How to Pump More Milk

The question of how to pump more milk comes up at least once a week.  Sometimes from moms pumping for their babies in daycare, other times from mothers just looking to get enough milk for a date night or an appointment.  

Most recently, Genesee, a client who’s since become a dear friend  asked how to pump more milk.  Genesee texted me the “before” photo above on the left.  This photo is from both breasts combine after 30 minutes of pumping without using any of the techniques listed below.  As you can see, there’s hardly enough to cover the bottom of the bottle.  It’s blue-tinged and a watery consistency.  While this milk is perfect fine for baby, she’ll need more, and ideally with a higher fat content.  

I gave Genesee a list of ideas to try.  The next day, Genesee texted me the “after” photo above on the right.  Using some of the techniques described below, she was able to get 2 ounces from one breast in only 20 minutes!  Genesee noticed the milk was creamier the second time as well.  This is what Genesee said about her experience:

Pumping has always been stressful, since I would spend 40 minutes and get less than an ounce from both breasts on a good day and on a bad day, I would not get even one drop. I felt disheartened, thinking that I would not be able to express  enough milk to even be away from Baby for even a couple of hours if needed. I tried other things to help, like thinking of Baby, looking at pictures and videos of him, but it only minimally increased my supply. I reached out to Amanda for support.  She sent me some information on how to massage the breasts before and during pumping, and about hand expressing.  I tried it immediately and WOW!  I went from pumping hardly anything to getting two ounces from one breast! This felt like winning the lottery! Pumping is so much less stressful now and it does not take me any more time to produce more than double the milk! I do this now each and every time I pump! I feel like I can trust my body to provide for my son, and now I have a reliable way to express milk! I am still working on the hand expressing part…it takes practice!

Whatever your situation, there lots of ways to increase the amount of milk you pump or express.   Below is just a “buffet” of ideas.  I encourage you to try “hands-on” pumping first, but always do what works best for you.

  • Make sure pump parts are in good working order.  Some parts need to be replaced often

  • Consider being fitted for the correct flange size

  • Use “Hands-on Pumping” which is describe in this video

  • Nancy Mohrbacher’s blog post about Hands-on-Pumping including more videos

  • Massage the breasts and move them around a little before pumping.  Gently stretch / pull the nipple to help release hormone your body needs to make the milk flow.

  • Some moms are able to hand express more milk.  Touching the breasts releases more of the hormone needed to trigger a let-down.  This video does a great job explaining how to hand express milk.  Hand expressing does take practice so don’t give up on the first try!

  • More studies are showing how guided imagery can help increase milk flow.  The reason is because stress can inhibit the hormone that tells the breasts to let-down the milk.  This article provides more details as well as an audio track.  You can also use relaxation and mindfulness techniques on this blog.  

  • Pumping one side while baby nurses on the other. 

  • Pump first thing in the morning.  Set up your breast pump the night before so you can pump before getting out of bed.  Many mom have found they have more milk in the early hours.

  • Look at pictures / videos of your baby, listen to a soundtrack of your baby crying, smell something baby wore.  If your baby is in the NICU, try pumping near him or her.

  • Don’t watch the collection bottles!  Use a blanket or nursing cover.  

  • Lastly, make sure you have realistic pumping expectations.  Many mothers think that they should be able to pump 4-8 ounces per pumping session, but even 4 ounces is a rather large pumping output for a mom who is breastfeeding full-time.

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Flourish Baby is committed to diversity and inclusion. Amanda Dean supports all birthing, breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and human milk feeding families, inclusive of their race, ethnicity, immigration status, national origin, creed, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, family structure, primary language, ability, or socio-economic status.

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