As an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), I often hear from moms who want to know the secrets to pumping more milk. If you plan on going back to work or you’re pumping exclusively, here are some tips to help you maximize the amount of milk you pump and maintain your milk production over time.
- Keep a flexible schedule for removing milk, whether it’s breastfeeding or using a breast pump. Aim to breastfeed or express your milk at least 8 times over 24 hours.
- Breast massage and hand expression combined with pumping has been shown to maximize milk removal and increase milk production. I recommend a simple technique called hands-on pumping; it’s a milk expression technique using your hands to effectively assist in milk removal.
- Spend as much time holding or getting skin to skin contact with your baby when you are together. Physical contact stimulates the release of the breastfeeding hormones prolactin and oxytocin.
- Warm your breastshields before pumping. One study found that moms who used warm breastshields decreased the time needed to remove 80% of their milk volume. If you have a Naya Smart Breast Pump, you can fill your breast shield assemblies with warm water to act as a soothing compress for your nipples.
- Look at pictures or watch a video of your baby crying or nursing to stimulate the release of oxytocin and get your milk flowing. You can also try smelling a worn article of your baby’s clothing, such as a baby hat or blanket.
- Trigger your milk ejection reflex by trying reverse pressure softening (RPS), a technique that can help stimulate the nerves under the areola. These nerves control the release of the hormone oxytocin, which is responsible for milk release. Most moms can initiate letdown with RPS in 1-2 minutes. It is especially helpful when engorgement makes latching or pumping difficult.
- Imagine milk rushing forth from your breasts like a waterfall. Visual imagery is relaxing and can help release tension that can slow the milk ejection reflex.
- Listen to audio or music to help you relax. One study found moms in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) who listened to a relaxation tape increased their milk production. The relaxation and visual imagery recording from that study is available as a free download, so give it a try!
If you’re stuck or struggling on breastfeeding or pumping, get in touch with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to ask questions and receive personalized help or look into resources such as La Leche League, Breastfeeding USA, and Baby Cafe. And if you have a Naya Smart Breast Pump, don’t hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org and schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation with one of our IBCLCs (including me!). We’re here to help you with any breastfeeding and breast pumping questions by email or phone.