How To Pump More Milk: The Ultimate Guide

Does it feel like you spend every spare minute pumping your breasts? And then you look down at your storage container and see what you’ve collected wouldn’t even fill a shot glass?

How is your baby ever supposed to grow and thrive if that’s all you can provide for him?

Are you worried about having to supplement with formula if you can’t learn how to pump more milk?

Welcome to my world. That’s how my breast pumping experience went in the beginning. I felt like a failure.

Instead of throwing in the towel, I educated myself. I read everything I got my hands on and soon enough I was pumping like I was a pro. I saw my milk quantity skyrocket.

My baby had plenty of breast milk to drink and I was able to start stockpiling some in the freezer, too. In this post I will share with you some of the best tips I stumbled upon, as well as my first 6 months exclusive pumping schedule.


Finding The Perfect Breast Pump

Woman holding the Medela Freestyle Electric Breast Pump

You wouldn’t try to change a tire without the proper equipment, right? Because that would be insane — you’d be setting yourself up for failure. Breastfeeding is kind of like that. You need the right equipment — a great pump — at your side.

Without that, you’re going to be in pain, frustrated and producing such a small quantity of milk, you’ll need to squint to see if there’s any in the bottle.

Related Reading
Woman breastfeeding frustrated with low milk supply25 Tips to Increase Your Low Milk Supply

Here are some tips to get you through the difficult task of selecting the right pump:

1. Choose a Quality Pump

If a pump looks cheap, it probably is. That means it likely won’t perform well. You don’t want to entrust your boobs to a piece of plastic that will feel like a torture device. If you skip breast pumping sessions because they’re painful, your milk supply will suffer.

Higher-end models have better features to make pumping as efficient and painless as possible, like customizable suction levels, massage modes, and variable speed settings. Get the best possible model you can afford.

If you skip breast pumping sessions because they’re painful, your milk supply will suffer. Your health insurance may cover the cost of the pump, so don’t forget to check your plan guidelines (source). Your insurance provider may have several pumps to choose from, so be sure to do your homework to learn the pros and cons of each.

2. Electric First, But Keep a Manual As a Backup

If you plan to pump only occasionally, like once a day or less, a manual pump is sufficient. But if your goal is to be pumping more than fists in the air at a concert, an electric pump is a must have.

I knew right away that I wanted a double electric pump because I planned to be expressing several times a day so my baby would be covered when I went back to work.

Take Note

The concern with using manual pumps isn’t their ability to express milk, but the time and effort it takes to do so. Electric pumps get the job done in less time, with less work on your part.

It’s still a great idea to have a manual pump in addition to your electric one. You can use it to completely empty out your breasts after electric pumping — which will increase your milk supply in the long run (source).

It can also be used when you are on-the-go, late at night, or when you want more control over the suction. Most manual pumps are very affordable, so there’s very little downside to investing in one.

Manual pumps are easy to use if you’re pumping at the start of a feeding to help your nipples evert, to soften your areola, or to get the milk flowing.
Headshot of Michelle Roth, Certified Lactation Consultant

Editor's Note:

Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC

3. Choose a Double Pump Over a Single One

While single breast pumps might be attractive because of their cheaper price point, not only will you save time by doing them both at once, but you’ll also get more milk if you pump both breasts. Why?

Remember

Pumping both breasts at once increases the level of prolactin, a hormone responsible for milk production.

Increased milk producing hormones means a bigger milk supply. Win-win! (source).

4. Don't Skip the Instructional Manual

This might sound obvious to you, but all pumps are different. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen moms on the forums talking about getting their expression mode mixed up with the massage mode, or not even realizing their pump had certain features they had been looking for.

Read the instructions carefully before you operate yours. If you don’t, you could cause yourself some unnecessary pain. That pain may make you skip or shorten sessions, which will hurt your milk supply. Also, you want to be sure you’ve got the pump put together right so the suction works effectively.

5. Make Sure The Breast Shields Fit

Breast shields  – sometimes referred to as flanges – are a critical part of the breast pump. If you don’t have properly-fitting shields, you are setting yourself up for pain and failure.

Size Matters

The main rule you need to know about breast shields is that they aren’t based on the size of your breasts — but rather the size of your nipples. (source).

The breast shield should fit over your nipple and form a seal around your areola.

If you choose a breast shield that’s too small, it’s going to feel like you’ve been using sandpaper on your nipples after a few minutes because the nipple is rubbing against the plastic. Plus, it can clog your milk ducts, hindering your milk drainage, which is exactly what you don’t want when you are trying to pump more milk.

If you choose breast shields that are too big, your breast may not fully drain either. And you may end up with swelling and even bruising of the areola because too much breast tissue is pulled into the pump.

Medela's Guide to Finding The Correct Breastshield Size

Once you have the correct fit, your nipples will be centered in the breast shield tunnel and be able to freely move during pumping. (source)

You should also be cautious about measuring your nipple size immediately after pumping, as your nipples and areola will still be enlarged , and could result in you choosing a much larger breast shield than you actually need.

Learn More
Close up of breastfeeding babyThe Best Nipple Shields To Make Your Breastfeeding Journey a Success

6. Don't Be Afraid to Try a Different Pump

Even if you’ve put a lot of thought into what kind of pump you picked out, you might need to ditch it and get another.

If you’ve tried everything from this guide, but you are still getting less milk than you should be with the pump you currently have, you might have better luck with another one or even with expressing milk by hand.

All pumps are different, and the truth is that some just work better for different people. It might be difficult to give up on your current pump if you’ve already invested a lot of money into it. But by doing so sooner, you’ll be saving yourself so much time and frustration in the long run.

I learned this one the hard way. My pump and I were getting along great for three months, and then it slowly started to lose suction. I found a different pump and was able to get significantly more output.

#Pumping Goals

Bottle of pumped breastmilk with a light white color

To find success with pumping more milk, you need to realize the battle will be as much mental as it is physical.

There will come times where you need to give yourself pep talks just to get yourself through some of the stumbling blocks you’ll come across.

Here’s what you can do to set yourself up for success:

7. Make Sure Your Goals Are Realistic

You need to set goals that you’ll be able to reach. Your goals will be based upon how long you’ve been breastfeeding too.

Take Note

If you set a goal to get 8 ounces of milk every time you pump, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

When a baby is feeding at the breast exclusively and all is going well, your milk supply slowly increases – from very little on day one to about 30 ounces per day around one month.

Also keep in mind that if you are pumping in conjunction to breastfeeding, your output will vary too, depending on the amount of times you are nursing per day.

Milk production isn’t like turning on a faucet. It takes time to build up a great supply.

It’s also unrealistic to imagine getting 8 ounces at a time. When a baby is feeding 10 times a day at one month, he’s probably getting about 3 ounces per feeding. So, this would be a more reasonable amount to pump at one time.
Headshot of Michelle Roth, Certified Lactation Consultant

Editor's Note:

Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC

8. Know Your Limitations

Knowing what can alter your milk production will put the power back into your hands. By knowing what can affect production, you can stay on track, especially during difficult times.

Having an underactive or overactive thyroid can cause less milk, as can breast surgeries, poly-cystic ovary syndrome, birth control methods, medications, herbs, and not pumping or breastfeeding frequently enough.

9. Don't Forget to Relax

Relaxation will help your milk flow freely. Some of my favorite ways to keep relaxed when I was breastfeeding or pumping were:

  • Listening to calming music (or an audio galactogogue)
  • Creating my own favorite pumping spot that I would return to each time to pump
  • Making sure I was seated in an ergonomic way (having a comfortable chair that will allow you to lean forward is a must)
  • Preparing a snack before I started, so I wouldn’t have to be disturbed when I was in the zone
  • Having a good book or T.V. show ready to keep me entertained.

I personally liked to pump while watching my favorite sitcoms. I was laughing so hard at times, I almost forgot I was pumping. Oftentimes multitasking or just taking your mind off the task is enough to help you get more milk!

10. Power Through The Hard Times

Breastfeeding and pumping can be both be very difficult, especially in the beginning. Deciding beforehand that you’re not going to quit even if times get hard can help you stay on track when struggles occur.

I definitely had bad days while I was breastfeeding, but I powered through them, and in the end, I’m glad I did.

Remember

Pumping is just like anything else you hope to be good at — the more you practice, the better you’ll get. If you find you’re still having a hard time despite practicing, talk to a lactation specialist or consult an online group.

How to Keep The Breast Milk Flowing

Spectra breast pump standing on the table

There are a few things you should know before you start breastfeeding to give yourself a chance to produce enough milk so you won’t have to supplement with formula.

Related Reading
New mother breastfeeding her baby12 Best Lactation Supplements to Get the Breast Milk Flowing

11. Check Your Diet, Stay Hydrated and Sleep Enough

Make sure you’re eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and drinking enough water.

drink more water to increase milk supply

Staying hydrated is important to breast milk production, too. While most pregnant women should consume somewhere around 10 cups of fluids per day, breastfeeding or pumping moms need closer to 13 cups of liquids (source).

Make sure you’re getting enough rest. While there’s no magic number about how much sleep is needed by a breastfeeding woman, you should try to get as close to a full night’s sleep as possible. If you find you’re up with the baby constantly during overnight hours, try to work in a nap during the day.

get more sleep to increase your milk supply

Getting enough sleep was a constant struggle for me. I just couldn’t seem to work it into my schedule. I was sleep deprived for the first six months of my baby’s life, but I tried to offset that strain on my body by sleeping in on the weekends whenever I could.

12. Set Up a Solid Pumping Schedule

Spontaneity has its place in your life. But if you are planning to exclusively pump and want to pump as much milk as you can, you need to put a schedule in place.

Take Note

Routine, regular pumping sessions will help your body produce the maximum amount of breast milk it can and you’ll have a better chance of dodging issues like clogged milk ducts that can derail your efforts (source).

When you have a newborn on your hands, your routine might feel as if it is taking over your life sometimes. You might feel like you just stopped pumping and you have to start right back up. That’s normal in the beginning. You’ll be pumping every 2 hours or so those first few weeks to build up your milk production (source).

If you are planning on exclusively pumping, here are some example schedules that you can use for the first 6 months that will really help maximize your output.

DOWNLOAD PUMPING SCHEDULE

First Two Weeks Pumping Schedule:

0-2 Weeks Pumping Schedule

  • Pump every 2 hours during the day and evening, right up until you go to bed.
  • Each pumping session should last about 20 minutes.
  • During the hours you should be sleeping, you should pump whenever your baby wakes up.
  • Spend about 20 minutes pumping at this time as well.

Two to Six Weeks Pumping Schedule:

2-6 Weeks Pumping Schedule

  • Your pumping sessions during your waking hours will remain the same (every 2 hours).
  • At night, your baby will be waking up less frequently, which means you will pump less frequently at night.
  • But, even if your baby remains sleeping, you shouldn’t go any longer than 4 hours without pumping. That will help keep your milk supply up.

Six to Twelve Weeks Pumping Schedule:

6-12 Weeks Pumping Schedule

  • If your milk supply is doing fine by this point, pump every 3 hours during waking hours.
  • Continue pumping for 20 minutes for these sessions.
  • At night, you’ll want to pump at least once every 4 to 6 hours for 20 minutes each time.

Three to Four Months Pumping Schedule:

3-4 Months Pumping Schedule

  • Fit at least 6 pumping sessions into your waking hours.
  • Try to space each one out by 2 and ½ to 3 and ½ hours. So you may want to pump at 6 a.m., 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
  • These sessions will only need to be about 15 minutes each.
  • During sleeping hours, you can get by with only pumping once.

Four to Six Months Pumping Schedule:

4-6 Months Pumping Schedule

  • You can start pumping every 4 hours, for 15 minutes each time.
  • During overnight hours, you should still try to get up once to pump.

Six Months On Pumping Schedule:

6 Months Onward Pumping Schedule

  • You can only pump every 4 to 5 hours if you are still getting enough milk to get by with that reduced schedule.
  • At night, you may find you’ll get to sleep the whole time if your baby does.
  • If your baby doesn’t wake up and you don’t need the extra milk, cut out the overnight pumping session and get some sleep.

13. Don’t Blow Off Pumping Sessions

If a friend stops by to see you and your baby, you might lose track of time. A few hours later, you realize you skipped the 2 p.m. pumping session you planned to do that day. That’s not so bad, is it?

While that one missed session won’t cause your milk supply to become as dry as a desert, getting in the habit of skipping pumping sessions can hurt your milk supply dramatically, plus you’ll become engorged (source). And that’s no picnic.

The first time my breasts became engorged, I couldn’t concentrate on anything but relieving that pain and pressure.

14. Should I Pump Longer or More Frequently?

Women who are pumping exclusively should pump between 8 to 10 times every 24 hours.

Take Note

Pumping frequently is one of the keys to producing as much breast milk as possible. But making sure you pump long enough is crucial too.

You might find you’ll need to pump as long as 20 minutes each session to fully drain your breasts, but once you’ve reached a high level of milk production, you can lower that number to 10 to 15 minutes (source).

If you’re still struggling with milk production however, you should try pumping more often, as often as 12 times every 24 hours.

You should also pump a couple minutes longer each session too — that will ensure you get all the milk that’s in there. When you’re struggling to increase your supply, every drop counts.

15. Use Your Baby to Help Stimulate Your Letdown Reflex

Your milk flow is controlled by your let down reflex. To help yourself let down your milk and start stockpiling it for a rainy day, there are several things you can do. Some breast pumps have let down modes, but there are non-mechanical ways of achieving let down too.

  • You can massage your breasts.
  • Use wet heat from a washcloth.
  • Look at your baby or even a picture of your baby.
  • Touch or smell your baby.

Sometimes right before I pumped before my bedtime, I would go into my daughter’s room and stare at her for a few minutes. Other times, I would grab a piece of her clothing and inhale that wonderful baby scent. It really seemed to work for me.

16. Pump In The Morning, As Early As You Can

It’s no secret moms try to get as much sleep as possible during the night. Since they’re resting more if their babies are cooperating, when they wake up in the very early morning, they tend to have more milk because their milk stores have had time to build back up (source).

Pumping at least once between the hours of 1 to 5 a.m. will put you in that precious peak prolactin timeframe (source).

17. Perform Basic Pump Maintenance

To ensure it’s in good working order, you need to keep your pump in tiptop operating condition. Here are some basic steps you can take to ensure your pump is operating at maximum performance.

Breast Pump Maintenance Checklist

  • You’ll want to make sure it’s kept clean and sterilized between uses.
  • If it’s an open system, that sterilization is especially important since milk particles can reach the motor of the pump and possibly contaminate the next batch (source).
  • If you notice your pump isn’t expressing as much breast milk as it used to, you need to check all the parts of the pump, including the membranes, suction and flanges (source).

18. Products That Can Help You Pump More Milk

Pumping isn’t easy, and it’s a fact that’s acknowledged by companies. Moms have their choices of products that are aimed at helping them increase milk supplies or upping their comfort level so they’ll continue to pump (source).

These are a few of the most popular products to help you continue soldiering through any pumping struggles you might have.

  • Nursing pillows can help you find the best and most comfortable position while pumping.
  • Cleaning kits enable you to thoroughly clean your pump as quickly as possible.
  • Nipple cream can help you handle the worst of the soreness you’ll have from your breast shields.
  • Hands-free pumps (I love the Medela Freestyle) and pumping bras which allow you to multitask when pumping.
  • Hot/cold packs specifically designed for breastfeeding are helpful if you find warmth helps to increase the amount of milk you’re able to get when pumping.

With all these tools at their sides, moms everywhere should have an easier time than ever before when it comes to pumping milk.

Advanced Strategies For Maximum Output

Advanced Breast Pumping Strategies for More Milk

19. Refrigerate Your Pump Between Uses

You are exhausted between all the work of pumping around the clock and then the extensive cleaning that you have to do just to ensure the pump is ready to go again just a couple hours later.

Life Saver

Instead of cleaning your pump every time, you can just put it in a giant ziplock bag and store it in the refrigerator as soon as you’re done pumping. If you have a closed system, you can simply take off the parts that come in contact with the milk and put them in the refrigerator. It’ll save you so much cleaning time each day, you’ll be able to squeeze in more baby time or extra sleep (source).

This was one of my favorite tips to use. Every day, I would refrigerate the parts of my pump that came in contact with my milk. At the end of the day, I would wash them. That saved me so much time.

This nifty little hack is considered safe for healthy babies; however, those who have preemies or babies with weak immune systems should take the extra precaution of washing parts every time. As an alternative, there is always always the option of buying a spare set of pump parts.

20. Help Stimulate Your Let Down Mode

Your let down mode can be affected by a number of factors, including stress and exhaustion. Both of which are hard to dodge when you’re a new mom.

Luckily, you can improve your let down using some of the following methods

  • Using breast massage
  • Using nipple stimulation
  • Seeing, smelling or touching your baby
  • Keeping a positive emotional balance
  • Stimulating it mechanically by alternating between the expression mode and the massage mode on higher-end breast pumps.
How to improve the let down reflex when pumping
How to stimulate and improve your let down reflex (source)

21. You Aren’t Limited To One Let Down Per Breast

While the most milk you’ll get in a pumping session will come with the first let down, it is possible to get more than one let down in a session (which is what typically happens when baby is feeding at the breast).

You’ll have to pump longer to make it happen because you’ll have to wait until the milk starts to slow from the first round. Then you use your breast pump on the massage mode once more for a few minutes until your second let down happens.

You can also use hand massage and nipple stimulation to encourage another let down to occur. A popular method is the “Jiggle, roll & stroke” as demonstrated in this video.

22. Pump and Nurse Simultaneously

Pumping while nursing might seem really hard to do at first, like you’d need as many arms as an octopus to make it happen. But once you get the hang of it, it’s not hard at all.

It’s even easier to do if you have a hands-free bra as your secret weapon. It’s one less thing you’ll be required to hold in place and using the hands-free bra will let you spend more time focused on your baby and less time worried about the pump.

To be honest, this scared me the first time I saw someone do it. I thought I would drop my baby! It wasn’t easy, but I managed to capably do this after some practice.

23. Be Willing To Adjust Your Pumping Schedule

When you notice an upswing in how much milk you are producing, it might be time to tweak your schedule.

You can pump a couple minutes longer per session and focus more on how many times you pump per day overall, rather than worrying about making sure they are spaced out every two hours.

If you go back to work, you’ll likely also have to tweak your schedule once again (source).

24. Try Your Hand at Power Pumping

Power pumping is when you try to prompt your body to produce more milk by draining your breasts fully and often. It may stimulate additional milk production because it imitates how your baby will feed during her growth spurts.

She’ll suck longer, harder and more often in an attempt to fuel her growing body. That, in turn, lets your body know to boost up milk production (source).

How Power Pumping Works

You should pump for about 20 minutes, rest for 10 to 15 minutes, then pump again for 10 more minutes, give yourself a break for 10 minutes, and then pump another 10 minutes before finishing.
How To Power Pump To Increase Milk Supply
How to Power Pump for Increased Milk Supply (source)

25. Add These Foods To Your Diet

Although it may seem strange, adding oatmeal to your diet can help your body increase milk supply (source). Try to add a serving a few times a week.

Other foods you can add that seem to help women in their quest to pump more milk include spinach, carrots, fennel, fenugreek seeds, basil, garlic, barley, asparagus, brown rice, apricots, almonds, brewer’s yeast, flax seeds and sweet potatoes (source).

Another big favorite among moms is a product called “Mothers Milk Tea“. It uses a herbal blend of things like fennel, fenugreek seed and coriander which all known for their lactogenic properties. I know, it sounds disgusting, but it’s actually not that bad with a sweetish licorice-like taste.

You can also find can find a bunch of “lactation smoothie” recipes online. One of my favorites was using bananas, flaxseed, oats, almond milk and strawberries.

lactation smoothie to increase pumping supply
Milk Boosting Lactation Smoothie Recipe (source)
“Lactation cookies” use many of these same ingredients – just be sure you’re not eating too many and adding excess calories to your diet.
Headshot of Michelle Roth, Certified Lactation Consultant

Editor's Note:

Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC

26. Pump With Your Hands After Using Your Breast Pump

If you use an electric pump, try pumping by hand when you’re finished to see if you can get extra milk.

To hand express milk, you massage your breasts and give any spots that feel full extra attention with the massage.

After the massage, compress each breast by hand several times until you no longer notice any milk flow.

By manually pumping, you’ll be able to ensure that each breast is fully drained (source).

27. Try Pumping An Hour After Breastfeeding

Moms are often scared that if they pump then they will not have enough milk to feed their babies directly. However, this is not the case because breast milk is always being produced, so there shouldn’t be any fear about pumping and causing your baby to go hungry.

The reason why pumping an hour after breastfeeding is the perfect time is because your baby has already had her appetite satisfied and likely hasn’t drained every drop from your breasts. Plus, by waiting an hour after your baby has breastfed, your breasts will have started to fill back up with milk (source).

If you pump now, you’ll get a good amount of milk, and you won’t have to worry about shortchanging your baby at his next feeding. By the time that rolls around, your breasts will have had enough time to refill.

28. Regularly Use Massage and Breast Compressions

Making breast massage and compressions a regular part of your daily routine will help drain the excess milk from your breasts that your pump might have missed.

But it can also help you prevent clogged milk ducts or remove the clogs that have already formed. Clogged ducts can slow the flow of your breast milk by collapsing surrounding milk ducts (source). Clogs can further impact milk production because it can lead to mastitis, a painful breast infection.

29. Use Warm Showers To Your Advantage

Moist heat is a breast’s best friend when it comes to getting the milk flowing.

Take Note

To make sure your breasts are ready to release their liquid gold, you can take a warm shower before pumping or apply a warm, wet washcloth to each breast for a few minutes.

This is especially helpful if you’ve skipped a breastfeeding session or two and you’re experiencing the pain of engorgement.

A hot shower can be just the relief you’re seeking because it will get your breasts to start releasing milk in no time flat. Whenever I would have problems with let down, I’d hop in the shower and it worked every single time.

30. Make Sure You’re Leaning Forward While Pumping

Let gravity be your friend, not your foe (source). By leaning forward, the milk won’t pool in the pump, and will go straight into the storage container.

Keeping Your Milk Stored Properly

Frozen breast milk storage bags in a container

It doesn’t matter how much milk you’re able to pump if you end up wasting it because you aren’t storing it properly.

There’s nothing worse than seeing all your hard-earned breast milk go down the drain. These tips will help you make sure your supply will be safe when your baby needs to drink it.

31. Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

If you’ve pumped fresh breast milk and haven’t put it in the refrigerator or freezer, it will remain fine to drink for 4 to 6 hours at room temperature.

Related Reading
Bottle of expressed breast milk on the counterHas Your Breast Milk Gone Bad?

Breast milk will remain safe in the refrigerator for 3 to 8 days, and it will be safe in the freezer for 6 to 12 months (source).

You should always label your milk with the date you pumped it so you never have any doubt about whether it has spoiled.

To make sure you don’t waste breast milk when heating it after it has been in the freezer, you should package it only 2 to 4 ounces in a pack. That way, if you find your baby isn’t as hungry as you thought she might be, you won’t be pouring an 8 ounce bottle of refused breast milk down the sink.

Breastmilk storage guidelines
How long is breast milk good for? (source)

32. Products To Help You Store Your Milk

Whenever you’re storing breast milk, you need to make sure the containers you’re using are sterile. You can store milk in glass containers or plastic containers, as long as they’re BPA free.

Related Reading
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Plastic storage bags can also be used, but they run the risk of tearing in the freezer and possibly becoming contaminated (source). So if you do decide to go with storage bags, you’ll make to make sure you buy ones that are designed specifically for freezing breastmilk.

33. Techniques You’ll Need When Storing Milk

  • You should never fill containers all the way to the top with breast milk (source).
  • It’s important to leave at least one inch of empty space at the top of the container because liquids expand when they freeze.
  • When freezing breast milk, don’t store it in compartments of a freezer door. It needs to go toward the center of the freezer because that offers the coldest and most constant temperatures.
  • If you’re freezing bags of breastmilk, lay them flat to freeze. This makes them easier to stack or to place together in a container with the oldest ones to the front.

Bringing It All Together

expressed breast milk in storage containers

Although it wasn’t easy and it took quite a bit of time, I’m so glad I put forth the effort to pump more breast milk. In the beginning, I wondered how I would avoid formula supplementation for my baby because I couldn’t get the hang of my breast pump.

But in just a short time, I was getting so many more daily ounces of breast milk by using all these tips and I was stockpiling breast milk in the freezer. I had more than I could use. I no longer felt like a failure at this whole mommy thing.

So if you’re having trouble with your own supply, you owe it to yourself and your baby to try these tips. Try as many as you can and see if that helps. If you have any tips you didn’t see on this list, I’d love to hear them.

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The Ultimate Guide to Survive Breast Pumping at Work
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How to Heat Breast Milk Safely
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Frozen breast milk storage bags in a container
The Best Breast Milk Storage Bags for Storing Your Liquid Gold

29 Reader Comments

  1. This is a great list and resource for breastfeeding moms. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Thank you Clair! What is your best tip for moms who are struggling to get started with their pump?

  2. Heather

    Hello,

    This is a great list! I’ve noticed that I can 9-10 oz. (total) when I pump first thing in the morning, but after that each pumping session will only get 3.5-5 oz. (total) and goes down fro there. In the afternoon, between 2-6, I notice a severe decrease even if I nurse my daughter or pump.

    Can you help me with a schedule for nursing and pumping during this time that would help me increase my supply?

    • Hey Heather! Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post and leave a comment.

      To answer your question – in my opinion, it’s perfectly reasonable that you’re getting more milk in the morning compared than the rest of the day, since this is when Prolactin (the hormone responsible for milk production) is at it’s highest.

      So, for this reason, it usually makes sense to nurse more often in the afternoon/evening when milk production is slower, while a good time to pump milk to store is usually thirty to sixty minutes after the first-morning nursing.

      But, without knowing your exact situation (baby age, how long you’ve been nursing, etc.) I can’t help beyond there. If you would like to email me (jenny@momlovesbest.com) we can chat and I can try help you 🙂

  3. Is it possible to increase your milk supply after 12 weeks or is it more or less set by that point? Im only producing about 10-15 oz a day and have to supplement with formula, but would really want to eventually stop the formula.

    • Hey Maria! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment.

      There are two parts to answer your question. (Please read both)

      Firstly, in my opinion, you can still increase your supply at 12 weeks. As always, it’s about supply and demand. For example, if you were to cut out the formula your baby would require more from your breasts, and after a few days, the milk would start increasing slowly until your baby was getting enough.

      Secondly, what is the underlying cause of your “low supply”? This is much more difficult for me to answer. Perhaps you started supplementing too early, out of fear. Maybe there is an issue with your latch or maintaining your schedule. Or perhaps you have an underlying medical condition that is tampering with your hormones, and therefore your supply. I have a very in-depth post on the topic of increasing milk supply, please take a look here.

      I hope you will be able to reach your goals and I will be rooting for you! But just know that you’re doing great already mama!

  4. Regina Dinges

    Really appreciate your effort and what you have shared us about breastfeeding moms is really important! I hope this list can be useful to my pregnant sister!

  5. Katie Dunn

    My sister just gave birth and has been having trouble with pumping. She isn’t the best at staying hydrated, and so I’ll definitely make sure to advise her to drink more water. However, does it matter whether the water is warm or cold?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Katie, thanks for the comment and I think that’s a great idea to help your sister stay hydrated. It’s super important when trying to maintain a healthy supply. I can’t find any data or reason to suggest that either cold or warm water would have any benefits over the other. So in that case, just go with whatever you prefer!

  6. Angela Cameron

    I was frequently pumping while on work but was getting low every coming day. My pump output was not exceeded for more than one and a half oz per session and I had to formula feed my baby. But, since I started drinking Healthy nursing tea 3xday my milk production increased to 4 oz per session.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Thanks for sharing that inspiring story Angela! I’m so glad you managed to get your supply back on track. Drinking lactation tea was a game changer for me too!
      Best regards,
      Jenny

  7. Carolina

    Is it possible to increase my milk production exclusively pumping? My baby hates to drink directly from me.

  8. Reena

    How much should I be pumping a day? People write they have low supplies so what qualifies?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Reena,

      It depends whether you are exclusively pumping, exclusively breastfeeding, or supplementing with formula.

      If you are pumping between regular feedings, you would typically expect 1.5 to 2 ounces (45-60 mL).

      If you are pumping for a full feeding, you would expect about double that – 3 to 4 ounces (90-120 mL).

      Hope that helps!

  9. Paru

    Hi Jenny! Thank you so much for sharing such a detailed list. I think you’ve provided a ton of information for expressing mamas who are looking for help.

    I was wondering, can you shed some light on how much expressed milk is normal as your baby gets older? For example, I can pump 700-800ml of milk total a day. I am a twin mom, and my babies are 11 weeks old. Unfortunately, I am having to supplement with formula because I am not expressing enough to feed them both.

    Is 700 ml a reasonable amount of milk to express at 11-12 week? Thank you!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      The amount of milk a baby needs differs from kid to kid. One of your twins might even need more than the other. In general, most baby’s from one to six months of age need anywhere from 3-3.5 ounces of milk every 3 hours. So that’s about 25 to 26 oz a day. It might be different for your twins based on their size and if they were born early though. Have you spoken to your doctor about how much milk your twins should be getting?

  10. Rebecca Ohanian

    You saved my milk supply! Had never heard of Power pumping before reading up about it on your blog. I wasn’t able to keep up a milk stash anymore before doing this two days ago. I was only getting two or 3 ounces every time I pumped and I just got 9 ounces!!! Thank you so much!!!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Congrats Rebecca! So happy for you 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story with us and all the best going forward!

  11. Angela Cameron

    I was facing low supply and I used Healthy Nursing Tea. This is definitely helping me keep up with my cluster feeding little one, who wants to nurse all day. I usually brew 2 tea bags for as long as I can (10mins+) before drinking. I drink this morning and night, and within about 4+ hours my breasts are engorged and leaking ready for feeding.

  12. Hannah Chenault

    I loved your article! I never write comments, but this article deserves praise. You took the time to write about every question a mom runs into when trying to pump and increase their supply. Your article was honest, easy to read, realistic, and user-friendly, thank you for that.

    I’m a second-time mom and was doing great with my supply, but recently (2.5 wks in) I’ve had to use all of my frozen milk and have become discouraged. I stayed up the other night and spent the entire night breastfeeding and pumping! I finally fell asleep around 4 am and was up for a 6 am feeding.

    I’m taking your timeline and putting it to work starting today. And thank you for reminding me I need sleep; I became so wrapped up in eating and drinking for fuel that I forgot that I need to sleep too. Duh! I’ve saved this article and will be sharing it with all moms that I run into. It’s a knowledgeable and easy read. Thanks!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      That sounds exhausting! I hope the timeline works for you and you can get your supply up soon. Thank you for your feedback!

  13. Kathreena Abogado

    This is a good article! It was easy to read and user-friendly. Thank you.

    I’m a first-time mom and am not that confident with my supply. But with your article, I will go and get me a good pump. Thank you!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      I’m glad the article was able to help you. Which pump did you decide to get? I hope it helps!

  14. Destiny I.

    I loved your article and screenshotted so much of it. I’m not currently breastfeeding or pumping, but my I am being induced in two weeks. I’m trying to do as much research as I can because I’m going to be a full-time mom, part-time student, and I work 30-36 hours a week.

    I want to prepare for when I go back to work; I need to make sure my husband has enough milk on hand each evening while I’m at work. That way he can feed our baby through the night.

    I will be allowed to pump several times while I am at work, but I’m concerned with producing enough and having a good schedule when I switch from sleeping during the day to sleeping at night on my days off. My goal is to stock as much milk in my freezer while on maternity leave as I can.

    I’ve gotten a deep freezer, a spectra 2 pump, and I’m setting up my pumping corner. Do you have any suggestions for a mom that works evenings? Is it as simple as flopping the suggested schedule to my sleep schedule?

    Also, do I pump for 20 minutes on each breast or 10 minutes on each breast? Also, how long do I let my baby nurse? If he nurses on my left breast and I pump my right breast simultaneously will the milk from my left breast be enough to satisfy him?

    Sorry for so many questions! It’s all a bit confusing!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Destiny,

      First, congratulations on your baby!

      As for pumping, I would always feed my baby on one side, while simultaneously pumping on the other. I would sometimes switch baby to the other breast halfway through, but because you aren’t limited to one let down per nursing session I didn’t always have to.

      As for working nights, I’ve never done that while nursing. I would assume that switching the schedule would work though. Do any other moms have advice for night pumping?

  15. Lisa Berkeley

    This article is a blessing, you are so encouraging and an inspiring to breastfeeding mothers everywhere! I have a 14 week old and I’m so busy that I had to supplement, unfortunately. I’m going to try a more structured schedule most definitely, and the power pumping helped instantly. I’m also going to try the lactation tea. How much tea should I drink till I see the results?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Lisa,

      I’m glad this article could help you! It took me a few days of drinking the lactation tea before I saw results. I also found that the more I drank the faster I saw results.

  16. Jessica

    Wow! This is the best guide out there that I have found on pumping. Great job! My second child was born on 10/18/18, and I followed a lot of these tips. So far I’ve been much more successful with my milk supply than with my first. My supply only took 2.5 days come in!!! Thanks so much for this. I think it is also worth to mention “Pumpin Pals.” They allow you to sit in a more natural, more relaxed position while pumping. I use them, and I know feeling more relaxed while I pump helps me produce more… Thanks again for the info!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Thank you for the suggestion, Jessica! Have any other moms used this product? I’d love to hear if it helped you!

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