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!
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.
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?