How can I pump more milk?

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Answered by: Holly, An Expert in the Pumping Breast Milk Category
Looking to pump more milk? The first thing you should evaluate is your expectations. Many women believe that their baby should be consuming a large amount of breast milk in a bottle. This means they are often dismayed when they are only able to pump a few ounces every few hours and disappointed in their apparent inability to pump more milk. The average woman may only produce between a half-ounce and 3-4 ounces from both breasts combined, when pumping every 2-3 hours. However, this is often enough for your baby. The quality of breast milk changes as the baby grows, so the breast-fed baby generally takes smaller bottles less often, when compared to a formula-fed baby. However, if you do need to improve your pumping output, there are several methods you can use when you are pumping breast milk for your baby. They are mechanical, physical, and medical.

Consider your pump. Pumping output is best on an electric machine that pumps both breasts at the same time. All pumps have tubes and collection bottles. These accessories require maintenance and need replacing on a regular basis. Tubes should not be cracked and should be free of any clogs. Some pumps have membranes and valves that can wear down quickly and lose function. If you see that these have been damaged, replace them. Additionally, many pumps lose suction over time. If you suspect that your pump has lost suction, call the manufacturer. There are also many boutique stores that specialize in breastfeeding and pumping that offer services on pumps to diagnose and correct problems.

Second, there are actions you can take for yourself physically that can improve your pumping output. It is of paramount importance that you eat a reasonable diet and drink enough water. Within reason, the more water you drink, the more milk you may pump. But there are other things you can do as well. While you are pumping, perform breast compressions by compressing the breast on the sides where the milk ducts are. This will make the milk express more readily and in larger quantities. It may also help to stimulate a letdown of your milk.

Finally, if you have tried the above and are still unsatisfied with your ability to pump more milk, consider taking a galactogogue to improve your milk supply. Galactogogues are herbs or medications that are known to increase a mother's milk supply. Good examples of galactogogues are fenugreek and blessed thistle. Galactogogues work better when they are taken together, so taking more than one at a time is more highly recommended for greater success. Galactogogues come in many forms, including teas, capsules, loose herbs and tinctures for consumption. Many galactogogues are commonly used in ethnic dishes worldwide, so they are usually a safe and often an inexpensive method to increasing your milk supply. Increasing your milk supply, along with putting your pump in top working order and taking care of your body, is the most complete route to being able to pump more milk for your baby.

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