If you want to pump to increase breastmilk production and maximize the amount of milk you can make, you need a good quality breast pump and you need to know how to use it correctly. What is the best way to use a breast pump to get the most benefit?
Recommendations for pumping can vary, but there are a few tips I know that have worked well for lots of moms.
Effective milk removal every 2-3 hours during the day and at least every three hours at night, for a total of at least 8 times in 24 hours, is a good plan to increase breastmilk supply. Pump for 15-20 minutes with correctly fitted flanges that are lubricated to reduce friction. Edible oils are best, like coconut or olive oil. Food grade lanolin is ok too.
When a baby breastfeeds, suction and compression work together to achieve good milk removal. A breast pump can only provide suction, and mothers often tell me they feel there is milk left in the breast after a pumping session. Babies pause frequently but the pump doesn’t, so pumping longer that 20 minutes at one time is generally not recommended as prolonged pumping can cause breast and nipple tenderness. What you can do is pump for 10 minutes and rest for 10 minutes, alternating, for an hour.
Another option to increase breastmilk, one that is proven to work very well, is hands-on pumping. Hand expression combined with pumping will remove more milk than either of these milk expression techniques alone. Click here for a video from Stanford University’s Dr. Jane Morton on how to increase breastmilk and maximize milk production with hand expression.
The foundation of a good milk supply is frequent and effective milk removal. Breastfeed when you can, since a baby that is nursing well is the best option for building your milk supply. When you do need to pump, you’ll get the best results by becoming an active participant in the pumping process and developing your own personal style.
If you’ve found a pumping plan that has worked well for you, please share it by commenting below.