have to deal with this breastfeeding problem. But if you find that
you do, you now have several ways to deal with it.
The decision to be an exclusively pumping mom comes from a variety of reasons. Breastfeeding doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes babies won’t latch. Some babies are too sick to breastfeed. There are moms who don’t want to breastfeed but do want their baby to get their breast milk.
Whatever the reason, exclusively pumping moms have their own unique needs and concerns. If you are struggling with breastfeeding issues, the thought of being an exclusively pumping mom may sound like the perfect answer to your problems.
However, the reality is that it is time-consuming and a lot of work. These tips and tricks will help the exclusively pumping mama make the milk she needs while maintaining her sanity.
How To Have a Good Milk Supply
Follow these rules to build and maintain a good supply of breast milk:
Have a good breast pump! – This cannot be emphasized enough.
A hospital/rental grade pump will be the most effective and efficient to establish a full milk supply.
Are there parts in your pump that are supposed to be replaced regularly?
Are all the connections and seals tight?
How many hours has the pump been used?
If you are using a personal pump, try renting a hospital-grade pump. If your supply increases, a new pump may be needed.
Call the pump company for a replacement if your pump is still in warranty.
Pump Kit Cleaning Tips
One challenge of exclusive pumping is the fact that you have to pump, feed your baby the pumped milk, and you also have to clean your pump parts after each cleaning. The CDC recommends thoroughly cleaning your pump kit after each time you use it.
These pump cleaning hacks can help save you some time.
Have multiple pump kit pieces. This way, you do not have to wash and dry your kit every single time.
You need the breast pump shields and connectors (sometimes these are one piece).
Pumping directly into bags means no bottles to wash.
Use breast pump wipes or sanitizers for cleaning when you are out and about.
Use breast pump kit steam bags to sanitize your pump parts.
Put your pump parts in the dishwasher.
Miscellaneous Tips for Exclusive pumpers
Have a supply of spare parts for your pump. Some things need to be replaced regularly. But even a brand-new part can be defective.
Always have a manual pump on hand for emergencies.
Keep a manual pump in your diaper bag as a back-up when you are out.
You may not be able to find a convenient place to plug in your electric pump.
A battery pack may have lost its charge.
If your budget allows, have a hospital grade pump for use at home, and a personal pump to take when you are on the go.
Time Saving Tips for the Exclusively Pumping Mama
Hands-free pumping bra – moms swear by these. It will free up your hands to do other things while you are pumping.
Hands-free pumps like the Willow and El Vie allow you to pump while you are doing other things. You can pump while you are feeding your baby a bottle, or even while you are in the car.
These pumps plug into an outlet to charge and fit into your bra.
Exclusive Pumping Schedules
The number of times a day a woman must pump to maintain a full milk supply will vary from mom to mom. Some moms have breasts that can store a lot of milk and can pump less frequently. Other moms need to pump more often because their milk production will slow down if their breasts get past a certain point of fullness.
Experiment to determine the number of times you need to pump.
Start with eight times a day.
Decrease to seven times and wait three days to see if your supply decreases.
If your supply stays the same, try decreasing by another pumping.
Continue until you see a decrease in supply. At that point, you would go back to the number of pumpings that produces the amount of milk you need.
Some moms can pump as few as four times a day and still produce e full milk supply. Other moms may need to pump 10-12 times a day.
Exclusive pumping may be a lot of work. However, giving your baby the gift of your breast milk is worth it.