When I was struggling to breastfeed and get more milk when pumping with my last baby, the articles I read focused largely on the foods I could use to boost my milk supply. While those were definitely important, just changing my diet did not work!
Yes, eat as healthy as possible and drink enough water, but it takes a bit more than that for me to get a healthy supply of milk. With some experimentation after my latest birth, I’ve been exclusively breastfeeding my baby and getting 4-6 ounces per breast during each pumping session.
Pump Somewhere Quiet
According to KellyMom, “Stress can affect let-down and pumping output,” so I always try to start off pumping somewhere quiet. Sometimes I put on soft music, usually a lullaby rendition of a band I like, and try to get as comfortable as possible. For me, I get more milk when pumping in the morning while my baby is sleeping next to me. She seems to like the quiet hum of my breast pump, and having her close helps my let down. I also sit near her to pump when my husband/an older kiddo feeds her an evening bottle. The sound of sucking can even give me a second let-down.
If you aren’t able to be with your baby when you’re pumping, try recording a few videos of your baby nursing, sleeping, or even quietly playing. Then watch those while you pump. Whatever helps you get into your momma zen place.
Breast pumps are extremely clinical, especially if you’re also trying to get more milk when pumping but are used to a warm baby buried on your nipple. To get my milk flowing, I close my eyes and actually imagine nursing my baby. I try to make it as vivid as possible, and I can usually tell how successful I am by how quickly I can turn off the expression mode on my pump. Once I get a good let down, I can move onto reading or blogging and relax while my pump does the work.
Massage and Lift (Yes, Lift) Your Breasts
Everything I read told me to massage my breasts to help get the milk flowing, and I definitely do that at the beginning of a pumping session and periodically throughout it. However, I also lift my breasts to encourage any milk trapped at the bottom to get moving. Doing this took me from pumping 2-3 oz per session to between 4 and 6 ounces depending on the time of day.
In the mornings, I only pump one side, and this is generally my most productive part of the day. In the evenings, I try less to get more milk when pumping and more to get enough to keep my supply up and sleep comfortably. All together, I am able to nurse to meet the needs of my 3 month old and pump an additional 13-15 ounces each day.
Use the Right Pump
After being completely let down by Medela with my second daughter, I did exhaustive research on which breast pump would help me comfortably get more milk when pumping. There was no way I was living with nipple pain again! For hours I read about flange sizes, open and closed systems, size and loudness (for when I go back to work), and comfortability.
I settled on the Spectra S1, and I highly recommend it! At a third the price of a Medela, it’s also cheaper alternative to the Spectra S2 which has just a few more bells and whistles than I need. I’ve used it since Jojo was about 4 weeks old, and it is the closest thing to a baby suckling that I’ve ever felt. It’s also a closed system, so cleaning is a breeze.
Here’s my setup:
Add these to your Amazon cart to save for later:
- Spectra Breast Pump
- Pumpin’ Pals (for uber comfort when pumping)
- Pump Directly in Bag Adapters
- Lansinoh Bags
- Compact Pump Carrying Bag
Now, whether you use part or all of this setup is totally up to you! The most important part, though, is to find what best meets your needs.
It’s also super important not to obsess over how much you’re pumping–that just creates more stress and less milk output. Take your pumping one 10-15 minute session at a time, and remember, variations in the amount of milk you pump are totally normal. They can signal your baby is going through a growth spurt or just that your schedule has been off recently.
Don’t be afraid to seek out support if you need it. KellyMom.com is a great source of information about breastfeeding and pumping, and La Leche League often runs free support groups and meetings for breastfeeding moms.