Many mothers struggle to increase breast milk supply after giving birth. Pumping is one of the most effective ways to increase breast milk supply whilst promoting better flow for yourself and your baby. This article highlights important tips for mothers who are struggling to maintain a steady flow.
Use the Correct Breast Pump
The best breast pump to increase milk supply will be one that can resolve breast milk supply issues and will have sufficient strength to build and maintain a steady supply of milk.
Endeavour to purchase or rent a hospital-grade pump if possible, or at the very least use an electric breast pump of high quality. Hand-operated pumps and battery-powered pumps are fine for occasional use, but over the long term, they are not powerful enough to promote and maintain a healthy supply of milk. Naturally, always adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for your individual pump and ensure that it is working properly. Do not hesitate to contact the pump manufacturer or a lactation consultant if in doubt about the operation of the device. The pump flanges, which are the shields that go over the breasts and nipples, must fit snug and proper. If the flanges are too large or too small, you risk damaging the breast tissue or you may experience sore nipples.
O’Flynn Medical carries a wide selection of high-quality electric breast pumps, bottles, flanges, and more for both rental and purchase. All of our pumps are hospital grade to help mothers improve breast milk supply and flow. Give your baby the natural goodness of breastfeeding with our Ameda Elite Breast Pump or the Ameda Finesse Breast Pump.
Get Comfortable and Prepare Before Pumping
Pumping sessions can last anywhere from 20-30 minutes, so it’s imperative that you sit in a comfortable position. Always wash your hands before starting and choose a storage container that you feel will be sufficient. Also, consider having a beverage or a healthy snack nearby and within easy reach if you feel hungry or thirsty whilst pumping. Milk production uses plenty of calories, so give your body the fluids and calories it needs during the pumping session.
Pump Frequently To Increase Breast Milk Supply
For mothers breastfeeding naturally, allow the baby to take the breast first and then follow up with pumping afterwards. Depleting the milk supply in this manner will stimulate the body to create more, so don’t fret if you don’t see much milk aqt first. For mothers that choose to only use pumps, completely express all breast milk as frequently as you can in order to increase breast milk supply. About every three hours or so should do.
Be Close to the Baby
Direct skin contact with the baby, known also as kangaroo care, has been shown to have beneficial effects on the quantity of breast milk mothers are able to pump. Try to have skin-to-skin contact with the baby if possible whilst pumping. Not only does this strengthen the bond between mother and baby, but it’s also great at alleviating problems such as decreased milk supply in one breast or the other. If you can, pump while holding your baby. If you cannot hold your baby, consider having some of their clothing or a blanket with their smell to help you get relaxed whilst pumping. Apply a warm, wet washcloth to your breasts before pumping as you would with a facial skin routine. The heat can improve the flow of breast milk and can reduce difficulties you may be experiencing with let-down.
Alternate Breasts During Pumping
When pumping one breast at a time, try to maintain a routine of spending 10-15 minutes on one breast then alternating to the other. You will probably have already discovered this whilst milking as the flow will reduce down to a trickle when nearly empty. When pumping both breasts simultaneously, pump until the flow subsides. Rest a few minutes and resume pumping when you are ready again. Massage your breasts as you pump to stimulate the flow.
Boost Breast Milk Supply With Nutrients
Herbs and medications that increase breast milk supply, known as galactagogues, have been used his as they are today by breastfeeding mothers. Fenugreek, alfalfa, and other galactagogues on their own will not likely boost supply very much, but when used in conjunction with the best breast pump for low milk supply, they can increase milk production. Always be sure to consult your GP or lactation consultant before amending your diet or using medication.
Keep Your Pump Clean
Wipe down, clean, and sanitise your breast pump after every use according to the instructions. Don’t neglect to clean the flanges and the storage bags. Hot, soapy water and a thorough rinse will suffice; air dry the containers completely before using again. It is also important to properly store the breast milk. All of the breast milk collected in a session needs to be stored somewhere safe and secure. It can be left at room temperature for use within the day. It can also be refrigerated or frozen for future use.
Don’t Forget to Care for Yourself
Babies are a labour of love, so it can be challenging to find time for your own needs. That’s why you must take good care of yourself by eating healthy, drinking lots of water, and getting quality sleep – even if you’re woken up frequently through the night, an afternoon nap can do plenty of good.
Situations Where Pumping is Needed
There are many situations where pumping is needed to stimulate flow and supply. However, the situation can be vastly different from one mother to another. Consider the following:
- Low milk supply: by following the above tips, most common problems stemming from low milk supply can be alleviated. Breastfeed frequently and pump after natural breastfeeding as well as between feedings to stimulate greater supply.
- Late introduction to breastfeeding: newborn babies or babies that require special care in neonatal intensive care units can pose challenges to breastfeeding. Begin pumping breast milk early so that when the baby is ready to breastfeed, the initial flow and supply will be increased.
- Adopted children: if you did not undergo pregnancy or delivery, your body will not naturally produce additional breast milk. It is possible, although challenging to create an improved breast milk supply with the assistance of pumps and galactagogues.
- Separated from baby: if, for whatever reason, you must be separated from your baby for more than a few days, do not neglect to pump so that your supply can be maintained until you are reunited again.
- Relactation: if you have switched from breastfeeding to nursing, ensure that you are pumping frequently to rebuild milk supply should you decide to resume breastfeeding again.
- Health conditions: make sure that any health conditions which affect your hormones are treated with the aid of a medical professional. Breast pump use after breastfeeding sessions and between sessions can help stimulate more breast milk. Ask your doctor if you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or hypothyroidism.
- Sensitive breasts: for mothers who have had breast surgery in the past or are concerned about the sensitivity of their breasts, pumping may be beneficial for producing more milk from your breasts. Make sure the flanges fit snug and proper and do not overexert yourself.
- Resuming school or work life: just because you decide to return to school or work after nursing doesn’t mean you must stop breastfeeding. Although your schedule will likely be quite different, you can make up for afternoon breastfeeding sessions by pumping more during the morning and evening to maintain a steady supply.
How to Maximise Breast Milk Supply
Feel free to contact our expert team regarding your breast milk supply, including which breast pump is ideal for you, how to pump properly and how often you should be pumping. Consulting with your general practitioner or a lactation consultant is also recommended. Choosing the right breast pump is important because there are so many pumps on the market and many are insufficient for promoting an effective supply of breast milk. At O’Flynn Medical, we specialise in high-quality breast pumps which are available to rent or purchase.