Pumping helps to maintain a good milk supply as it stimulates the breasts to produce more milk. So the more you pump, the higher the milk supply.
Paediatricians advise nursing moms to breastfeed their babies as much as possible. It is the best way to ensure that babies get all the essential nutrients they need from birth.
Unfortunately, not every mom is able to breastfeed on demand due to various commitments like work.
Thus, in order to ensure the baby keeps getting all the nutrients from breast-milk, nursing moms result to pumping.
In this article, we shall look at how often you should pump and the different ways to increase milk supply when pumping.
How often should you pump to increase milk supply?
You need to pump as much as 8 times a day or every 2 hours for 20 minutes in order to increase your milk supply.
There are a numbers of ways or technique through which you can achieve this as discussed below.
Double pumping simply means pumping both breasts simultaneously until the flow slows down or stops. This technique helps you to express more milk through double stimulation.
Double stimulation promotes the release of oxytocin – a milk stimulating hormone – which increases milk let down.
In order to double pump effectively, you need to have a double breast pump and a hands-free pumping bra.
Cluster pumping is another technique that helps you to pump more milk.
It is also known as power pumping as it involves pumping every five to ten minutes for about an hour per day.
How do you do this?
If you are double pumping, pump continuously until the flow stops or slows down. Take a break for ten minutes and then resume pumping until the flow slows down. Keep doing this for about one hour.
Cluster pumping gives the breasts repeated stimulation allowing more milk production.
The rationale behind this is that when the breasts are full, your body can’t produce milk, and when they are empty, milk production is triggered.
So the more you pump, the higher the quantity of milk that is produced.
Pumping after breastfeeding
It is not possible for your baby to completely empty your breasts when feeding.
So if the breasts still feel full after the baby feeds, you can empty them completely by pumping.
As aforementioned, empty breasts signal to the body to produce more milk and hence, it increases the milk supply.
Pumping first thing in the morning
Majority of breastfeeding moms tend to get more milk when they pump early in the morning before the baby feeds.
This is because the level of milk is high in the morning especially between 1am and 5am. This period is known as the prolactin phase.
The levels of prolactin increase naturally at night and are at the highest in the early morning.
Thus, the body produces high levels of prolactin in the early morning, which stimulates the breasts to produce more milk.
However, prolactin starts to drop 3 to 4 hours after you wake up so it is important you start pumping immediately so as to get more milk.
Choose the right pump
Of course, the right pump plays a very significant role in the amount of milk you can pump within a short time.
For instance, an electric pump will be more convenient and easier to use than a manual pump for obvious reasons. With a manual pump, you have to keep pumping, which can be quite tedious especially when cluster pumping.
Similarly, go for a double pump as opposed to a single one if you want to double pump. With a double pump, you will be able to pump more from both breasts within a short time.
Shop here for the perfect double pump for the on-the-go mum!
Most importantly, check and replace any broken parts of the pump to ensure efficiency when pumping.
Galactagogues are substances – drinks and foods – said to increase breast milk naturally.
The evidence that they indeed increase milk supply is purely anecdotal.
So, how to do know that certain foods increase milk production? Through information passed down from one generation to another.
For instance, your grandmother might have told your mom to try certain foods to increase her milk supply and it worked. So your mom passed this information down to you and you tried them and they also worked. That’s how you know.
Some examples of foods that you can take to increase breast milk production include whole grains such as oatmeal, fenugreek, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and garlic among others.
Drinks such as water, coconut water, and energy drinks like Body Armor drink have also being stated to stimulate milk production. Body Armor works for breastfeeding moms as it contains coconut water concentrate, which highly hydrates the body.
The more hydrated you are, the more milk you will produce and be able to pump more per session.
To conclude, there is no doubt that the more you pump, the more milk you will produce.
You can opt for double pumping where you pump from both breasts simultaneously or cluster pumping. Alternatively, you can combine the two techniques so that you pump from both breasts after every 5 to 10 minutes for one hour until the milk flows subsides or completely stops.
However, to pump more, you will need an electric double pump that is in good working condition. You will also need to take certain milk stimulating foods and drinks as discussed above.