One of the most common questions we get at 1 Natural Way is how to increase milk supply. We get it. When you’re in the early days of breastfeeding, nothing is more stressful than worrying about how much milk you’re getting for your baby. It’s normal.
A great way to address your unique, individual needs is to schedule time with a Lactation Consultant, a trained professional who will work one-on-one with you to sole your supply (or other) issues. Plus, most women qualify for free lactation consultations through their insurance plan!
There are, however, some tried and true tips to increase milk supply - and it’s always helpful to understand a little more about the big picture as well!
How to Pump Breast Milk
Whether you choose to exclusively pump, supplement nursing with pumping or you simply want to use a breast pump to increase your milk supply, you can most likely get a breast pump through insurance. Most women have access to a free breast pump, as well as options to upgrade with an out-of-pocket contribution.
After it arrives, you’ll need to learn the ins and outs of the breast pump. It may seem daunting at first, but after learning the basics of your pump, you’ll fast become a pro.
How to Begin Pumping
- First, wash your hands with soap and warm water before starting and find a comfy seat.
- Create a good seal with the breast pump flange. You might find that it helps to moisten the flange with water.
- Center the nipple in the middle of the flange before starting the pump.
- Most electric pumps will begin with a letdown phase - shorter, faster bursts of suction that mimic the initial suckling your baby would do in order to stimulate letdown. It will take a few minutes until letdown happens. After a few minutes (around the time letdown happens) the pump will switch into regular mode.
- Don’t default to the highest level of suction. You’ll want to start at a low suction and increase it when the milk starts flowing. Only increase the pump to your personal level of comfort.
How Long Should I Pump?
Aim to spend 15 to 20 minutes (per breast - of course, you can pump both a once with most pumps) hooked up to the pump to get a good amount of breast milk. Some mommas may need 30 minutes or more on the pump, especially in the early days). Pump until the milk starts slowing down and your breasts feel well-drained.
How to Know When A Breast Is Empty
Your breasts are constantly in milk-making mode, so they won’t ever be “completely” empty. But there are a few tips to make sure you’re getting the most possible from each pumping session:
- For one, simply begin to move the flange around your breasts and apply tension to different sides where you feel like you could possibly pump more milk from.
- Also try using moist heat to loosen up the milk ducts and create a smoother flow.
- Massaging your breasts while pumping will also help.
How Much Milk is Normal?
Most women produce colostrum in the first one to three days after birth (maybe just drops) and their milk “comes in” between days two and five. Many see around 6-10 oz. per day at the five-day mark and eventually reach an average of 25-35 oz. per day - some women can see 25 oz. at two weeks and some may have to wait longer.
As with ALL things in our bodies, milk production can be affected by stress, illness, diet, medications - you name it. It is normal for output to vary from day to day. Having an occasional low-amount day is not unusual.
Also, moms who breastfeed their baby and pump to increase their milk supply will pump less per session than moms who exclusively breast pump.
Does Pumping More Increase Milk Supply?
YES! If you're pumping at home to stockpile milk or to increase your supply, try pumping an hour or so after your baby’s morning nursing session. Your breasts are naturally fuller earlier in the day, so the morning is a good time to get more milk.
Power pumping is also a great way to increase your milk supply. To learn more about power pumping and the best schedule for you, click here.
Signs Your Milk Supply is Decreasing
It’s common for your milk supply to ebb and flow, but it’s good to know the signs of decreased production. A few things to look out for include fussiness or increased nursing demands from baby, breasts feeling softer than they used to, and the ceasing of breast leaks.
Of course, these symptoms may seem like your breast milk supply is decreasing, but they may have nothing to do with your supply at all! When in doubt, contact the professionals. Reach out to your physician and/or lactation consultant. They’ll be able to provide you with the answers and resources you’ll need to ensure your baby has a full tummy.Sources: