Many new moms struggle to pump enough breast milk so they can return to work. If you are having trouble pumping enough breast milk, there are some techniques to try to increase your volume.
Make breast pumping a habit
One of the main reasons you aren’t pumping enough milk may be you need to make a habit of pumping for it to work well. You should try to pump at the same time of day, every day. One of my best times was in the morning right after feeding my son. I would nurse on one side, and then pump on the other. Then I would continue to pump for a minute after the breast milk stopped flowing. This sends a message to your body to produce more milk at this time of day. Occasionally I would have a second letdown of breast milk. Then, once your baby has finished nursing you can pump for a minute or two on the breast he nursed on.
Alternating sides when pumping breast milk to prevent problems
I would alternate which side I nurse from each time to prevent problems such as blocked milk ducts and mastitis. The way your baby nurses is more likely to clear the breast of milk. If you have a blocked duct but still need to pump from that breast, try the following; put a warm damp towel over the blocked duct, and massage the breast. Do not ignore a blocked milk duct, as this can lead to a painful infection called mastitis. For more on mastitis go here. A blocked duct will feel like a hard lump in one area of the breast. Blocked ducts can be painful, but if you have a fever, or other flu-like symptoms, go to the doctor.
Making enough breast milk for now and later
If you are concerned you won’t have enough milk for your baby, make a habit of pumping after baby has finished eating. This will encourage your body to make more milk, and the milk you collect will be hind milk.
There are two types of breast milk. One type is fore milk and the other is hind milk. Fore milk is thinner and works to satisfy your baby’s thirst. Hind milk is the good stuff. It contains more good fats and is thicker and will satisfy your baby’s hunger. (Tip: if your baby tends to feed briefly but often, feed her on one breast per feeding session so that she will get the benefits of hind milk.)
Eating right to make enough breast milk
We all want to lose our extra pregnancy pounds after giving birth, but don’t skimp on the calories when you are breastfeeding. You still need some extra calories to make enough milk for your baby. Try to cut out empty calories, and replace your snacks with healthy options. Don’t forget you can still take your prenatal vitamins while you are breastfeeding, but that these do not replace healthy eating.
Oatmeal is a great food for a breastfeeding mom. Oatmeal has been shown to increase breast milk production along with a host of other health benefits. You can even make oatmeal cookies to curb your sweet-tooth cravings and boost your milk production at the same time!
As always, water plays a huge role in your health. Making all that milk means you need to keep your own fluids up. Make sure you are drinking at least an 8 ounce glass of water every hour while awake.
There are a few herbal remedies that are supposed to increase your breast milk supply. Always ask a doctor before taking any kind of herbal supplement. What you take in does pass into your breast milk, and you don’t want baby taking in any potentially harmful ingredients.
I wish you success on your breastfeeding journey with your baby. Remember that there is no shame in having to supplement with formula if you just can’t make enough milk for your baby. Keeping your baby healthy and full is the most important thing! If you have any concerns about your baby’s eating habits, call the pediatrician.