How I Pump 50+ Ounces of Breast Milk Daily

Pump Breast Milk

I’m currently working on qualification to become a compensated donor to a milk bank, following my surrogate pregnancy.  It’s a tedious (and very necessary) process of bloodwork, paperwork, etc., not unlike the process of becoming a surrogate—though it’s not quite that long.

When the parents and surrobabe were still stateside, I was pumping milk for the baby.  However, they’ve since returned home and I’m currently just filling my freezer with breast milk and waiting for approval from the milk bank. 

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some tips with you for pumping gobs of breast milk successfully!  Whether you’re an exclusive pumper, exclusively breastfeeding working mom, or just a mom trying to build up her milk supply…these tips can help you pump more milk!

Steps to More Breast Milk

1. Get a good breast pump!

With the majority of insurances being required to cover breast pumps thanks to the ACA, many moms are able to get their hands on a good breast pump for little to no cost to them.  However, insurance coverage varies widely from provider to provider and plan to plan.  And much like insurance, not all breast pumps are created equal.

Having a good breast pump is crucial to success in expressing the maximum amount of breast milk.  Hospital grade breast pumps are often available for rent from your local hospital or Babies R Us, such as the Medela Symphony.  However, this cost can get expensive and is relatively impractical because of their bulk and lack of portability.

A better option is the Medela Pump In Style Advance or, my personal favorite, the Spectra S1.  These are both options that work really well and can be used portably, though the Medela will require a battery pack and/or car adaptor to be used without a plug.  A good breast pump is one that your body responds well to and makes all the difference in your pumping journey!

2. Make sure your flanges fit.

Many women make the mistake of using whatever flanges come with their pump without ever considering that they have other options.  An incorrectly sized flange can have a detrimental effect on your supply because you likely won’t be efficiently emptying your breasts.

Breastshield Sizing Guide MedelaBreast Flange Sizing

These diagrams from Medela are a good starting point for reference, though you might want to visit a lactation consultant or your local La Leche League if you’re having trouble.  The average or standard size breast pump flange only fits about 45% of women.  For Medela shields, that’s a 24mm shield.  I, personally, have to use at least a 27mm shield. Bra size has nothing to do with breast shield size! 

If you’re using a Medela pump, Wal Mart and many other local retailers carry some of the other size shields.  However, you might have to order online for some other pumps or certain sizes.  Sometimes hospitals carry extra sizes, so if you’re in dire need, call your lactation consultant/local hospital.

Related Post: Nursing Pad Options Compared

3. Eat and drink plenty.

In general, nursing moms need around 500 extra calories per day than non nursing women.  Many women see a dramatic drop in milk supply in the event that they start a dramatic calorie reduced diet post partum.  Focus on eating healthy calories and staying hydrated in order to remain healthy and produce lots of milk.

4. Pump often.

If you’re exclusively pumping, then pumping 6 or more times a day is essential—especially in the early weeks and months.  Consistently pumping every 2 to 3 hours is ideal and at least once in the middle of the night.  If I manage to squeeze in 8 or 9 pumps in a day, I usually end the day closer to 60 ounces than 50.

If you’re breastfeeding and pumping, you can try and pump after every feeding or pump one breast while baby is on the other and alternate.  Another option is to add a pump in after the last feeding before bedtime and/or after the first morning feed and consistently pump at those times every day.

Related Post: Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

5. Power Pumping

If you’re just not happy with where your supply is at or maybe you’ve been a bad pumper, then power pumping is the most effective way to build your supply.  Power pumping consists of an hour long pumping session: 20 minutes pumping, 10 minute break, 10 minutes pumping, 10 minute break, 10 minutes pumping.  You can do this twice a day for as many days as you like and should yield an increase in supply within a day or two.

What tricks do you use to maximize your milk production?  Have you tried any of these tips with success?  Which is your favorite?

Breast Milk

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The Right Way to Freeze Breast Milk

Efficiently Freeze Breast Milk

When I was an exclusive pumper with my first born, I was totally clueless that there was a right and wrong way to freeze breast milk.  My bags were thrown into my freezer in lumps and frozen in all sorts of weird shapes and sizes.

This was so inefficient, but I was so oblivious to it, even though it seems obvious now.  I guess when you’re a new mom, though, it’s easy to overlook the simple things.  We’re so overwhelmed with new, new, new that I totally get why I spent almost a whole year freezing breast milk in ugly lumps.

Also, nobody ever told me any different.

Well, here I am to tell you that there is a right way to freeze breast milk.  It will save your freezer space and maybe even a little bit of your sanity—y’know if you’re a little bit of a perfectionist like me.

Storing Breast Milk

Freeze Breast Milk Flat

This is the right way to freeze breast milk, in my (and many others’) opinion.  If you’re pumping for a milk bank for donation then this is definitely the most efficient way to freeze, seeing as the only other option is bottles.

A tip my sister gave me before the birth of my youngest was to use an empty wipes container to freeze my Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags. They fit perfectly which makes it even better. It's a great alternative to pricey storage solutions that promise the same thing. Why not use something you already have that costs a lot less. 

Breastmilk Store in Wipes Container

However, you can easily freeze breast milk flat without the use of a wipes container.  Now that I’m exclusively pumping for a milk bank post-surrogacy, I simply lay the bags flat on the shelf in my freezer of my fridge.  Another great tip is to freeze between two cookie sheets because then your bags will be flat on both sides.

Breast Milk Cubes

Another option for moms is to freeze breast milk in cubes, like ice cubes.  When I briefly did this, I used Munchkin's Click Lock Fresh Food Freezer Trays, but many other—probably better—options are available.  If I was to do it again, I’d probably use a tray designed for freezing breast milk such as Milkies Milk Tray or a flexible silicone tray such as this one Nuk offers.

Freezing breast milk like this can be convenient as many tray options allow you to freeze in 1 ounce portions, so you can thaw exactly what you need, when you need it.

However, it can also be a real pain to get the cubes out of the tray.  You also have to be mindful of properly storing the breast milk to avoid freezer burn.

Breast Milk Freezing

Proper care of breast milk is important so that the hard work of pumping doesn’t go to waste.  Any mom who’s ever dumped a few ounces of her pumped milk knows that crying over spilled milk is absolutely fine!

How do you store breast milk?  Are you guilty of freezing ugly breast milk lumps at one point, too?

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Foods that Boost Breast Milk Production

Milk-Supply-Food-Drinks3
Ever heard of lactogenic foods?  These are basically just foods that are chemically beneficial to the production of breast milk and could, potentially, help increase your milk supply.  Many moms struggle with low milk supply and producing enough breast milk to satisfy their baby.

This can sometimes be amplified by returning to work and/or not responding well to the breast pump while away from baby.  Other than nursing or pumping often, certain foods can naturally benefit lactation.  Whether you eat these foods raw or whip them up into a yummy cookie recipe is up to you.
Lactation-Drinks3

Drink

  • Water
  • Lactation Teas
  • Coconut Water
  • Barley Water
  • Some imitation coffees
  • Ginger Ale
Milk-Boosting-Foods3

Eat

  • Carrots
  • Asparagus
  • Green Beans
  • Yams
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Watercress
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Peas
  • Beets
  • Oatmeal
  • Brown Rice
  • Barley
  • Most grains/legumes
  • Avocados
  • Raw almonds
  • Cashews
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Apricots
  • Green papaya
  • Parsley
  • Salmon
Breastmilk-Herbs-Spices3

Spices & Herbs

  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Onion
  • Basil
  • Fenugreek
  • Dill
  • Marjoram
  • Turmeric
  • Fennel

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30+ Recipes For Boosting Lactation

Breast Milk Boosting Recipes
Breast milk production is heavily influenced by supply and demand from baby (or pump, if you’re an exclusive pumper).  However, sometimes that just doesn’t seem to be enough and we need a little extra lactation boost.

Certain foods are known to help increase milk supply for breastfeeding and pumping moms.  To help stave off boredom with eating oatmeal everyday, all day—or one of the other lactation superfoods—some pretty genius moms have come up with a variety of recipes that can help boost milk supply.
Lactation Drinks Smoothies Shakes

Lactation Smoothies & Shakes

Gluten & Dairy Free Lactation Recipes

Lactation Cookie Recipes & Baked Goods

Lactation Cookies & Other Baked Goods

Other Milk Boosting Goodies

lactation-recipes-roundup

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Your Comments About My Pregnancy Are Not Wanted

Pregnancy Comments
As I get more pregnant, people get more loose lipped and brazen with their assumptions, comments, and so-called jokes.  I am just shy of 39 weeks pregnant when writing this, so it’s quite obvious that I’m pregnant.  I get that.

And I don’t mind the polite questions or conversation, even if it is repetitive and I’ve already had this same conversation with 5 million other people.  Or the fact that I’m a surrogate and some of the questions (well, a lot of the questions) don’t even really apply to me.  However, I don’t want to have to explain being a surrogate to every. single. person.

Related Post: 6 Reasons Your Kids Don’t Belong on Facebook

In case you’re wondering, it’s really not that cute or funny when you’ve heard something like, “Wow, you look like you need another one” for the third time in a day.

I’d also like to make a PSA that any of these types of comments are not appreciated either:
Things Not to Say to Pregnant Women

You need the lay off the cheeseburgers.

Are you serious right now?  This isn’t appropriate to say to anyoneEver.  It’s just rude.  I get that you’re just acknowledging my obvious pregnancy, but I could definitely do without the acknowledgement if this is how it’s going to be done.

You’re not suppose to swallow the watermelon seeds.

My intense eye rolling cannot be conveyed appropriately through a blog post, but I’ve heard about 100 too many watermelon related jokes.  Or basketball references.   It’s really not that cute.

Related Post: 14 Quick Breastfeeding Facts

There’s something wrong with the water here.

Believe it or not, we (the pregnant ladies) are not all congregating around you on purpose.  Just because there are two of us in the same county, doesn’t mean you have to go on and on about the quantity of pregnant women in the area.

You haven’t had that baby yet?

No.  Thanks, though, for pointing out that I’m still pregnant.  I didn’t notice myself.

Any comments about my size/baby’s size.

Oh you think baby is going to be huge?  Oh you think I’m huge.  Well, I surely appreciate your unnecessary assessment.

Related Post: 4 Reasons to Cloth Diaper

Try this instead…

Okay, so once when walking through the grocery story, a young woman passing me by simply smiled and told me, “Congratulations.”  I don’t know if it was because I was 30+ weeks pregnant or what, but I felt like that was the sweetest, simplest gesture anyone could make.  I didn’t get hounded with questions by a (well meaning, I’m sure) stranger.  She just simply congratulated me and I kind of wanted to hug her.
No Pregnant Jokes
I think it’s important to remember that we are pregnant for 40 (sometimes very long and miserable) weeks.  Our hormones can be crazy.  Our emotional state may be questionable.  And it can get really outrageous with all the comments, questions, and so on from friends, family, and complete strangers.  Instead of cracking a joke, try a kind and simple gesture.  If you’re close to the person, offer a hand.