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How to Increase Breast Milk Supply When Pumping
It’s common knowledge that “breast milk is best” and so many women try their hardest to breastfeed or at least provide breast milk for their babies. No breast pump is as good as a baby’s suckle when it comes to stimulating and evoking the production of milk, so it is an uphill battle if the baby or mother is unable to breastfeed directly. Even so, there are many women choosing to exclusively pump their breast milk. I am one of those women, and have pumped for my two children after breastfeeding failed.
When my first was born, I was prompted by the NICU nurses to pump every 2-3 hours; when my milk came in, I had more milk than I knew what to do with. After that, I got lazy and decided to pump every 4 hours. Inevitably, my milk supply decreased. It decreased even more when I became pregnant with my second (5 months after the first was born!); when the second was born and he failed to latch on to my inverted nipples, I turned to pumping. My supply went up and down, and after figuring out how to keep my breast milk supply up without killing myself over it, I can provide all the milk my growing baby needs (and he’s a big, growing baby at that!).
To Make Milk, You Need Liquid
Increasing your liquid intake will increase the amount of milk you produce, so drink up on a lot of water! Your liquid of choice doesn’t necessarily have to be water, but it’s the healthiest liquid there is. If you’re like me and don’t like to drink water unless it’s flavored or super cold, you can add sliced cucumbers, frozen or crushed fresh berries, herbs like mint or parsley, or even just a bit of fruit juice to make the water a little more interesting.
If you prefer your water to be very cold yet tasting fresh, I would suggest investing in a filtered water pitcher. My husband bought an inexpensive Brita pitcher from Target that we keep in the fridge filled with water. It tastes clean and doesn’t even need any ice because it’s already cold!
If you need more flavor in your water, then try tea or diluted fruit juice. If it’s time for lunch, try a soup! Even a cup of plain broth counts!
Beware though, not all liquids are good! If you’re nursing, you should of course limit your caffeine intake and as far as alcohol goes, avoid it! Alcohol can actually decrease your milk supply.
If There’s One Thing You Eat, Make It Oatmeal
I don’t know why, but oatmeal increases breast milk supply. I never liked oatmeal, unless it was one of those days where there was snow outside and all you want to do is sleep under the warm sheets of your bed all day. Now I eat it every day, simply because of the effects it has on my supply. The best thing I like about it? It’s easy to prepare and doesn’t take much time to make.
It doesn’t have to be mushy oatmeal every day, though. I often like to have a snack or dessert of yogurt with granola…it’s even better if you have fresh fruit! Oatmeal cookies can also help increase breast milk production.
If You Pump, Pump Often
There’s no way to deny it. You need to pump often if you’re going to feed a baby with exclusively pumped breast milk. I do it every 3 hours during the day, and then once during the middle of the night. For a restful sleep, make sure you have at least 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep before doing your nighttime pump. When I was pumping for my first child, either a lactation consultant or a NICU nurse said that the best time to pump for increasing breast milk production was something like 1-2 AM (I’m saying “something like” because this was 2 years ago!). I usually do my nighttime pump at 3 AM.
Speaking about pumping, some technique is involved in extracting all of the milk you can get. When pumping, they advise you to start at the highest amount of suction that you can withstand, and then once you’re used to that level of suction, to increase it steadily.
Unless you’re using a hospital-grade breast pump, the suction you’re getting probably isn’t all that great, even with a double electric breast pump. I have C-cup breasts and it’s a chore to hold the pumping bottles to my chest; the highest level of suction feels just the same as the medium level of suction, just a lot slower. So when the spurts of milk coming out starts to slow after double-pumping both breasts, I unplug one of the suction tubes and only use one pumping bottle. This allows me to concentrate the suction onto one breast at a time, and also allows me to get out the last drops by freeing up one hand to massage, poke and push any area that still has milk.
Increase Milk Supply Without Worrying Yourself to an Early Grave
Now, let out a sigh of relief!
It does take some time to increase your supply if you’re pumping breast milk, but really, don’t worry. If you don’t have enough milk for your baby, don’t kill yourself if you have to temporarily supplement with formula. If you really want to make this breast milk pumping thing work out, try my tips out and just relax. Your milk supply will go back up in just a few days! Unless, of course, if you’re pregnant again!
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