Postpartum, Pumping

Boost Milk Supply: 5 Ways to Make More Breastmilk and Feed Your Baby

manual breast pump for better milk supply

As a new mom, one thing I found myself feeling stressed about often was breast milk supply. I was constantly looking for ways to boost breast milk supply. There is a lot of pressure on new moms when it comes to breastfeeding choices. From “Fed is best” campaigns and “Is she breastfeeding?” as a question that comes up more times than you can count in the first few months, a lot of moms carry heavy feelings around breastfeeding and their breast milk supply.

Wondering about the safety of drinking while breastfeeding? Learn more from my post on the Zulily Blog here.

At Postpartum Together, we believe there is no perfect way to feed a baby. We encourage you to find the way that works for you and we support your choices to honor yourself and your baby. If you find that using breast milk is what works best for you and your family, these tips are for you. If you decide that breastfeeding is taking a mental and emotional toll on you, we encourage you to evaluate other ways of feeding (Formula is not a bad word!)

Like every part of motherhood, what works for one mom may or may not work for another. Our bodies are different. We produce breastmilk differently and respond to supplements differently. For example, some women swear by Fenugreek to boost milk supply, while others experience a decrease in milk supply from the supplement Fenugreek.

Tracking Your Breast Milk Output as you Boost Milk Supply:

One way to evaluate whether the methods are working is to measure your breast milk output. For many women, though, this is very stressful. If you are directly nursing, you can watch feeding times and windows between feeds to see if baby seems satisfied and full. If you are pumping, you can measure the ounces during each session. Remember, though, your worth is not measured in ounces! If you are pumping, a favorite tip of mine is to put a sock over the bottles so you are not constantly watching the measurement on the bottle. That kind of stress does not help anyone!

5 Tips That Can Help You Boost Low Breast Milk Supply

 1. Lots of water

When you are making milk and liquid is leaving your body, you need to be putting that hydration back into your body! Many new moms find themselves struggling to get in enough water due to the busyness of the days. Make a commitment to drinking more water- aim for at least ½ of your weight in ounces (and then some). In one of my recent New Mom Growth and Empowerment Groups with Postpartum Together, all the moms ended up with this huge water bottle to keep them on track!

2. Feed/Pump during the morning (between 1-5am)

Your body tends to produce the most during the 1-5am hours. Many women do not take advantage of this time because, well, it is early and inconvenient. However, if you are looking to increase your output to build a freezer stash or plan for the day ahead, an early pump session can be very beneficial. If you plan to go back to sleep after this session, keep the lights low and do not spend the time on your phone so that it is easier to fall back asleep.  If you are getting up at 4 or 5am and staying up for the day, get to bed early enough!

3. Lactation Cookies

You do not have to convince me to try cookies for helping anything. So when I learned about lactation cookies, it was a no-brainer. Popular lactation cookie recipes are heavy on the oats which are galactagogues. Some also include brewers years, another galactagogue many believe increases milk production. If you want to skip the baking you can send the recipe to a friend or family member when they ask “What do you need?” or you can buy them pre-made. (I never used pre-made so I cannot recommend a brand or type, but I can say that the ones I made myself were heavy on the chocolate chips because… why not!?) Here is one of my favorite cookbooks for breastfeeding (or not!) mamas. It’s a must!

4. Dark stout beer

Want to learn more about the safety of alcohol while breastfeeding, learn more from my piece on the Zulily Blog here.

Some research links lower cognition to alcohol usage, though the usage researched is typically numerous drinks. Dark malty or stout beers have galactogogues and for many, increase milk production when used in moderation (1 drink).  Personally, I had one dark stout beer right after a pumping or feeding session and could see the output increase in the following sessions. These types of beers have the same components as oatmeal and brewer’s yeast and so it makes sense it would have the same impact. Drinking out of moderation can have a number of negative effects, so keep to a moderate amount.

5. Power pumping session

In order for the body to make milk, it needs to be told that milk is needed. When we want to increase milk output, we can increase the “request” we make on the body. Power pumping is a way to tell the body that more is needed. It is not something you make a long-term habit, but something you do for a couple of days. Whether you are exclusively nursing, exclusively breastfeeding or a combination, power pumping can be a helpful way to stimulate your breasts for more milk.

Example Power Pumping Schedule:

-Pump 20 minutes

-Rest 10 mintues

-Pump 10 minutes

-Rest 10 minutes

-Pump 10 minutes

Do this 1-2 times a day for a day or two to give your breasts a “make more” signal.

Tips for power pumping

1. Don’t sit and watch the ounces. Use a sock to cover the bottle and do not take it off until your session is complete

2. Drink lots of water

3. Do something to relax

4. Do a warm compress and/or massage before starting.

Related: Maximize your pumping output

Do You Really Need to Increase My Supply?

When you are looking to increase your breastmilk supply, ask yourself why you are doing so.
Are you feeling pressure to have a huge freezer stash?
Are you truly not making enough milk and want to try to produce more?
Are you afraid of supplementing with or using formula? Why?

Remember every body is different. Milk production looks different for every mom. Your worth is not measured in ounces. Your mental and emotional wellness is necessary.

Wondering about the safety of drinking while breastfeeding? Learn more from my post on the Zulily Blog here.

Pumping

5 Must-Know Tips for Exclusive Pumping While Traveling

TIPS FOR PUMPING WHILE TRAVELING FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Adapted from an original post written as a guest post for Belibea (not sponsored, but because their nursing cami saved me on a daily basis and I want everyone to have that.) This post contains affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission from any purchases you make from the links. To skip right to the FREE DOWNLOAD pumping while traveling checklist, click here!

How to breastpump while traveling

BEING PREPARED FOR PUMPING WHILE TRAVELING OVER THE HOLIDAYS

So the holidays are upon us and you’re making lists and filling your calendar and probably feeling a mix of excitement and overwhelm.

If you’re traveling, that’s an added layer.

Pumping?That’s an added layer.

If you’re PUMPING AND TRAVELING, woo girl buckle up. Okay, I’m kind of kidding, but also I know it can be a mental, emotional, and physical strain and I want to help you be best prepared.

When you feel extra stress or lack of routine and schedule, your milk supply can be compromised during this time. I want to help you ensure that you can both enjoy the holidays with your baby and family and maintain your feeding goals and health.

RELATED: Amazon Pumping Shopping List

KEEP STRESS LOW, THE SCHEDULE CONSISTENT, AND THE BAG PACKED.

When considering holiday travel, there are a few factors to think about. How are your emotions and stress levels during travel and extra activities? What logistics do you need to think about beforehand to ensure you have the gear and space you need?

The following tips will help you to prepare for and enjoy the season so that you can focus on making memories with your baby and family.

5 TIPS FOR PUMPING WHILE TRAVELING FOR THE HOLIDAYS

1. TALK WITH THE HOST PRIOR TO THE EVENT TO DISCUSS WHERE YOU CAB PUMP.

Knowing that there is a quiet, private space for you to pump will allow both you and your host to be prepared. If you want privacy, communicate that and ask that your host have a room accessible. Discussing this beforehand can take away the awkward conversation in the moment (hey can you pass the turkey AND my boobs are about to explode!) and give you peace of mind and less stress entering the gathering.

2. DRESS FOR EASY PUMPING.

Belibea Pumping and nursing nourish cami

RELATED: Easier Exclusive Pumping

Save time and stress by dressing with your pumping in mind. The Belibea Nourish Tank allows you to have a comfy stylish undershirt while also making nursing or pumping very accessible. I had two of these tanks throughout my year of pumping and basically wore one every time I went out of the house and knew I would need to pump. No thinking about the “double shirt’ method or strapping a pumping bra on awkwardly. EASY. (You can use CHELS20 for 20% off any Belibea purchase. Wohoo! You’re going to want to wear this baby everyday!)

3. HAVE A PLAN FOR MILK STORAGE.

Again, this is a good conversation to have with your host beforehand.

Is there a refrigerated space you can store your milk during your visit?

If you will be staying in a hotel, ensure that a minifridge will be provided in your room.

You also want to consider long car rides or plane rides. If you are traveling by plane, make sure you know your rights for traveling with breastmilk.  For any long ride (plane, car, train) be sure to have means to keep your milk cool and follow milk storage guidelines.

4. WRITE OUT YOUR SCHEDULE AND STICK TO IT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

This is a balance, and no one is going to do it perfectly (have grace momma), but doing your best to stick to your schedule without letting it stress you out, can be vital to supply and routine for both you and baby. The schedule tells your body when and what to produce and helps maintain your milk supply. Skipping feeds or pumps can lead to clogged ducts and possibly mastitis- which is not how you want to enjoy your holidays! Write out your schedule beforehand and plan for when you will “sneak away” to pump. Perhaps you won’t need to have privacy, but hey, it might be nice to get a few minutes to yourself.

RELATED: Online Exclusive Pumping Course

5. MAKE A CHECKLIST OF ALL THE GEAR YOU WILL NEED AND DOUBLE-CHECK IT BEFORE LEAVING HOME.

Write it out (or print it out) and double-check before you leave! Many of these items are things you may be using day-to-day so it can be hard to pre-pack everything. Double-check the list before leaving home so that you won’t need any middle-of-the-night store runs during your trip!

Pumping checklist for traveling

HERE ARE PUMPING PACKING LIST IDEAS TO GET YOUR LIST STARTED:

Download this checklist for FREE here!

Car adaptor: Allows you to plug your electric pump in so you can pump in the car

Battery Pack: If you don’t have a battery-powered pump like the Spectra S1 or Medela Freestyle, you can use a battery pack to make your pump portable (I used this for my Medela Pump in Style and Spectra S2)!

Breast pads: There will probably be a time your feed/pump is delayed and you want to preserve your shirt!

Sterilizer bags: This makes it quick and easy to sterilize pump parts and bottles

Quick clean wipes: Especially helping during travel- these wipes give you a way to clean your gear without soap and water

Easy feeding system: The Kiinde system allows you to skip milk transfer and quickly go from pump to feed.

Bottle cleaner and soap: For when you get the chance to do a good scrub on your pump parts and bottles!

Nursing tank: The Belibea Nourish Cami is my go to because it’s so easy (and extra cozy!)

Cool/heat packs: In cases of engorgement or the need to help milk flow, these little tools are so helpful!

Cooler bag: For when you’re traveling and not able to refrigerate, cooler bag to the rescue!

Nipple cream: Because we have to take care of the girls!

Milk bags: Easily cool and store

Cover: If you prefer privacy, might as well make it stylish.

Pump: Don’t forget your pump!  It can be helpful to have a manual on hand even if you regularly directly nurse- sometimes babies don’t eat as much during travel and visiting and you still need to get that milk out!

Hand sanitizer: For when the soap and water aren’t available but you need to keep those hands clean!

Download this free checklist here so you can put it on your door and double-check before heading out!


Free download checklist for pumping moms

So sister, you can do this. The biggest work is in making sure you get everything packed up and on the go with you and then communicating your need to step away. Enjoy those breaks, sneak some extra apple pie with you, and shoot me a message to say hello while you’re pumping over the holidays (Don’t worry, I don’t think it’s weird if you message me while your boobs are being milked. I’m cool with that.)

Happy Traveling!

RELATED: Sex After Baby

Pumping

Hands-Free Pumping: Tips to Make it Easier

Pumping with the Medela Freestyle

This post is written in partnership with Medela who sent me a breast pump in exchange for my opinion and experience with hands-free pumping. My blog contains only my honest opinions. This post may contain affiliate links for related products. This means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission for products purchased through the link.

review of medela freestyle pump

Exclusively Pumping and My Breaking Point

“I’m not sure how long I can do this- plugged into the wall multiple times a day while trying to keep the kids safe and occupied.” Tears streamed down my face when I broke down to my husband. When we figured out that direct breastfeeding was not an option for her, the world of exclusively pumping entered my life. Exclusively pumping turned out to be more difficult than I ever could have imagined. I felt torn about breastfeeding. While I wanted to provide my daughter with breastmilk to the best of my ability, I also didn’t want to sacrifice our time together and my own mental state. There had to be a way to make it more manageable and enjoyable. Sure, I already had a hands-free pumping bra, but still, I needed to be mobile to keep up with my kids.

Breastmilk Isn’t Free

Whether you pump full time or part-time, you know the breastmilk you provide isn’t “free.
It’s comes from:

  • Hours of planning, washing, feeding, packing, and pumping.
  • Remembering to have all of your parts if you’re leaving home.
  • Choosing your clothing carefully and timing your outings accordingly.
  • Using your work break or child’s naptime to pump.
  • Taking care of each precious ounce and explaining to caretakers how to do the same.

    It’s a labor of love, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work to make it more manageable and enjoyable for ourselves and other moms.

At first, I didn’t even know mobile pumping was an option. I assumed, like many women, that a pump needs to be big, bulky, and attached to the wall. So, I calculated 15-20 minutes for each feeding I was pumping for and saw myself losing independence and precious time with my kids. The more I learned, the more I was relieved. With a little digging, I found that companies like Medela are empowering moms through their pumping journeys.

I Needed Hands-Free Pumping for my Sanity

hard to pump with a baby and toddler at home

We all hit a point where we know we have to have something to help us continue the pumping journey. For me, it was my daughter’s surgery date approaching and knowing we would be in the hospital for a week or so. I needed mobility so I could be present for every doctor coming into the room. I needed to be able to multi-task effectively.

Enter the Medela Freestyle into my pumping story. Medela is a name I already trusted. Their Pump In Style is the first pump I used and the Symphony got me through our NICU stay. Not only that, but I was already using a number of pumping and feeding accessories from Medela, so it was a natural fit.

medela free style breast pump review

Questions about Hands-Free Pumping

Prior to its arrival, I had a few questions:
Would the battery life be too short?
Is the suction be comparable to my larger pump?
Would it be too bulky to actually carry around with ease?

As soon as it arrived, I was quick to test it. Setting it up was easy (thank goodness because I am not a fan of multi-step instruction manuals!)

Now I can often be found tucking or clipping the pump into my back pocket as I go about my day (yes, it’s small enough!)

My output in a pumping session is equivalent to my larger pump (and sometimes I get more out of a pumping session because I don’t have to stop to get up and chase a toddler then try to reconnect.)

The adjustable suction is great for women who are used to direct feeding or women who are more regularly using the pump.

The battery lasts me 3 days on average (using it multiple times a day) and the recharge is quick between pumps.

Multi-Tasking with Hands-Free Pumping

Fast forward to pumping while cooking, cleaning, and pushing my toddler on the swing. These days include pumping as I am getting the kids ready in the morning and cleaning up in the evenings. Do the kids want to go to the park or meet up with friends? It’s not a problem because I don’t have to be back in 3-4 hours just to pump. It’s not perfect- pumping is a labor of time and energy and organization, but being mobile while pumping sure does beat being stuck to the wall. I have pumped in the car, on a walk, in our backyard, at the hospital, at family gatherings, and all without being confined to the wall.

RELATED: Making Exclusive Pumping Easier

Tips for Success with Hands-Free Pumping

how to breast pump on the go
  1. Mobility

    When new moms ask me how to successfully breast pump for an extended time, my top answer is mobility. Being tied to the wall and having time “sucked” out of me quickly started to make me feel discouraged and resentful. Pumping felt like a full-time job and I struggled thinking about what I was missing out on by being tied to the pump. The shift to mobile pumping not only was a physical shift but a mental and emotional one too. No longer does pumping taking away from my time with my family. It no longer keeps me stuck on the couch. No longer does it control the timeline of my day.

  2. Support

While mobility has been the top factor for me in overcoming pumping struggles, the second biggest factor is support. We get tired. We get frustrated and have dips in supply. Sometimes we feel “pumped out.” There’s no ideal amount of time to pump, but at any point, support can make all of the difference. Need to track your pumping time or volume? My Medela App gives you a way to keep tabs on it all from your phone. And when you need to troubleshoot or hear from others? Mom’s Room Breastfeeding Support creates a safe space for you.

If you’re a pumping mom- whether exclusively or partially, find ways to make it mobile for you. There are numerous resources and products designed just for this. We reduce the stigma and educate others on their options by finding ways to make it work for us, uniquely. Find your way and be proud of the commitment you’re making! You’re a great mom. Are you pumping and traveling? Pumping on the go? I took the work out of packing your bag with this Free Pump and Travel Checklist.

Pumping

Easier Exclusive Pumping

BREAST PUMPING: TIPS TO MAKE IT EFFICIENT AND MANAGEABLE

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

Are you exclusively pumping? Pumping to build a stash? Wondering if you’ll need to pump when baby comes?

When you google “Motherhood,” you don’t often come across pictures of a breast pump with tubing and plastic that connects to your body. Breast pumping, whether exclusively pumping or pumping along with breastfeeding to build a stash, adds a new element to motherhood.

First, as reproductive women, anything in a committed relationship with our breasts brings out an element of intimacy which involves a physical connection, emotional connection, and a mental connection.

There are a number of reasons why a woman may choose to breast pump, and a variety of ways to do so.
There are a number of products that make this journey easier.
There are tips to ensure that it is both effective and comfortable.
Just like with breastfeeding, there are also complications that can creep in and require troubleshooting.

We are going to talk about each of these areas.

RELATED: The Ultimate Exclusively Pumping Class (eCourse)


pumping with larken X brapumping with larken X bra

As a disclaimer, I am not a medical expert nor am I a certified lactation consultant/counselor (you can find a great one here). I am simply an experienced mother who is wildly passionate about learning and education on postpartum, and I have been both a breastfeeder and an exclusive pumper. My first son was a avid breastfeeder, my daughter was born with cleft palate and unable to breastfeed from the start, so I have found myself in two distinct places in regards to feeding.

WHO MIGHT CHOOSE TO EXCLUSIVELY PUMP?

Mothers of babies with breastfeeding complications.
Mothers who had a tough breastfeeding journey previously.
Mothers who need to be away from baby often (career, travel, etc.).
Mothers who want to closely monitor baby’s milk intake.
Mothers who have adopted and are working to induce lactation (isn’t this amazing!?)
Mothers who just simply want to go this route. (For any of a number of reasons they don’t need to explain.)

WHY BREASTMILK?

Many moms chose to include breastmilk (whether as the sole mean of feeding or as a combination with formula) because of the many benefits of breastmilk. Breastmilk provides natural antibodies to the baby, increases the immune system, and has a number of long-term effects as well. For the mother, breastfeeding can lower the risk of a number of illnesses and diseases.

The amount of breastmilk a mother provides can vary based on the mother’s supply. Some women are over-producers, some are just-enoughers and some are under-producers. There’s no magic equation here. It’s not about what moms do right or wrong, but knowing our bodies are biologically different in many ways, and milk production is one of them. Some women who struggle with production actually have insufficient glandular tissue which limits the capability of milk production. If this sounds like you, please consult a professional and do NOT feel shame!

BREAST PUMPING EFFICIENCY


how to pump while drivinghow to pump while driving

Maximize your pumping by multitasking. Now, this is not always possible but if you have an errand to run, pump in the car. If you have a paper or blog to write, try to cozy up in a spot where you can pump. Sometimes, you might even pump during lunch or dinner. It’s not ideal, but it’s your reality and by embracing it, you can enjoy it more instead of resent that machine attached.

I have found that it is imperative to have a “team” around you while pumping. This team is made up of products made to support you on this journey. These products help to make multitasking possible and decrease the time spent on the process.

RELATED: Amazon Breast Pumping Shopping List

Hands-Free Pumping Bra:
Think about how many minutes you are pumping. If you’re stuck holding flanges, you might go crazy. This time can be spent doing other things and a hands-free pumping bra makes that possible. You may even find you want more than one as these serve different purposes.
1. They get dirty/milky so they need to go in the wash. If you’re like me, 3-4 hours between pumps might not be enough time to get the laundry through.
2. Keep one in the car or your diaper bag. This ensures you’re never stuck without one on-the-go or when you get stuck at an appointment longer than usual.
3. Different bras are helpful for different reasons/times.

The Larken X:
Why I love it: It’s super comfortable and really easy to slide the flanges into. It’s also chic and makes me feel cute! You can pair it with their tank to get full tummy coverage too.
When I use it: When it’s easier to just keep a pumping bra on under my clothes, when I’m sleeping, when I want to be comfortable.
Bonus: Get 15% off at Larken with the code: CHELSEA15 (Shop here)

Simple Wishes Hands-Free:
Why I love it: It has a super snug fit when adjusted to your body size. This makes me feel like I’m getting the best suction to empty my breast. It’s quick to put on and can be put on over what you’re already wearing.

Belibea Nurish Cami:Why I love it: This tank is unlike any I’ve seen before. It has a double latch feature so that you can breastfeed or pump with it. One snap allows you to fit the pump flange inside for pumping. The double snap opens all the way up for feeding. I also love that you can have the comfort of the full tank (which includes shaping features on the side.)
When I use it:
Anytime I want to use the tank as a part of my outfit for the day.
Bonus: Get 20% off your purchase with CHELS20


belibea pumping and nursing cami tankbelibea pumping and nursing cami tank

CLEAN AND MOBILE PUMPING

Car Converter:If you spend time in the car, using that time to pump can be so efficient. You may or may not be comfortable with having your breasts and pump out while driving (I recommend staggering your car at the stop light!) but a simple nursing cover will give you the privacy. I personally use my Medela In Style pump in the car so I use this converter (which also comes with a battery pack- another helpful tool! Make sure to grab 8 rechargeable batteries so you can take your pump on-the-go. I use the battery pack and stick my pump in a backpack for walks!) If you use a different pump type, you can find your converter type online.

Sterilizing wipes: If you’re pumping on-the-go and can’t wash your parts, sterilizing wipes in the car or diaper bag are very helpful. Give the parts a quick cleaning to make sure bacteria does not build between pump sessions.
Medela Breast Pump Sterilizing Wipes (can be used on any brand of breast pump)

Sterilizing Bags: It is recommended that bottles and pump parts be sterilized once a day. Now you can boil a pot of water and do it that way, OR you can pop 2 oz of water into these bags with your parts and put it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Each bag can be used 20 times!

Are you pumping and traveling? Let me take a task off your brain with this Free Pumping and Traveling Checklist so that you know you have everything you need!


TIPS FOR EXCLUSIVELY PUMPING EFFICIENTLY:

1. Get your pump!
Most insurance companies offer a free pump. Make sure to call while you are still pregnant and ask about the policy and what is offered to you. They will most often send you a link where you can choose a pump (you can compare pumps here). Try to get your pump before delivery so that you can set it up and learn to use it. If you do not wish to get your own pump through insurance (or if that is not an option for you,) you can often rent the medical grade pumps from the hospital. Ask your medical provider prior to delivery if you’d like to explore this option.  Most exclusive pumpers use a dual electric pump. This is going to pump both breasts at the same time and have the electric suction. Not only is this helpful for saving time, but many women report better output when pumping both breasts at the same time.

2. Know your flange size. Flange is a word you probably only use if you’re a pumper. The flange goes directly on the breast and mimics the mouth of the infant on the breast. It is important to have the correct flange size so that the breast is pumping most effectively.

3. Get your partner involvedYour partner can help you when you are pumping. Washing parts each night/morning and helping with milk storage can help cut down on the time spent on the process. Less time can help lower the stress of pumping for a mother and help her to increase the length of her pumping journey. Another way your partner can help is by feeding the baby while you pump. Think of this as special time to chat together!

4. Know what to look for in breast complications Just like with direct breastfeeding, complications can arise when breast pumping (or combo feeding.) Mastitis and thrush are two concerns you can be educated about so that you know if you’re being affected and how to address the issue. If you think you’re facing one of these complications, contact a lactation counselor or your medical provider for help.
So momma- high five to you. Whether you are an exclusive pumper, a sometimes pumper or thinking about pumping in the future, your commitment is not overlooked! Pumping is hard work, I won’t sugar coat that. Hopefully with this information and these tips you’ll find ways to make it efficient, effective, and a way of life for you and your family.
What questions do you still have about pumping? If you’re an experience mom, what has gotten you through your pumping journey? Let’s keep the conversation going below!

PIN THIS POST


exclusive pumping pinterestexclusive pumping pinterest