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Increase Breast Milk by Pumping Following Feedings

The Best Way to Make More Milk

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Updated June 02, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Breast pump next to baby.
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If you are struggling with making enough milk for your baby, there are many ways to increase breast milk supply. One of the first strategies you should use is to pump immediately after your baby has been at the breast. The best way to get your body to produce more breast milk is to make sure the breast is sufficiently "drained" of milk and to stimulate the milk glands even after no milk is being expressed. Though taking medications (galactologues) may seem like a quick fix, no amount of medication will work effectively if you aren't getting as much milk expressed from the breast as you can.

Make Sure Breast Milk Supply Is the Problem

Don't wrongly assume you have a problem. See a lactation consultant and have her diagnose what your issue is. Rather than a problem with under supply, it may be a latching issue, a foremilk - hindmilk imbalance, a problem with how your baby's mouth and lips are formed, or something completely different. Make sure you understand the signs of low milk supply, before you jump to that conclusion.

Breastfeed Often

If you do get confirmation that your supply is low, begin by putting your baby to breast often. A baby with a decent latch is going to be much more efficient at stimulating you to produce milk than any breast pump. Be sure that your baby has gotten as much milk as he can from one breast before you switch to the other side. You should also alternate which side you start on at each feeding.

A Good Breast Pump Makes All the Difference

Be sure you have access to a good quality pump. Unfortunately many of the manual hand pumps or low cost battery pumps just aren't worth squat. A hospital grade rental pump or a good quality double electric, like a )Medela Pump in Style (Compare Prices) or Ameda Purely Yours (Compare Prices), are preferred choices. If cost is an issue, check with your health insurance. Many health insurance companies will cover the cost. (Tip: often this is listed under "durable medical equipment" in your insurance policy. You may need to refer to that in your call- and be persistent!)

How to Use the Breast Pump to Increase Breast Milk

Immediately following your nursing session (or as soon as you can get settled), get comfortable, relax, and begin to pump. Even if you are not expressing any milk, the stimulation of suckling is stimulating your breast to make more milk. Don't give up and think it isn't working if the milk isn't flowing.

Make sure you have the suction at a comfortable setting. Some pumps have adjustable suction levels. It is absolutely not necessary to turn it up as high as it will go. Rather, if you can express milk, only set it as high as it takes to express milk. If you aren't expressing, put it to a setting that feels comfortable. Pumping make not feel "natural," but it should not be painful.

After 5 minutes, adjust the position of the breast pump horns. You might begin with the bottles held straight up and down. After a period of time break the suction, and change the angle of the collection bottles in relation to your body. What this does is helps to stimulate other areas of the breast.

How Often to Pump

Ideally, if your supply is exceptionally low, you should breastfeed every two hours and follow it with a pumping session. However, if this schedule seems overwhelming, pump following feedings as often as you can for whatever period of time you can manage. Of great advantage to you is to at least pump after your first feeding of the day when your supply is likely to be at its highest.

How Long to Use the Breast Pump

If you haven't expressed any milk after 10 to 15 minutes and you haven't experienced any pain, shut the pump off and repeat the process after your next feeding. If you were able to express any milk at all, continue to pump for at least 5 minutes after the last drop of milk falls. Sometimes you will experience what is called a second letdown. This happens when you express milk until the flow stops, you continue to pump, and after several minutes, milk begins to express again. If you have a second letdown, continue pumping for 5 minutes after the second flow stops.

Don't let the breast pump equipment of the thought of frequent pumping intimidate you. Do as much as you can, as often as you can. Remember every little bit helps.

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