Yes it is possible to express lots of milk even if you think you’re terrible at pumping – I’m living proof! When I first started pumping, I could get an average of 25mls per pumping session (and that was on a good day – sometimes I would get 10mls or less!) but now days I can get 150ml PER SESSION!
When my daughter first started childcare I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to express enough milk. I bought organic soy formula for her to have at childcare, but I really wanted to be able to pump as much as possible so that she could keep having breastmilk even when she was at childcare.
I did lots of reach online and tried all kinds of techniques to try to increase my output. I’m not really sure what worked best because I tried so many different things in combination, so I thought I would share everything that I tried in the hopes that it will help some other mummas increase their yield also!
Try different pumps
My husband thought I was crazy, but I ended up buying three different breast pumps, and I’m so glad I tried out some different options. When I was using a Medela Swing single electric pump, I was getting 25mls per session (that’s from both boobs total!) after I switched to a Medela on the go double electric pump, my output doubled so I was getting 5omls per session. I would strongly suggest getting a double pump. It makes life so much easier because you can pump in half the time. And FYI my third pump is a compact hand pump that I use when I go out – very handy!
Drink LOTS of water
I knew that I didn’t have an issue with my supply, but I also found that pumping was more effective when my boobs were fuller, so I figured increasing my supply would probably help. And I find the best way to increase supply is to drinks lots (and I do mean LOTS) of water. I drink 4-6 liters of water a day.
Figure out the time that works best for you
I kept reading that the early hours of the morning was the best time to pump, but I found that wasn’t the case for me at all. I’ve tried all the “key” times – early in the morning, super early in the morning, and late at night, but none of those times worked for me at all. For me, I’ve found 12 noon to be the optimal time for me to pump.
Train your boobs to withstand longer pumping sessions
I used to stop pumping as soon as the milk stopped flowing, but then I discovered if I kept pumping I’d have another let down, so I’d keep going, but then I’d have to stop because my boobs were too sore. So I’ve gradually increase the amount of time that I pump for each day and overtime my boobs have gotten tougher and now I can pump for longer periods of time without them getting sore.
Heat is your friend
Before pumping I try to have a hot bath or shower and I get out of the aircon and sit in the hottest part of the house. It’s not comfortable, but the hotter the room is the more I seem to be able to pump!
Get into a routine and just stick with it
Now that Charlotte is attending part-time childcare I’ve gotten into a routine of pumping every three hours while she is away and it is incredible how quickly my output has increased! I pump at lunch time and then I pump before I go to pick her up. That gives me about 300ml of milk.
I send her to childcare with 2x 100ml bottles, and any extras go into the freezer. She usually drinks 2x 60-80mls of milk at childcare, plus she eats plenty off food while she’s there, and she’s still nursing around 4 times a night so I’m not worried about her milk intake at all!