Breastfeeding is rewarding…but hard…and pumping is even harder! Returning to work after baby is already stressful enough, but if you breastfeed you have the additional stress of pumping enough milk for your little one while you’re away. There are reasons why you may see a temporary dip in supply, like being dehydrated or sick, or your period is about to return. Be sure to build a freezer stash a few weeks before going back to work for these instances. Don’t fret too much about your pumping output unless it is continuously low. Most likely, some simple fixes will get your pumping output back up. Here are 7 ways you can increase your pumping output.
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1. Look at photos or watch videos of your little one while pumping
This will reduce your stress, take your mind off of worrying about how much milk your’e getting, and just make you happy. If you have your own private office or pumping room, you could hang pictures up all over (which I’m sure you already do 😉 ), if not your phone works just fine. 🙂 Videos are great because the sound of your baby will help trigger your let down.
2. Massage your breasts while pumping
You may need to pump one breast at a time to do so effectively. I have found that massaging works wonders for me. Also helps shorten my pumping sessions!
3. Increase your water and/or caloric intake
Being dehydrated or not getting enough calories can strain your milk supply. I know getting plenty to eat and drink is tough when you are busy at work, but you need to make this priority. Breastfeeding mamas need about 500 extra calories per day. Listen to your body; Eat when your’e hungry (even though it may seem like you are always starving!) and satisfy your thirst. You could also try eating some oatmeal or drinking some fennel tea; both commonly known to help boost milk supply.
4. Make sure you have the correct breast shield size
If you feel discomfort while pumping or still feel full after a pumping session, it may be a sign you need to change your breast shield size for one or both breasts. Here is a great resource for helping you choose the correct shield size. If you still need help, you could also meet with a lactation consultant (LC). Most LCs will provide this service for free.
5. Regularly maintain your breast pump parts
If you pump on a regular basis, you should be replacing your membranes about every 4 weeks. If you’ve noticed a decrease in your pumping output, check your membranes first. If there is a gap between the valve and membrane, you need to replace it. The membrane should lie flat against the valve. Always have extra valves and membranes on hand.
If your tubing is getting loose, try snipping the ends off. Replace your valves every 4-6 months, and sterilize your parts once a week. Sterilization bags work great for the busy working mom.
6. Use a warm compress
Try placing a warm washcloth on your breasts a few minutes before pumping. It will help trigger your let down.
7. Try a manual breast pump
You may find overtime that you stop responding as well to the pump. And some women just don’t respond well to electric pumps at all. You may respond better to a manual pump.
If you continue to get a low output from pumping, be sure to meet with a lactation consultant. Try not to stress, and remember, the amount you pump is not always a good indicator of how much milk baby gets when she’s at the breast.
You are doing great mama! You are growing another human with your own body! You are amazing!
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