By Jacque Ordner BSN, RN, IBCLC, RLC
We’ve all probably heard that the amount of milk we can pump isn’t necessarily an accurate indicator of the amount of milk we’re making. If your baby is efficiently and effectively nursing, it’s true that they’re probably getting more milk out than your pump is. So how can we pump more milk? We’ve got you covered with four key tips!
- Set the mood – This one is pretty straightforward, so we won’t spend a ton of time here. Finding a comfortable, relaxed environment to pump in is important! Stress can affect your body’s ability to let down, and that will affect the amount of milk you’re able to express at a given session. We know you can’t always eliminate stress, but you can focus on things within your control like playing music or white noise to drown out distractions, lowering the lights, bringing along a drink and snack, and using pillows to get into a comfy position. Responding to the pump is a physiological, so even if the physical stimuli are there, it’s important to make sure the mental stimuli are also being considered.
- Flange fit – PUMPING SHOULDN’T HURT!!! If you dread pumping because of pain, something is wrong! In most situations, pumping pain is caused by improperly fitted flanges. Having the wrong flange fit can also lead to reduced pumping output and even clogged ducts. Click HERE for our flange fit guide and measuring tool. You can also set up a FREE flange fit consultation with one of our International Board Certified Lactation Consultants HERE.
- Know your settings – Spectra pumps are known for their abundance of setting combinations, making them super customizable! But, with all those options, moms sometimes don’t know where to start. We recommend starting with “Cycle Pumping”. Cycle Pumping mimics the way a baby nurses at the breast, triggering letdown, nursing rhythmically, triggering letdown again then taking longer, deeper sucks toward the end of a session.
Here is an example of Cycle Pumping with the Spectra S1/S2:
- Cycle 70 (Massage Mode) for 5 minutes
- Cycle 54 (Expression Mode) for 5 minutes
- Cycle 70 (Massage Mode) for 5 minutes
- Cycle 38 (Expression Mode) for 5 minutes
Cycle 38 can also be a game changer for moving stubborn clogs! As always, we never recommend increasing the vacuum to an uncomfortable level. There is no need to work your way up to a vacuum of 10 or 12 to be successful at pumping!
Use your hands – Hands on pumping is a highly underutilized skill when it comes to increasing pumping output! A breakthrough study from Dr. Jane Morton resulted in new mothers using hands on pumping to increase their pumping output by an average of 48%!!! Not only were these mothers able to express more milk, but the milk collected, with the use of their hands, contained twice as much fat as the milk collected with a breast pump only. With results like that, hands on pumping is an essential technique to learn and use if you are currently breast pumping or plan to. So, grab your hands-free pumping bra and let’s take a look at the steps to effective hands on pumping:
- Massage both breasts, concentrating on full areas, before pumping
- Use a hospital strength electric breast pump (Spectra S1/S2/S3 or s9+ are all hospital strength) to double pump. Use your hands to perform breast compressions during your pumping session.
- Remove flanges and massage both breasts again. Pay special attention to any remaining areas of fullness.
- Follow up with either hand expression or single pumping. For many mothers, hand expression will yield MORE MILK than single pumping, so experiment to see which method results in the greatest output. Use concentrated breast compressions on each breast, moving back and forth between breasts several times.
Don’t let the steps above scare you, mamas! For most moms, this routine can be completed in about 25 minutes and results in more milk than longer traditional pumping sessions. For more information about hands on pumping and hand expression, click HERE to check out Dr. Morton’s videos on hands on pumping and hand expression.
If you’ve tried the above tips, and are still experiencing low output, reach out! Email our IBCLCs at firstname.lastname@example.org or set up a free pumping consultation at www.spectrababyusa.com/lactationservices.
Mohrbacher, N. (2012, June 27). To Pump More Milk, Use Hands-On Pumping. Retrieved June 01, 2020, from http://www.nancymohrbacher.com/articles/2012/6/27/to-pump-more-milk-use-hands-on-pumping.html
Morton, Jane & Hall, JY & Wong, Ronald & Thairu, Lucy & Benitz, William & Rhine, W. (2009).
Combining hand techniques with electric pumping increases milk production in mothers
of preterm infants. Journal of perinatology : official journal of the California Perinatal
Association. 29. 757-64. 10.1038/jp.2009.87.