Pumping

Top tips for establishing milk supply with a pump.

Frequency

There really is no better way to get a full supply than to pump frequently; 8 to 10 times a day if possible and they do not need to be equally spaced. And if you miss one for some reason, try to shuffle up the others so you still get the same number over 24 hours.

Efficiency

Using a hospital grade pump is recommended. 

Breast shell size

It is really important to get the pump’s breast shell size correct. This will mean pumping should be comfortable and not cause any damage to the nipples, and it will also help maximise milk production. Just a note to say sometimes a pair of breasts need two different sized shells! And sometimes you need to change size as you go through your pumping journey as breast size changes. Nipple diameter is the key. 

Power pumping

This mimics a baby’s natural cluster feeding pattern and can help stimulate milk production. 

Hands on pumping technique

This is a technique which incorporates massage, hand expressing and pumping all at the same time. Many have found that this can greatly increase output.

Hand expressing

After the flow has slowed you could try finishing off by doing some hand expressing. Often a little more can be squeezed out by hand

A hands free pumping bra

This can make the above massage much easier, as you use the bra to hold the pump onto the breasts and so hands are free. It also means you can pump and do other things at the same time. You can buy them or make your own by cutting vertical slits in an old bra where your nipples are, and insert the cones through the slits.

Warmth

Applying a warm compress or warm hand towel just before you express can help the let-down reflex.

Skin to skin with baby

Skin to skin helps boost oxytocin and encourages the milk to flow. Oxytocin is one of the key hormones involved in the production of breast milk and, amongst other things, stimulates the let-down reflex, meaning milk flows more easily.

Look at baby

Photos, videos, pictures, pumping next to the cot, listening to your baby. All these remind the breasts what they are supposed to be doing! They also stimulate oxytocin and help with supply.

Latch baby

If baby is beginning to latch on to the breast, pumping straight afterwards can make it much easier for the milk to flow as the baby will have stimulated the let-down reflex.

Distraction

Distracting yourself by listening to music, relaxation recordings, mindfulness, watching comedy, chatting to other mums or friends and family all have been shown to increase milk production. Stress can inhibit the let down reflex so these techniques can help keep you relaxed.

Eat and drink 

Good for health and energy of the mother, not necessarily for milk production.

Rest

It is really essential for mums to rest. Yes, waking once or twice a night to pump is essential, but getting a good amount of sleep is so important to cope. Get help with all the usual household chores, looking after older children and cooking. Mother the mother so the mother is able to mother the baby.

Galactagogues

There are many foods or medications out there which either have some scientific evidence behind them or have anecdotal evidence that they can increases milk production. However, none of these work unless the milk is being removed frequently from the breast. They are not a magic wand.