How To Pump More Breast Milk: 20 Tips To Increase Milk Supply

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12 fool-proof ways to pump more breast milk RIGHT NOW! (Number 4 works every time!)

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When it comes to pumping breast milk, there is definitely an art to it. I’ve been pumping for a grand total of 43 months and counting. (That’s an estimated 38,000 ounces!!) Needless to say, I’ve learned quite a few things along the way. You actually think that’s not so hard to do, but once you’re actually confronted with it, you realize that it is. You are under a lot of stress because you’re constantly worried if you’ll be able to pump enough milk for your little one. On the other hand, you feel that it’s become the only reason for your existence – that you’re nothing more than a glorified milk supplier. 

But even if it gets hard at times, when you realize that there isn’t anything healthier than a mom’s breast milk, nothing is too much for you. 

Whether you are an exclusive pumper (hats off to you, mama!), an occasional pumper, a pump-at-work-er, or somewhere in between, I have some tips and tricks on how to pump more breast milk.

Ways to Pump More Breast Milk

(Psst…keep reading to the end to get your free printable!)

1.  Check your fit

Make sure the horn/flange is the right size for your body. Areolas and nipples come in all sizes, so don’t assume that the “standard” size will fit you. You want to make sure your nipple isn’t rubbing the inside of the flange tube. Check your breast pump manufacturer’s website for a sizing guide. Many moms use Medela breast pumps and they’re pretty satisfied with them, so you can see if their products work well for you as well. 

Once you’re sure you have the right size, be sure the position is correct. Take care that you put the flange on straight. You don’t want your nipple to be at an angle or positioned in a way that is painful. Remember, if it hurts, stop doing it immediately. 

2.  Low and slow

When you turn on your electric pump, start with a lower suction setting and gradually work your way up to a stronger suction that is comfortable to you. You don’t want the suction to be painful.

Also, if you’re using a manual pump, make sure that you do it slowly, because nothing right can happen when you do it fast, especially a delicate thing like breast pumping. Make sure you do it when you really have some peace and nobody’s disturbing you. It’s not like you can do it while busy with other things.

You need some privacy and peace so you can dedicate yourself to your pumping session completely. 

3. Watch the clock

Aim to pump for about 15-20 minutes at a time. Pumping for longer than 20 minutes may damage your nipples. (Obviously, use your discretion here. If your breasts are really full, you may need to pump longer. But if your nipples are sore, don’t push yourself.)

A pumping schedule is an important thing in the whole process, so establish and stick to the same pattern. 

4. Use your imagination

How To Pump More Breast Milk

Visualize a river of flowing milk or a waterfall of milk. The imagination is a powerful tool! That’s why you need to take time while breast pumping just like you do when you breastfeed. Many breastfeeding moms use this tactic to get more milk supply.

Also, working moms who need to do their pump session ASAP use this tip to pump faster so they can go back to their daily tasks. I know it would be great to be with your child while you’re breastfeeding, but for some moms, it is simply mission impossible. 

5. Heat it up

Apply warmth to your breasts. Warmth helps with letdown and better milk flow, so use a heating pad on your breasts while you pump. (I use this one.)

No heating pad? Warm a towel in the microwave for the same results. (Seriously, this works great! You gotta try it!)

One word of caution though…babies have sensitive skin and you’ll want to be careful not to use heat while holding your baby so he/she doesn’t get burned!

Pumping Mom Academy Ecourse

6.  Hands-on

How To Pump More Breast MilkMassage and squeeze your breasts while pumping. Use circular motions and downward strokes, especially focusing on areas that feel full. Breast compression is one of the best pumping tips you can get. It’s great for better milk flow and for getting a bigger milk supply. Do this every time before and during breast pumping, and the results will be amazing. 

Also, be sure you’re massaging your armpits, too. (Did you know you have milk ducts in your armpits? Crazy!)

7. All the feels

Breastfeeding Hacks: 8 Things Every New Mom Needs To KnowLook at a picture of your baby or imagine your baby nursing. (Those sounds baby makes? That little chin movement? Ahh!!) Moms do this when they can’t focus on breast pumping for some reason. Maybe some of them are at work or  so tired because they didn’t sleep enough for the past couple of nights. Also, sometimes you won’t be in the mood for breast pumping because your nipples are sore. 

There are so many reasons why moms sometimes give up on nursing. But all you need to do is to get some rest and ask for some help. I’m sure a good midwife will talk to you and show you how you can get more milk for your little one. If you get just a little bit of assistance, everything will be much easier.

8.  Sniff sniff

Smell your baby’s hat or an outfit that smells like him or her. (Is there any sweeter scent?!) You’re probably wondering why, right? Well, many moms swear by this trick when they can’t pump enough milk for their baby.

When you take your baby’s clothes and smell it, your hormones are triggered and your milk production will be a lot better. It’ll remind you of your little one and the happiness they bring to you every day. 

9.  Pics for days

Breastfeeding Hacks: 8 Things Every New Mom Needs To Know

Look at photos of breastfeeding. (There are some really beautiful/touching ones out there!) When you look at those photos, they’ll remind you of your baby and the time you spend together getting to know each other.

It’ll also remind you of breastfeeding and that moment that only the two of you understand and means so much to both of you. Every mom will get nostalgic at these kinds of photos. Also, you can bring a photo of your little one or save some of them on your phone.

So, when you want to breast pump, you can just take a look at the photo of your baby and the milk flow will be much easier.

10.  Breathe

How To Pump More Breast MilkTake some deep breaths. Stress inhibits letdown, so be sure to breathe deeply and relax all your muscles. Especially take note of your jaw and your shoulder muscles. Are they tight? Be sure to relax those muscles with every exhale. Don’t try to breast pump if you don’t have time for it. You need to relax and take your time.

Give yourself some space and time and do it while someone else is taking care of your baby. If you’re under stress, pumping breast milk, and checking on baby at the same time, nothing will happen. You’ll just get nervous and end up transferring it to your baby. 

11. Relax

Listen to relaxing music or a stress-reduction meditation. (You can find both of these for free on YouTube!) This helps with the let-down reflex because it’s easier to get more milk for your little one.

Consider that time only for yourself when you don’t think about anything else but on providing your baby with the healthiest liquid that exists. If you do it while you’re relaxed and if you give yourself as much time as you need, the whole process will be much better.

You won’t stress out and you’ll have enough milk for your little one. 

12.  Unlatch

If you want to know how to pump more breast milk, try this great tip: If you’re pumping and nothing is coming out, disconnect and try hand expression for a few minutes. Get some rest, take a deep breath, and give yourself a tender breast massage.

Don’t do it fast – give yourself time and focus on what you’re doing. Remember that you don’t need to hurry anywhere and that nothing is more important than the milk you’re about to pump. After that, you can connect to your pump and try again.

In case this doesn’t help, leave the pump for a bit and do something that you like. Dedicate yourself to your baby, eat something yummy, or watch TV.

After you stop pushing yourself to do it, the let-down reflex will start working normally and you’ll be able to breastfeed or pump more breast milk.

13. Eat fenugreek 

What you eat has a lot to do with breast milk production. That’s why you need to eat food that is rich with galactagogues like for example fenugreek. You can try these seeds and your milk supply will get higher after 24 hours. Also, you can take it as a pill, which most women do, and you can find it in your local supermarket. 

Making a fenugreek tea is possible as well, but it doesn’t have as strong an effect as taking the pills. Every lactation consultant will advise you to take this herb because it’s been known for over a hundred years to boost milk production.

When you have an ample amount of milk, you won’t be under stress about whether or not your baby has enough food. Even if there are many baby formulas for newborns, most moms insist on breastfeeding if possible, so milk supply is of a high importance.

14. Ask for help from an IBCLC 

For all of you who don’t know an IBCLC stands for (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), it’s a person who helps new moms who’re not sure how to breastfeed or how to pump more breast milk properly. You can take this course earlier in your pregnancy so you can be ready once you give birth. 

Things that you learn in this course can be a lifesaver in one moment. I know many moms who didn’t know how to breastfeed properly and they did it wrong the whole time. Result? Extremely sore nipples, sometimes even bleeding, and a baby who is crying all the time because they’re hungry. I know that some of you don’t want to take these courses, but at least ask a midwife how to breastfeed properly so you and your baby don’t run into any problems. 

15. Have a pumping schedule 

A pumping schedule is an important thing if you want to pump more breast milk. If you normally pump milk early in the morning, make sure that you do it at the same time. There is no sense in pumping for 15 minutes and then trying it again in 15 minutes.

There won’t be enough milk in your breasts and you’ll just waste time trying to do something unrealistic. On the other hand, there are moms who have so much milk at some point that they simply have to pump themselves more often. It also depends from woman to woman.

In case you need to pump more often, you can use a pumping bra and have your hands free at the same time. Cool, right? There are some great Medela pumping bras that have helped new moms more than anything else during this sensitive period in their lives. 

16. Stay hydrated 

Another great tip for pumping more breast milk is drinking a lot of water. You need to take care of your diet and drink a lot of liquid, and the best would be just water. That way, you’ll be able to produce more milk. And the more milk you pump, the more you’ll have, since pumping works on supply and demand

The most important thing when breastfeeding or pumping is to eat healthily and to drink a lot of water, since you need to make up for all the milk that you’re pumping out. Remember, you need to take care of yourself and be good to yourself so you’re able to be good to your baby as well. 

17. Double pumping is the real deal 

Double pumping results in more milk. So, why wouldn’t you do it when you have the chance? It’s much easier, it’s time-saving, and your little one is guaranteed to get enough milk. This is really great for working moms who don’t have time for themselves. So, while they double pump they can apply makeup or comb their hair. When you double pump, you’re extracting more milk because of the double stimulation. 

Many moms couldn’t believe this was possible until they tried it themselves. And you know what? It really works. So, if you want more time for yourself, if you feel that you’re pumping the whole day, or if you’re stressed out about your baby getting enough milk, try double pumping. Trust me, you won’t regret it. 

18. Use a breast shield for breastfeeding  

If you have sore nipples and if they sometimes bleed because the position is not right, you can try a breast shield. Many moms swear by Medela breast shields. The catch when using a shield is that your baby won’t irritate the area around the nipple and the nipple will stay as it is. 

I know that I had so many problems after I gave birth to my first baby. My nipples were so irritated; they hurt and were bleeding. After using some nipple cream to recover, I started using the breast shields and it never happened to me again. Also, if someone explains to you what the right position is for nursing a baby, it can prevent you from nipple pain. So, always educate yourself and ask as many questions as you want. That’s the only way to learn something properly. 

19. Make sure you have a high-quality breast pump 

One thing that you need to take time for is choosing the right pump. If you’re not planning to pump a lot, a manual pump will be enough for you. But if you intend on pumping several times per day, it’s better to buy an electric pump.

Buying a double pump is better than buying a single one. It saves time and you get more milk because you’re pumping from both breasts, which increases the level of prolactin – the hormone essential for milk production.

There are many models from the Medela collection that are of a high quality and many moms have told me they are satisfied with them. Also, if you don’t have a budget for a new pump, you can borrow one from a mom who isn’t using it. But the most important thing is that it is of high quality and you feel comfortable while pumping milk.

20. Don’t quit 

No matter how hard it can sometimes be, don’t quit. Just think about all the pros your milk has on your baby. Your milk is the first antibiotic that your baby gets when they start breastfeeding. It helps their immune system to develop, meaning a healthier baby. 

I know that you’ll sometimes be tired and that nothing will make sense, especially if you have low milk supply, but please don’t give up. The best tip on how to pump more breast milk is simply not giving up. Everything will pass and one day when you forget all the problems, you’ll be happy that you were persistent in your call and that you didn’t give up. 

If you feel that you can’t do it by yourself anymore, reach out to someone to talk to. You’re just a mom – you’re not a superhero – you need some support. In this sensitive period of your life, it’s very important to have someone who’ll be there for you and help you overcome it all much easier. 

To wrap up, I’d like to quickly share my personal experience with all of you awesome moms who’re giving your best to feed your little ones. Please read further.

 My story + How I can help…

When I was a new pumping mama I felt so overwhelmed by all the information out there. I was so stressed and confused!

Friend, It doesn’t have to be this way! Across the span of three kids, I’ve pumped for more than 3 years.

After hearing from so many moms who are struggling with pumping difficulties, I developed an online course called Pumping Mom Academy designed to teach you all you need to know about pumping and to encourage/support you along the way.

Click here to learn more about Pumping Mom Academy!

Pumping Mom Academy: More Milk, Less Stress - an online course to guide you through the pumping process

Click here to learn more about Pumping Mom Academy

How To Pump More Breast Milk: 20 Tips To Increase Milk Supply

Be sure to pin this article so you can refer to it later! And remember, pumpin’ ain’t always easy. You’re doing a great job! 🙂

 

UPDATE July 2019:

free printable checklistYou guys are awesome! This article has been shared SO many times and I am THRILLED to be helping so many awesome moms pump liquid gold for their little ones.

That’s why I have created this FREE printable for my e-mail subscribers! This exclusive checklist includes all 12 tips above in an easy-to-read format. Print a copy and place it near your pumping station or toss a copy in your pump bag for work or on-the-go.

And if you haven’t already, be sure to click here and pin this article to help spread the word to all the pumpin’ mamas!

(Gmail users, my email might go to your promotions tab, so be sure to check there!)

 
 
 
 
 


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33 Comments

  1. Taking Fenugreek and drinking water has really helped with my production. I never thought after hand expressing to pump again. I will have to try that.

    • I know a lot of people swear by Fenugreek! And yessss water! I’m always so thirsty while pumping/bf! LMK how the hand expressing, then pumping works. Hope it helps! 🙂

      • Hi! Im having alot of trouble with my supply. In the beginning i had a good amount enough to satisfy the baby. Now that hes 5 weeks old my supply tanked i have barely anything when I say nothing I mean drops come out and it stops. I do exclusively pump due to a tongue tie that doesnt allow him to latch correctly. Im upset because i really want to keep this going for him. I do drink about a gallon of water a day and i do have fenugreek. Is there anything else i should be doing to maybe help get my supply back or is this really the end of breastfeeding for us 😐

        • Hi, Brenda! I’m so sorry to hear about your struggle. What kind of pump are you using and how often are you pumping? Based on what you’ve shared, it sounds like my e-course Pumping Mom Academy might be a great fit for you. We talk about supply issues a bunch…check out bit.ly/pumpingmomacademy to learn more!

        • I’m having the exact same issue. I exclusively pump because of a tongue tie as well. In the beginning pumping was going so well for me. Now I can’t keep up with my growing baby and have to supplement with formula.

  2. Great tips, thank you!
    #4 is SO important for me. I have a technique that I call Mindful Nursing (I wrote about it on my blog) where I visualize my letdown. I imagine milk pouring down from the top of my head down my neck and collar bone to my breasts. It works well during both nursing and pumping. It’s similar to the visualization exercises that I did during childbirth.

    • I love that! The mind is very powerful. I do this, too when I’m nursing and my little one is getting impatient for the letdown. It really does work! 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  3. Iam almost 3 weeks postpartum, my son is drinking almost 2 oz of Similac and I am only making less than 1oz of breastmilk, will I ever be able to catch up to him?

    • Hey mama! Are you exclusively pumping or both pumping and nursing? How often do you pump/nurse? Do you get out 1 oz per breast, per pumping session, or total? Remember, every ounce counts…so even a little is beneficial. I know how hard this is. Hugs!! <3

  4. These are great! Thank you for putting this out there… It’s always helpful to have a healthy guide that doesn’t suggest any random foods or supplements. These are basic, by the book suggestions that a lactation consultant would give. KUDOS to YOU!!!

  5. I have a premature baby in the nicu. I am trying to pump for him. I am very scared my milk will not be enough for him. He is not at my breast yet, which makes it harder. Already I feel I am not someone who produces too much milk. Please help. I am drinking mothers milk, which seems to help.

    • Please don’t giveup I know it’s extremely hard to pump milk for a baby in Nicu but I did it my self for almost 3 months .because my baby was in Nicu for so long and at first I was soo much worried that how I am gonna do this with first time c-section after 2 normal deliveries I used to cry a lot every time but I was thinking only about my poor baby who was fighting in Nicu and all he needs the most important milk which is full of antibodies and everything in it.the Lactation nurse helps a lot ..told me that I have to pump every 2 to 3 hours , feels like you are feeding your baby And I did the best thing rented the hospital pump which works really good.inwas going back & forth to the hospital with 5 to 6 bottles every day and even was freezing tons at home too.i also got meningitis inbetween with fever for soo many days but I didn’t quit pumping..I used to have oatmeal in milk everyday which really helped me with the milk supply.

    • I do not know if you are out of the NICU yet or not. But I too was a mama to a premature baby. The one thing I did that helped tremendously, was pump right after doing skin to skin with my baby. My milk production tripled once I started doing this! It will all work out! You can do it!

  6. I allowed my baby to have bottles, with breast milk when im gone or even when im home when my nipples were so cracked it hurt to allow water to hit them in the shower, now my baby prefers bottles to my breast and its making me so sad & i want to get her back on the breast and produce more milk, any suggestions?

    • Please don’t giveup I know it’s extremely hard to pump milk for a baby in Nicu but I did it my self for almost 3 months .because my baby was in Nicu for so long and at first I was soo much worried that how I am gonna do this with first time c-section after 2 normal deliveries I used to cry a lot every time but I was thinking only about my poor baby who was fighting in Nicu and all he needs the most important milk which is full of antibodies and everything in it.the Lactation nurse helps a lot ..told me that I have to pump every 2 to 3 hours , feels like you are feeding your baby And I did the best thing rented the hospital pump which works really good.inwas going back & forth to the hospital with 5 to 6 bottles every day and even was freezing tons at home too.i also got meningitis inbetween with fever for soo many days but I didn’t quit pumping..I used to have oatmeal in milk everyday which really helped me with the milk supply.

  7. Hi Marianna,
    Thanks for the article. Will definitely try these tips as I’m struggling with breastfeeding. My feed is insufficient for my baby’s (one month old) intake. I have to give him formula to meet his demand which is why I’m very upset 🙁
    Breastfeed vs formula ratio is 30:70. Is there a way i can reverse the ratio? I use pump as well as try to make him latch directly apart from giving the formula. But since he is now habitual of taking pumped and formula milk from bottle so he doesnot latch directly. I have to use a silicon protector on my nipples after which he latches.
    Please help how can i increase my milk production and make him latch directly without nipple protector.
    Thanks a bunch!!!
    A worried and sad mom 🙁

  8. Breastfeed exclusively because it’s supposed to be a feed-back system. The more milk is demanded of your breasts, the more they should produce. You can also stimulate a greater “need” for breast milk by using a breast pump after each feeding. Also, make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids. I’ve boosted my supply through these remedies. I have also used Healthy nursing tea that tastes good and boosts supply as well.

  9. Thank you so much for writing something other than eat these cookies. My little guy is 8 months and my pumping supply tanked, I’ve tried everything I read until I stumbled across this post. I loathe pumping but have to do it so he has milk when I’m at work. It was to the point where I could pump for 20 minutes and not even fill the bottom of either bottle, I power pumped everyday for a week and a half to get up to 2oz. I think my mind set really affected my ability to pump as he still nurses fine. Just turning on relaxing music and turning off my mind has helped so much. This morning I pumped 5oz in 20 minutes! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

  10. Hi, I need help!
    I had my son 3 weeks ago, born at 27 weeks, weighing 800grams.
    I’ve been pumping since birth, and I’m only getting 20-30 mls out.
    He is on 2 hourly feeds of 14 mls.
    I have run out of supply and the nicu has started to give him formula.
    I don’t have him with me, I see him a few hours a day, I get an hour cuddle each day if he is having a good day, but that only started this week basically.
    I don’t have anything to smell. I have got photos to look at.
    Been drinking malt drink, and eating oats. Nothing is helping it come in.

    • Hi, Amie! Bless your heart, you’ve been through so much! Sounds like you are doing all you can. Can the hospital give him donor milk until your milk comes in? How often are you pumping? Since he’s so young, I’d recommend pumping at least 12 times per day, 15-20 minutes each time. The more you pump, it will send a signal to tell your body to make more milk. If you aren’t using a hospital-grade pump, it may be beneficial to try to rent one temporarily if you can afford it. Please feel free to email me: [email protected] if you want to chat further. Keep up the good work, mama! <3

  11. My second baby is 5 months old and I havent started pumping yet. I pumped while I was it work with my first, and now that I’m home full time with my two kids I’m having a hard time finding motivation to start pumping with my second! I’m just wanting to have a small stash in case I want to go out or an emergency. I’m really scared that if I start pumping so late in the game I will mess up the good, evened out milk supply I have going! Are my fears rationale? Any suggestions or tips? Thank you!

    • Hey, mama! Congrats on making it to nursing five months, woohoo!! I definitely understand that you don’t want to mess with your well-established supply and create an oversupply. Here’s what I think I’d do. You know how sometimes when baby nurses they just want a little snack but don’t feed a loooong time? I might try pumping for 10 minutes or so after a feed like that. Another option is to pump first thing in the morning when your body naturally produces more milk. If you did either of those two things once or twice a week, I think you’ll have a nice little stash built and it won’t interfere with your supply. Let me know how it goes! 🙂

  12. Hello thank you for all the info! But I need more help! My little guy is 6 weeks old tomorrow and I’m just not pumping enough I feel. I try to pump 4 times a day on top of breast feeding him so I have a supply for when I get back to work. I’m taking fenugreek, the milk tea, increase all water intake, and just added the “let there be milk” tincture by birdsong and still only pump 3-4 oz total all day. Is it possible to be taking too many supplements?

    • Hey, Amanda! Congrats on that sweet new baby! At six weeks, your milk supply is still getting established. How soon do you have to return to work? It sounds like you are doing all the right things! I’m not sure if it’s possible to be taking too many supplements or not…you may want to ask your doc about that one. Pumping first thing in the morning (if you aren’t doing that already) is a great time to get more milk, because that’s when your supply is naturally the highest. Feel free to email me: findyourmomtribe @gmail.com and I’m happy to chat with you further! Hang in there, mama! <3 <3

  13. How often would you suggest to pump? I breastfeed and bottle feed my baby and it seems lately I’m having to do more of the latter. I don’t pump too oferten honestly just because I’m discouraged and I don’t feel I have much supply to pump.

    • Hi Monica! How old is your baby? In the early days, you want to pump as often as your baby nurses if you are exclusively pumping and not nursing at all. Then you can gradually space out pumpings. Please don’t be discouraged if you aren’t getting a ton of milk out. We go into this in great detail inside the e-course (Pumping Mom Academy), but basically the more you nurse and pump, the more your milk your body will make. Skipping pumping/nursing sessions will cause your body to think, “Hmm, guess we shouldn’t make that much milk!” So it’s all about supply and demand. The more you “demand” milk from your body by pumping or nursing, the more supply (milk) your body will make. Hope that helps! <3 Hang in there!

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