Looking for ways to pump more breastmilk? We talked to Spectra Mums about when they pump and how they get the most milk. Here’s what they had to say.
Pump more breastmilk at night
Did you know that you produce more breastmilk late at night and in the early morning hours? If you notice you feel at your fullest in the morning, even if baby has fed throughout the night, you’re not alone. Levels of prolactin, the milk producing hormone, are highest at night. Therefore, you’ll produce more breastmilk at night. If you’re looking to pump more milk, try pumping a couple hours after your baby has gone to bed. Don’t worry about not leaving enough milk for baby – breastmilk production is all about supply and demand, so your body will regulate quickly to make more milk during these times.
I find night pumping most successful for me. Baby is more predictable. He goes to bed at 7:30ish … generally wakes 12:30 -1:00am so I pump at about 10pm so I get a decent amount with enough time to regenerate a good feed.
Try tandem breastfeeding and pumping
Have you considered pumping one one side while baby is feeding on the other? Many women experience letdown on the opposite breast while breastfeeding, and that milk goes to waste in a breast pad! You can set up your Spectra breast pump as a single pump to pump on one side while bub is breastfeeding on the other. Or, you could use a manual breast pump, or a suction style silicone breast pump to catch the extra milk. If your goal is to pump more milk, using an electric breast pump will be most effective.
Spectra Mum Joanne tandem pumps and feeds every night so she can donate breastmilk. She recommends setting up before bed to make things a little easier during the night (our blog has more tips for breast pumping at night).
Set it up before bed as a single pump and attach to the side he isn’t feeding on.
Power pumping to increase milk supply
Power pumping is one way to boost your milk production. Power pumping is pumping in short bursts of time over the course of 1-2 hours. It’s designed to mimic cluster feeding, which is what your baby does during growth spurts or times of illness to signal that he needs more milk. To power pump, set yourself up to be comfortable for a couple hours. Many women find power pumping after bubs goes to bed to be most effective because there are fewer interruptions – plus, you get the highest levels of prolactin, the milk producing hormone, late at night. You can queue a movie or TV show to watch while you pump. Pump for 5-10 minutes, pause for 5 minutes, and pump for 5-10 minutes more. Repeat this pattern for 1-2 hours.
You can read more about power pumping and other ways to use your breast pump to boost your milk supply in our blog:
Power pumping with a single pump
You can still power pump if you’re using a single pump. Joanne, who sets up her Spectra breast pump as a single pump to tandem breastfeed and pump at night, sometimes lets her bub sleep through pumping sessions. Here’s how she power pumps using a single-pump setup:
If pumping in one side at a time just pump the other side during the “rest” time for power pumping.
Drink plenty of water while breastfeeding
It’s important to drink a lot of water when you’re breastfeeding, especially if you want to pump extra breast milk. Non-breastfeeding adults should normally drink between 1-2 litres of fluids each day, but you should drink closer to 3 litres of water each day while breastfeeding. A good method to follow is for every time you pump or breastfeed, drink one glass of water. Remember, if you’re ever feeling thirsty or dehydrated, or your mouth is dry, make sure you’re drinking water.
Pump 20 mins to 30 mins minimum as it takes a while to get a let down. Drink loads of water and eat well (lots of fresh fruit & veges) also eat oats. You can try taking Herbs of Gold breastfeeding supplement. Are you using a pumping bra? You get more milk with one. I use a maternity singlet with a built-in bra & slits cut for the flanges.
It’s also important to eat a healthy diet while you’re breastfeeding. Certain foods can also help increase your breastmilk supply.
Pump often to maintain supply
Last but not least, if you want to pump more breastmilk you should pump more often. Breastmilk is all about supply and demand, so the more the pump, the more you will produce. Try pumping between breastfeeding sessions, power pumping, or increasing the amount of time you spend pumping during one session (a good rule of thumb is to continue pumping for 5 minutes after you’ve noticed milkflow has slowed or completely stopped).
I pump to donate. I do this 2-3 times a day and then do a pump 2-3 hours after the little one goes to bed. I upgraded to a Spectra so I could get better output and help more bubs.