It is not easy to be the sole source of food for your baby. You need to produce enough milk and you need to produce it when your baby needs it.
To overcome this extremely stressful situation, many new moms turn to pumping.
However, just like everything else pumping is an art and you need knowledge, skill and practice to succeed at pumping. And that is why very often new moms do not achieve the results they are hoping for from pumping. And this leads to even greater stress.
In this article, I shall be answering some questions that I am certain will help you to pump more efficiently and relieve your stress considerably.
How much milk is enough?
Before you start berating yourself for not having enough milk or criticizing your breast pump for not being good enough – know how much milk is enough for your baby.
Never compare the amount of breast milk you are pumping with the amount of formula a baby of the same age is consuming. After the first 30 days, the amount of breast milk you produce will stop increasing.
This is because breast milk changes in composition and calories as your baby grows. In fact, your baby will not need a larger quantity of breastmilk as they grow. The same amount of breast milk will give them all the nutrients they need.
If your baby is active, gaining weight and passing urine and stool normally, stop worrying about how much milk you are pumping and relax.
How to get enough milk while pumping?
- Pump early in the morning – most women get the most milk at this time.
- Pump frequently for short periods – stimulation increases production.
- Practice skin to skin – having your baby close prompts your breasts to produce more milk.
- Massage your breasts before you begin and compress during pumping to move the milk to the nipples
- Make sure the flange fits well – a good suction is essential to empty the breast completely.
- Pump both breasts simultaneously to increase prolactin – this will increase breast milk production.
- Do not increase the suction too much – too much suction decreases breast milk production.
- Pump while direct nursing your baby – pumping the other breast while your baby nurses helps you take advantage of the let-down reflex initiated by your baby.
- Rest – even short naps increase breast milk production.
- Eat nutritious meals and drink enough water so that your body has the resources it needs to produce breast milk.
Why is the amount of milk you produce not the same as another mom you know?
- The amount of milk that can be pumped out in one session depends on the amount of milk that is stored in the breast. If another mom has more storage cells in her breast, she will be able to pump more milk in a single session than you will. If you have fewer storage cells, your breasts will produce milk continuously as it is pumped out. The process will be slower for you and you will need more sessions to collect the same amount of milk than she will.
- If you mainly direct feed – it will take you several pumping sessions to just collect enough milk for one feed. You must not get disheartened by comparing yourself to another mom who regularly pumps and leaves bottles for her baby while she goes to work.
The breast pump is a great tool that can help you to breastfeed for longer. It is important to learn to use it effectively.
Have any questions for our expert, Dr. Debmita Dutta? Please share your questions in the comments! Our expert will definitely clear all your doubts.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr. Debmita Dutta is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant and the founder of the website WPA whatparentsask.com – She is based in Bangalore and conducts Parenting workshops at schools and corporate organizations. She also conducts prenatal classes for expecting parents and infant care classes for new parents.