Q: Help! I don’t think I’m pumping enough! How do I pump more milk?
Read over our answer to question five to be sure you’re not dealing with a caregiver overfeeding issue first! If your caregiver is paced feeding, and your baby is drinking 1 to 1.5 ounces per hour away from you, but you’re pumping output isn’t keeping up with baby, remember that you’re not alone! Many others have had similar struggles.
“When you are a working and breastfeeding mama, there will be days that are good, bad, and ugly: good days when everything goes well, bad days when you can’t fit scheduled pumping in due to work, and ugly days when you can’t seem to get enough milk, no matter how many pumps you buy or rent,” said Maria Briseño, a Certified Lactation Counselor, Breastfeed Chicago board member, La Leche League Peer Counselor, and one of the moderators of our Facebook group, and Chicago Community Health Worker trainer, health coach, and preventative care navigator.
Tips for Pumping More Breastmilk
We want to help make more of your days at work good ones! Here are some tips for increasing your daily pumping output:
- The first tip is from Tytina Sanders-Bey, a Certified Lactation Counselor, Breastfeed Chicago board member, and one of the moderators of our parent-to-parent breastfeeding support Facebook page. “Before work, nurse your baby on one side and pump on the other simultaneously,” Sanders-Bey recommends. “Do the same thing once you get home. This will help you stash some extra milk.”
- Use hands-on breast massage to get more out! This video about hands-on pumping is an oldie but a goodie. (Fast forward to minute 1:30 for info on how to use massage to get more milk out.)
- Add another pumping session in while at work.
- Check your flanges for cracks and holes that affect suction. Replace the little white circle-shaped membranes on the pump parts which can also get loose and affect pumping output.
- Try a manual pump instead – some people get a surprisingly large amount out with manual pumps.
- Watch videos and look at pictures of your baby on your phone while pumping to encourage more letdowns!
- If it isn’t possible to add a pumping session in at work, buy a pump car adaptor to pump in the car during your commute to and from work. While your car is still in park, put on a hands-free bra, hook up your pump parts, start your pump, and then start driving. Turn off the pump when you’re finished pumping, but wait until you arrive at your destination to unhook everything.
- If you take the train to work, bring a manual pump and a nursing cover and squeeze in another milk removal on the go.
- Add a pumping session in during the evening after your baby goes to sleep for the first stretch of the night.
- Add a few pumping sessions in over the weekend to start the week with a buffer of a few ounces.
- Bring a heating pad to work and use it to warm up your breasts and your pump parts before pumping. Feeling warmer and more comfortable can help encourage letdown. We hear good things from many parents about these flaxseed-filled breast packs.
- Rent a hospital grade pump, which may remove milk more efficiently from your breasts than a personal pump.
- Try the “Jiggle, Roll, Stroke” technique after your milk letdown ends, which helps some people have another milk letdown.
- This one is usually every working parent’s least favorite suggestion, but it’s effective. Add a late-night or middle of the night pumping session in to keep your supply strong. If your baby sleeps through the night, your body may need to add more milk removals to reach your magic number of milk removals needed for long-term supply.
Going back to work and breastfeeding? This question is part of Breastfeed Chicago’s Ultimate Back-to-Work Breastfeeding Guide. Read the full guide to help the transition go smoothly!