Using a breast pump to draw the milk from the breasts can assist a mom with creating, maintaining, and increasing the breast milk supply, particularly when done regularly and frequently. Whether you are pumping exclusively for your baby or pumping between and after the breastfeeding sessions, the action of breast pump stimulation, as well as completely draining your breasts, are things that can encourage your body to produce more of this liquid.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll take a closer look at some essential things every mother should know about increasing her milk supply:
Using the Right Breast Pump
When choosing the model of a pump for the power pumping, every mother should opt for a high-quality electric or a hospital-grade model. Models that are operated by hand (manual pumps) and smaller battery-powered devices are completely okay when it comes to occasional use, but they’re not very suitable for increasing and maintaining one’s milk supply. The reason is quite simple – these devices are not strong enough for it.
Double pumps, on the other hand, are a good investment – they’re fantastic time-savers and are an ideal choice for moms who are pumping exclusively.
Having the Right Mindset
When trying to increase the milk supply, some mothers might start thinking that the sessions are pointless as they don’t immediately notice any results. The key is in focusing on the stimulation – don’t think about how much of the liquid you’ve managed to express, particularly during the first week of pumping.
The supply changes can vary significantly among women, but many of them report noticing a difference after only a couple of days of extended expression sessions. This is why it’s critical to focus on the stimulation, and not on the amount of collected liquid.
Using the Pump in a Correct Way
When power pumping to increase milk supply; a mother has to use her device correctly. In order to achieve the best results, we advise you to thoroughly read the manufacturer’s instructions that came with your model. Also, don’t forget to check if your device is in good working order before you start using it.
Ensuring the Fit of the Breast Flanges
Another essential thing is making sure that the pump flanges (also called “shields”) fit you properly. This would be the part of the pump that covers the user’s breast and nipples. Using flanges/shields that are too large or too small can cause a myriad of different breast problems, such as damaged tissue or sore nipples.
Preparing a Snack & Drink
While you’re pumping, it is entirely possible that you’ll start feeling hungry or thirsty. For that matter, make sure to place some healthy food and a glass of water (or juice) close to you before you begin with the session. When they’re within your reach, it will be very easy for you to refresh yourself during the pumping with a snack or drink.
Getting Ready & Making Yourself Comfortable
Prior to pumping, it’s vital to select a breast milk container that fits your needs and to thoroughly wash your hands. The comfort is also essential – you’ll be using the pump for the following 20 or 30 minutes, so make sure to get yourself into a comfortable position.
If your baby will take the breast, make sure to breastfeed it first and only then use the pump. On the other hand, if you’re pumping exclusively, you’ll have to express the liquid as often as possible in order to simulate its production. If you can, aim for every three hours.
Spending Time in Skin-to-Skin Contact with Your Baby
Various studies have proven that the so-called “kangaroo care,” or the direct skin-to-skin contact between the mother and her baby, can lead to an increase in the breast milk supply. In case your newborn is in the hospital, and you’re unable to breastfeed it, consult the staff about using skin-to-skin contact as often as the child can tolerate it.
Applying Moist Heat to the Breasts
Prior to pumping, you could try placing wet and warm cloths over your breasts. The warm, moist heat can assist in bringing about the flow of the precious liquid.
Thinking About the Baby While Pumping
Pumping while you’re near your child is something you should do whenever possible. If you’re unable to do so and you’re away from the baby, relax and think about it. Holding a blanket or a piece of cloth that carries the smell of your child, listening to a recording of its voice, or looking at its picture can assist with getting the milk flowing by stimulating your let-down reflex.
Pumping for 10-15 Minutes on Both Breasts
Pumping one breast at a time requires the mother to switch back and forth between them whenever the milk flow stops or slows down to just a couple of drops. In case you’re using the device on both breasts simultaneously, you should pump until there’s a complete stop of the flow and continue only after a small break (a couple of minutes). While pumping, make sure to stroke or massage your breasts as this can also help with the flow.
Ask your lactation consultant or the doctor about galactagogues. Using certain herbs and medications while pumping can be of great assistance when trying to increase the overall milk supply.
However, an important thing to mention here is that using these herbs and medications on your own won’t help you very much. Stimulation, together with the complete removal of the liquid from your bosom is required if you’d like to notice any results from using your galactagogues. For that matter, make sure to engage in pumping sessions as often as you can.
Two medications worth mentioning here are Reglan and Domperidone. Although they aren’t intended for increasing a mother’s milk quantity, they still have a side-effect of doing so. They can raise prolactin levels by blocking dopamine receptors, and both of them work within just a few days of use.
It’s important to mention that Reglan should not be used by mothers with a history of depression since severe depression is its possible side effect.
Eating Booster Food
Eating lactogenic food is another thing that could assist you in increasing the supply. However, it’s important to mention that eating these natural boosters won’t help you at all if you’re not emptying your breasts often enough. Also, do it in moderation and try just one thing at a time – don’t just purchase everything and end up disappointed after you find out that nothing works.
These are the most popular boosters:
The easiest way to consume oat is to make overnight oat and then simply eat it as your standard breakfast. Making overnight oat is very simple – soak a cup of it in a container of milk over the night. You could also put some toppings on it, such as chocolate spread, peanut butter, or various fruits.
Fennel is an herb that can be very helpful with triggering the so-called let-down reflex. It is, therefore, highly beneficial for mothers who don’t respond well to manual and electronic pumps.
This plant is very popular among mothers and is also quite affordable. However, it is also a plant that can lower one’s blood sugar level, so be careful with it.
Black seed oil
Black seed oil is known to help with quick refilling of the breasts.
Storing the Pumped Milk in a Safe Manner
Once your pumping session is over, it is crucial to store the collected milk in a correct way. Breast milk is not something you’d like to leave out at room temperature, frozen, or refrigerated. When it’s stored at the right temperature and in an appropriate container, this liquid can be stored for half a year (six months) or even longer.
Keeping the Breast Milk Storage Equipment, Tubing, Flanges, and the Pump Clean
After each of your pumping sessions, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions and thoroughly clean and wipe down your device and its tubing. Use hot, soapy water to wash the storage containers and the breast shields. After that, rinse all of the equipment as well as you can and allow it to dry completely. This will make the gear ready for the next use.
Taking Care of Yourself
When taking care of the baby, it’s very easy for the mother to forget about taking care of herself, which can have quite an adverse effect on the milk supply. For that matter, make sure to get some rest when you can, drink a lot of fluids, and also try eating a well-balanced diet.
When to Consider Power Pumping to Increase Milk Supply
If you have a low milk supply
Many different things can cause low breast milk supply. However, pumping after and between the feedings, as well as breastfeeding more often can greatly assist in increasing the amount.
There was a problem at birth
In case your baby needs special care or was born with an illness of some kind, you will probably be separated from him or her right after the birth. Power pumping should let you begin with building up the supply of milk while you’re waiting for the child to be put to your breast.
Your child was born prematurely
Depending on how much prematurely your baby was born, you won’t be able to breastfeed it for a certain period. Pumping in the meantime will assist you in increasing the supply.
You Are Adopting
A woman’s body does not know that breast milk is needed if the woman doesn’t go through pregnancy and delivery. This is precisely why it can be quite challenging to create a proper milk supply for breastfeeding a baby that has been adopted.
However, it’s not something impossible to achieve. If this is your case, try pumping while using herbs and medications that can boost the milk production.
You are separated from your baby
If being separated from your kid is unavoidable due to a vacation, business trip, or hospitalization, you should pump in order to maintain a supply all the way until you’re able to breastfeed again.
You’d like to re lactate
In case you have completely stopped breastfeeding and would like to begin nursing again, you should pump to increase milk supply.
You’re having hormone problems
Some of the health conditions that affect hormones are known to decrease the milk supply, such as the PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) or hypothyroidism. If this is your case, you should see a doctor – a correct treatment of these conditions is of crucial importance if you’d like to breastfeed your child.
Furthermore, using your breast pumping device between the nursing sessions is guaranteed to stimulate your body and increase the supply of milk.
You’re dealing with breast issues
Pumping can also be helpful in case you had breast surgery or if you have hypoplastic (underdeveloped) breasts.
You have to go back to work or school
A mother doesn’t have to stop breastfeeding if she has to go back to work or school. Many mothers who work or go to school breast-feed their babies twice a day – in the morning and the evening. While they’re away from home, they do some pumping to maintain a healthy milk supply – it’s the main advantage of power pumping breastfeeding.
If you decide to go for this, you’ll find that pumping and collecting this precious liquid at work is entirely possible. This will allow you to provide your caregiver with a bottle of milk that she can feed the baby with while you’re away from home.