how to: pump to increase your milk supply

breast milk freezer supply

by Darcy Sauers,  certified postpartum doula

There are many reasons that moms want to increase their milk supply and it is important to work with a lactation consultant to determine if you really do need to increase your supply.    

Your body makes the most milk in the mornings, so take advantage of that when building your stash.  After your first feeding of the day, watch the clock and pump at the halfway mark between your first and second feeding.

For example, if your baby generally nurses every 3 hours:

  • Breastfeed at 6:00 am when s/he wakes
  • Pump at 7:30am for no more than 10 minutes
  • Breastfeed at 9:00 am

By pumping in the morning when your milk is most abundant, you will still have enough for your next feeding.

If your baby generally nurses every 2 hours:

  • Breastfeed at 6:00 am when s/he wakes
  • Pump at 7:00 am for no more than 10 minutes
  • Breastfeed at 8:00 am

Pump both sides for no more than 10 minutes or so and freeze whatever you get in 2-4 ounce containers. Label with the date and amount.

You might not produce much the first day or two, but if you stick to this schedule every day, soon your body will adjust and you will notice a big increase in the amount you pump.

An important thing to remember is that if you are pumping to increase your supply, pumping longer will not help. It is more effective to pump more frequently for a shorter amount of time. For instance, pumping for 5 minutes every hour is more effective than pumping for 20 minutes at one time. This mimics a baby having a growth spurt and is way more comfortable for your nipples!  You may not produce much during these short sessions, but you are signaling your body to make more milk tomorrow.

Lastly, remember the 5-5-5 rule: breastmilk stays fresh for 5 hours at room temperature, 5 days in the fridge and 5 months in your freezer.

Doula Darcy Sauers

Doula Darcy is a DONA certified postpartum doula and also a member of CAPPA.  In addition to her extensive lactation training, she breastfed her three babies and experienced all sorts of issues, problems and joys. She is now committed to creating online communities for new moms to find nonjudgmental professional and peer support + will be offering virtual postpartum support groups to moms who gave birth in the same month. Darcy enjoys helping new moms meet their breastfeeding and pumping goals.