During the first 4 months of Baby B’s life I was expressing as much milk for her as I could to try and give her the best start in life.
I found the following few tips invaluable for increasing my supply
- Pump often! – Seriously. The recommendation is between 8-12 times a day when your baby is newborn, aiming to simulate how often a baby feeds. This will replicate the demand for milk and encourage your breasts to produce more.
- Power pump – you can try to increase supply by having a power pumping session in the evening. This is spent pumping over the course of an hour in intervals of 10 minutes with a 10 minute break between each and simulates the cluster feeding stage that a breastfeeding baby goes through while it is ‘putting its order in’. This method doesn’t work for everyone but it’s worth a go, just grab a book or your favourite box set and set yourself up on the sofa for the evening.
- Make sure you pump at your most productive time – Your body naturally produces more milk between the hours of 12-5 am so make sure you get a pumping session in during this time (preferably earlier rather than later, so your breasts can restart the bumper production cycle for your next session). Missing this session can mean a real hit to supply as this is when you produce the most prolactin hormone which encourages milk production
- Drink loads of water – Tons. Get a pint glass or a reusable bottle and just keep refilling throughout the day. Try to remind yourself to have a sip every 10 minutes or so. Producing milk is thirsty work as it is made of 88% water, hence the need to pump your body full of extra fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Oats – A lot of mothers swear by oats as a milk production agent so try to add a meal or a snack a day to your regime which consist of these. You could make it fun by baking some oat cookies with chocolate chips etc or add some dried fruit for a healthier option
And finally, if you find it too much, don’t be afraid to stop. There will naturally be days where you find it difficult to find the time to pump, or get stressed with the amount you are producing. You can get through those! But if you genuinely are finding the whole process repeatedly demoralising and draining on yourself then it may be better to consider other options. You will feel guilt but you will not be a failure. Every single day that you carry on and get through it is an achievement.
I pumped for Baby B for 4 months before deciding that it was time for us to move to formula. With her becoming more alert and demanding as teething set in I was finding I just didn’t have the time to pump the way I wanted to and it negatively affected my supply. I felt guilty for about a month after making this decision and still do on some days now.
For more information on expressing check out KellyMom’s Blog. She has a ton of information on expressing and breastfeeding which I found really helpful during our journey.