1. Pump at least 7 times a day.
Best would be if you can get somewhere around 9 pumps in the first days. In my case I had started out with 7 pumps and got just a little milk out. I then increased to 10 times for a few days and then cut back to 9 pumps for about two weeks. This seemed to make a big difference in my milk supply.
2. Make sure you have a good pump and all necessary accessories.
Check your horn size. Most women need larger shields so make sure your shield is the right size for you. A good site that provides you with all your pump accessories is pumpingpals.com. They also offer a nipple measuring tool that helps you decide whether or not you need to go for a larger horn. Also make sure that you have a good suction with your pump. Some pumps when utilized so much by exclusive pumping mothers tend to loose the suction they had at the beginning. To get your suction back you need to change the membranes. Buy additional membranes in advance. If you are not sure if your pump is loosing suction just test with the new membranes. You will probably need them anyhow so this is a good investment.
3. Before pumping apply heat to your breasts.
You can do this by using hot pads that you can put in the microwave or what I did was to wet a small towel and put it in the microwave for 20 seconds. It would then come out really nice and hot (like when you travel in the plane). I would apply that two or three times before starting and sometimes during the pump – my husband used to serve it to me wit a fork – that really helped me get out a few clogs. A hot shower before pumping helps too. However since you pump many times during a day it’s not realistic to really take a shower before each pump. Also what I didn’t like is that my milk started dripping out while in the shower and I preferred this to go into the bottle instead.
4. Massage your breasts.
Once you take your seat and are ready to put the horns on, massage your breasts. Massage them in a circular motion. This really helps stimulate the milk flow.
5. Drink lots and lots of water.
Your body needs the additional fluid to supply the milk.
6. Rest as much as you can.
I know this is easier said than done. Having a new baby at home is enough stress for any breastfeeding mom. Let alone pumping moms. The stress builds up even more if you have problems breastfeeding and are trying to understand why your baby just can’t latch on properly. What you should try next time your baby wants to feed etc…. During those first days I basically not only looked like a zombie, but was on a different planet. My husband no longer recognized me. I was trying to deal with my pumping sessions that were taking place right after my breastfeeding sessions, thinking non-stop about new things to try. Picturing my next latch on moves, thinking about a possible future without breastfeeding and stressing over it all. I didn’t get much sleep in the first two weeks and one day I started pumping and would only get milk for the first two minutes! I freaked out and called my husband that my pump is broken and he has to leave his work and get me a new pump. Well he did and the new pump was just as useless as my other one, which actually had been functioning perfectly well. I was just exhausted from lack of sleep and my husband suggested that I go to bed and get some hours of uninterrupted sleep and so I did. Magically the next day my milk supply had improved significantly, so believe me when I say that being relaxed and rested is one of the key points in increasing your milk supply especially in the first days pp. Waking up at night to pump also messes with your rest time. Read here for more on rest versus pumping in the middle of the night.
7. No need to sterilize your pump every time.
The below tricks are common among pumping moms:
- Refrigerator trick. Put your pump parts in a Ziploc in the fridge. That way the milk doesn’t attract any bacteria
- Wash and rinse the shield, connector and bottles with hot soapy water and sterilize once at night
- If you can afford it buy additional connectors and parts. It’s always safer anyhow to have additional parts incase something breaks
8. Use other means to increase supply.
Some non-medical methods that have an impact on milk supply are change in your diet.
- Oatmeal. I ate lots and lots of oatmeal. I had it for breakfast and for dinner. There are lots of different ways you can eat oatmeal and I tried lots of different combinations that I have listed here.
- Herbal tea. There are special teas that are made especially for breastfeeding mothers.
- Non-alcoholic beer. Just like oatmeal I was told that beer has a positive impact on milk supply.
Some medial methods are:
- Dom, Fenugreek, 2 capsules 3 times/day
9. Take it a day at a time.
It’s a good idea to set yourself short-term goals, like one week, two weeks, etc… but take it a day at a time. Remind yourself that you can stop anytime. That it was your decision to start pumping in the first place and this is not something that you are forced to do. That you are doing this for the sake of your child. Remind yourself of all the benefits of breast milk and how big and healthy your baby is getting from your milk. Remember though that your baby wants a happy contented mother, and that you CAN stop anytime. Remind yourself that formula is good too, and most of us anyhow were raised on formula and are perfectly healthy.
10. Join forums, blogs, and read stories of other moms that are going through the same situation as you.
Don’t let yourself get discouraged. I started out with such a low supply that I didn’t think I could make it to the next day. But I just tried anyhow because I thought I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t try. All the information I got on the internet really helped me. Here is a list of sites that are of great support. In addition you can read stories of other moms here. Submit your story to here so that I can post it for all the other pumping moms.
I hope these tips are of use to you. You can find more tips in my ebook. Please share any other tips you might have for other moms so we can update this list.
You CAN do this!