Not Pumping Enough Milk

Pumping breast milk can sometimes be challenging, especially if you are pumping full-time. We provide tips and techniques to maximize milk production. Know the reasons behind low pump output.

bottle feeding
Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Pumping can sometimes be challenging, especially if you are exclusively pumping. It isn't always easy to reach a certain amount of milk expressed per day. Also, pumps don't always extract milk as well as babies do. Therefore, if more of your baby's nourishment is coming from pumping rather than direct breastfeeding, it may be harder to maintain an adequate supply. You can consider the pros and cons of exclusive breastfeeding vs. pumping. Each approach has its benefits and downsides.

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This online course is designed to help mothers increase their milk supply through pumping. This course is composed of five easy-to-follow lessons that provide step-by-step strategies to help mothers express up to 50% more breast milk in less time.

The course covers essential topics like avoiding common pumping mistakes, implementing effective strategies for doubling pumping output, rapidly increasing milk supply, and proper breast milk storage techniques. Additionally, it offers practical guidance on nutrition to maximize milk supply.

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What Is a Normal Pumping Output?

It is common for mothers who are breastfeeding full-time to pump between half an ounce and two ounces of milk per session from both breasts. However, some mothers may pump more milk per session due to an oversupply of milk, a higher-than-average response to the pump, or through practice in increasing pump output. It is also not uncommon to pump two to three times to get enough milk to feed your baby.

Pumping output can also vary from session to session and day to day. It is normal to have an occasional low-volume day and for pumping output to decrease when your milk supply regulates, which can happen gradually or suddenly. For mothers with oversupply, this change may occur later, usually between six and nine months postpartum.

During a growth spurt, your baby may drink more expressed milk than usual, making it harder for you to provide enough. These growth spurts are temporary and can be addressed by increasing nursing and adding a pumping session or two until the growth spurt is over.

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What Can Affect Pumping Output?

Hormonal changes can affect pumping output. Menstruation or ovulation can result in a temporary drop in milk supply, and your milk supply may also decrease during pregnancy due to hormonal changes.

It is important to remember that the amount of milk you pump is not necessarily a measure of the milk supply available to your baby at the breast.

If you are experiencing a decrease in pumping output and need to pump more milk, there are a few things you can check. First, make sure you are using an appropriate pump for the amount of pumping you do, and consider the age of your pump. If you have an older electric pump, it may work less effectively. You should also ensure that you use the correct flange size and that your pump parts are clean and in good condition.

Other factors that can affect pumping output include your diet and hydration levels and the timing and frequency of your pumping sessions.

Body Armor Drink and Breastfeeding

Body Armor is a drink that is believed to increase milk supply in breastfeeding mothers due to its high levels of magnesium, calcium, electrolytes, vitamins, and the addition of coconut water. These ingredients have been known to have a positive impact on lactation and milk production.

bottle-fed baby
Baby being bottle-fed- Image by mariagarzon from Pixabay

How to Increase Pumping Output

Making sure you are well-nourished and hydrated can help increase your milk supply and pumping output. It is also helpful to pump at times when your milk supply is highest, such as in the early morning or after nursing sessions. Finally, consider using techniques like massaging your breasts, using warm compresses, or applying gentle pressure to your nipples while pumping to help stimulate milk flow.

Remember to be patient with yourself and give yourself time to adjust to pumping. As long as your baby is gaining weight and seems happy, your milk supply and pumping output are likely sufficient.

Taking Galactagogues While Pumping

Some common galactagogues that can help to increase pumping output.

  1. Fenugreek: This herb has been used as a galactagogue for centuries. It is available in capsule or seed form and can be taken orally.
  2. Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a nutritious and easily digestible grain. You can add oats to your diet by eating oatmeal, oat-based cereals, or baked goods made with oat flour.
  3. Brewer's yeast: This type of yeast is rich in B vitamins essential for lactation. It can be taken as a supplement or added to food and drinks.
  4. Fennel: This is a plant with a licorice-like flavor that has been used as a galactagogue for centuries. It is available in capsule or tea form and can be taken orally.
  5. Blessed thistle: Another herb that has been used traditionally to increase milk production. It is available in capsule or tea form and can be taken orally.

A more extensive list of galactagogues found here. If you are considering using a galactagogue, you should talk to your healthcare provider first.

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Trying Guided Relaxation

Guided relaxation during pumping refers to using relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or visualization, to help a mother feel more relaxed and comfortable while pumping breast milk. The goal of guided relaxation is to help the mother feel calmer and more focused, which can help to increase milk production and make the pumping experience more enjoyable.

There are several ways to practice guided relaxation while pumping:

  1. Take deep breaths: Inhale deeply through your nose, filling your lungs with air, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this several times.
  2. Use visualization: Close your eyes and imagine a peaceful scene, such as a beach or a mountain view. Try to focus on the details of the scene and let your mind wander.
  3. Practice progressive muscle relaxation: Starting with your feet, tense and then relax each muscle group in your body, moving up to your head.
  4. Listen to a relaxation recording: There are many recordings available that guide you through relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or visualization.

Finding the relaxation techniques that work best for you may take some time. The key is to find something that helps you feel calm and focused while pumping.