Most new mums are familiar with having to express their breastmilk. Whether you’re pumping because you’re engorged, because you need to leave your baby with a caregiver, or if you are returning to work, expressing milk, as with any other skill, is something that will improve with practice.
However, some mums, like Cynthia Lee, initially had problems using a breastpump, “I was constantly engorged, but when I pumped, I only got a few drops of milk each time.” To make matters worse, her nipples were sore from chaffing.
“I was constantly engorged, but when I pumped, I only got a few drops of milk each time.”
As it turned out, all Lee needed to do was get a bigger breast shield. “The one that came with my pump was a bit too small for me, and it caused me a lot of pain. When I got a bigger one, it was a lot more comfortable and the milk came out easily!” she says.
Besides getting a breast shield of the right size, other factors can contribute to the amount of milk that you can ― or cannot ― pump. So, we have tips to help you maximise your pumping potential.
Infographic: Paulyn Ng
Follow these tips to increase your output.
1. Check your pump Invest in a good quality pump and make sure that the parts aren’t worn out and the tube connections are tight. Make sure parts, such as the breast shields, fit.
2. Hydrate Drink water before, during and after pumping.
3. Massage Before pumping, massage your breast from the outside, inwards towards your areola.
4. Wait for a letdown It’s important to get one or more letdowns while pumping. A pump with a “massage” mode can help with this. Letdowns help you empty your breasts and signal to your body to produce more milk.
5. Latch and pump If you latch your baby directly, you can feed your baby on one breast, and pump on the other breast. This helps signal your body to produce more milk, as if you were nursing twins.
6. Hand express Even if you use a pump, use your hands to compress your breast at the end of the pump session to make sure you’ve squeezed every last drop out.
7. Time your pumps Don’t miss your middle-of-the-night pumps! Prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production, is highest during the wee hours of the night, and very early in the morning!
8. Power pump Power pumping mimics the frequent feeding of a baby during a growth spurt and is very effective in increasing your supply. Here’s how you do it:
Pump for 20 minutes + rest for 10 minutes + pump for 10 minutes + rest for 10 minutes + pump for 10 minutes.
One power pumping cycle will take you around an hour. Do it every once in a while to boost your milk supply.
Main photo: iStock
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