Breast milk. It is considered wonder food for babies, and for good reason. The compounds in breast milk provide the ideal nutrition for infants and the benefits carry over to mama, too.
So why is it so dang hard? To breastfeed, to establish milk supply…all of it seems to involve some type of formula (pun intended) or code that seems hard to crack. But it doesn't need to be! You can indeed increase and maintain your milk supply well into your postpartum period. As I write this, I'm 10 months postpartum and pump about 30 ounces daily on average. Read my tips below.
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pUmping versus Breastfeeding
I read a lot about the difficulty of maintaining my breast supply as an exclusive pumper versus exclusive breastfeeding mom. I haven't had that experience. With my second baby, I experienced oversupply (our little chubakins was drinking upwards of 40+ ounces of breastmilk every day!) and around month 6 or 7 I switched to solely pumping due to being bit (ouchie!) and falling into a rhythm of pumping that made sense for my family. Hubby is a stay-at-home dad and I work from home, so I'm able to provide freshly pumped milk for our little guy as needed. He also wasn't the best at pulling milk out of my breasts and since he's such a hearty eater, hubby and I liked keeping track of how many ounces he was consuming.
5 Tips for Keeping Milk Supply Up
- Manage milk oversupply issues. Whether you pump or breastfeed, you can be prone to milk blebs, clogged ducts, and the dreaded mastitis – which are all supply killers. While having oversupply can be a benefit, it also means you must empty your breasts of milk much more frequently and adequately while ensuring you don't become engorged or clogged or get a breast infection that will stop milk flow. I swear by these sunflower lecithin supplements to prevent recurring clogged ducts.
- Use these to pump more milk. I love these LaVie lactation massagers. I put off buying them until my second baby and I don't know why I waited. Not only do they massage my breasts (and pull more milk out…not sure the science behind it but it works) but they have a heating element as well. Love these for helping me empty my breasts.
- Replace your breast pump parts!!!! Sorry for the excessive exclamations but this one is CRITICAL. The featured image for this post was taken from my morning pump session of 13 ounces! That's 3 ounces more than my typical morning pump (again I'm 10 months postpartum). This was after I replaced my duckbill valves and silicone membranes for my Spectra. Replace your pump parts, ladies!
- Get fit for the proper flange size. I had no idea what I was doing when I became a first-time mommy. Thankfully there are so many resources online to help! A friend referred me to a Facebook group of breast-pumping mamas who helped me figure out my size. I went from 28 mm all the way to 19 mm. With the right size flange, I was able to extract way more breastmilk!
- Pumping bra. This has less to do with establishing milk supply and more to do with convenience. Get yourself a hands-free pumping bra. You'll wonder how you ever pumped without one!
Check out all of my recommendations for your Breastfeeding+Pumping journey.
Any questions or concerns, drop them in the comments below!