How To Maximize your Breast Milk Output

I have been fortunate enough to be able to donate over 100 ounces of breast milk (twice now) to moms in need. However, before I discuss what has worked for me in the way of breastmilk production, let me first and foremost say: I am 100% Fed Is Best. Whether you’re breast or bottle, I am a proponent of doing whatever your baby needs to be nourished.

I had an emergency c-section and was unable to do skin-to-skin contact with my Little One until many hours later. It was also just such a stressful time that although I asked for the breast pump to be brought into my room and pumped into that little machine every 3 hours on the dot, I didn’t begin to produce much of anything until about 5 days after my LO was born. I had to supplemented with formula up until she was about 6 weeks old. My LO is mainly bottle fed with expressed breast milk. Her morning feeding is breast milk through latching and expressed milk.

Around the time she was 6 weeks old, I changed what I was doing in my daily routine to try to help ramp up my production and my body was finally able to produce what she needed to be exclusively breast milk fed. These are the things I will outline below.

Operation Milky-Way

  1. Watched this video about maximizing output when pumping milk. It helped me realize how important hand expressing is with pumping milk and also that my flanges were too large. This website also has many other helpful videos for moms (latching, breastfeeding, a well fed baby). Maximizing Milk Output Video
  2. Hand Expression: I began to hand express after feedings and pumping. (helpful video on Hand Expressing). I used the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump 
  3. Drinking Enough: I drink about 26 ounces of in the morning with breakfast. I use 2 tea bags. The recommended is to work up to 4 cups of tea per day. I figured this was a happy medium. I use a big mug (this is literally my exact mug) in the morning so it’s a one and done tea situation.
  4. Drink More than Enough: keep up your intake of fluids throughout the day. I cannot stress this enough. If I run errands and forget to bring something to drink, my milk production dips at the next pumping. I use a 32 ounce Bubba mug and refill it three times a day. I add a little less than scoop of blue Gatorade mix to my water. I had heard that blue Gatorade helps with your milk. Maybe, maybe not. But it tastes better than plain water and motherhood is like a marathon 🙂
  5. Pump more frequently: When I made it my mission to get serious about production I decided to pump every 3 hours, which was a feat. I felt like I was just pumping all day. I did that for about 2 days. Then I made sure to pump every 4 hours, keeping to a 7a-11a-3p-7p-11p schedule. If I was off because life happens and I ended up pumping at 4p instead of 3p, I still pumped at 7p. I never pumped over night, because sanity.
  6. Wait for the Let Down part Duex: There are times when I’m pumping and nothing is coming out but I can feel that my breast is not empty. This is where hand expression comes in to play. With hand expression, you can more intimately know your breasts and you begin to feel the difference between an empty breast and a back up on aisle milk duct. Sometimes simply continuing to pump will stimulate the second Let Down or I will pause the pumping, hand express and then go back to pumping, having cleared whatever back up there was.

If you have tried all of this and latch when you can (even if it isn’t for feeding and more to bond, stimulate flow) and you are unable to produce enough milk – give yourself a well-deserved break! As I said, fed is best. There are so many different formula options available for parents these days and thank goodness for that.

What has worked for you in your milk supply endeavors? Leave a comment below and remember to share with any moms traveling the Milky-Way 🙂