Because I couldn’t nurse my baby and I had to exclusively pump, it was harder to establish and increase my breastmilk supply. It was definitely a lot of work in the beginning but it’s all worth it! Now that I’m past the newborn phase, I am still producing a lot of breastmilk —- more than enough to feed my baby and enough to even donate to other mamas in need.
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Here are my 6 best tips to boost breastmilk supply.
6) Warm Compress
Apply a warm compress before pumping. It helps by melting or thinning the fat in your breastmilk so it would flow more easily through the milk ducts. I did this especially in the beginning when I was super new to pumping for about 5-7 minutes.
5) Breast Compression
Do breast compression or massage your breast while pumping. It helps to get your breastmilk flow easily from the milk ducts and out. I would do this while pumping and really targeting the “knots” as I referred to them — it’s those areas that felt fuller than other areas of my breasts.
4) Strict Pumping Schedule
Maintain and follow a strict pumping schedule. Now I can’t emphasize this enough. When you’re exclusively pumping, it’s tougher to tell your body to produce milk than when you’re nursing because baby’s suckling helps produce prolactins and as exclusively pumping mamas we don’t really have that advantage. To compensate, you really need to adhere to a pumping schedule so that the body regulates and gets the signals that at certain times of the day after a certain period of time, the breasts need to have milk so they can be emptied. It’s of course very tough to do in the beginning because your newborn needs you. This is when you ask for help from your partner or anyone else who could lend a hand with taking care of the baby or doing household chores while you allocate a lot of time to pumping (especially in the beginning).
Get some sleep. Now I know this feels impossible to do with a newborn. I too was definitely sleep-deprived on my first few weeks with my baby. But like I said above, ask for help. I asked for help not just from my husband but also from my mom and mother-in-law. They all took turns to look after my baby while I try to squeeze an hour or two of uninterrupted sleep. It’s amazing how much difference sleep can do to your breastmilk supply. After the first couple of weeks, I started to prioritize sleep over my pumping schedule because I saw how much rest helped in increasing the amounts of breastmilk I was able to pump.
2) Avoid stress.
Of course this is again (like #3) easier said than done. It was definitely hard for me to avoid stress (heck I even suffered from baby blues and postpartum anxiety) but there are ways to do so.
When people say “let us know if you need anything,” really take them up on it. Ask for help. If they want to come and visit, ask them to bring food for you and your husband. You’ll be surprised as to how much your friends and acquaintances are understanding of these things.
Also, don’t stress about production output. I found the more I thought I wasn’t producing enough, the less I would actually produce. But when I was more relaxed when pumping (I listened to soothing music or watched videos of my baby on my phone), the better the output was.
This is the single most important tip. It’s a no-brainer but easy to forget. Breastmilk is made of over 85% water. If you don’t have good fluid intake, then your body is missing the main ingredient. I drank ridiculous amounts of water and still am to this day because I’m still exclusively pumping.
I even bought this 4-litre water bottle from Amazon and I refill it 2-3 times per day!
Honestly you can get by with just drinking ridiculous amounts of water but for me I also drink a lot of coconut water and almond milk. I also tried Gatorade in the beginning but I’m not sure if that made much difference.
While my #1 tip is to drink ridiculous amounts of water, I also incorporated these other things in my diet as they are known to boost breastmilk supply: oatmeal, lactation cookies, Moringa supplements, and Earth Mama Organic Milkmaid Tea. My mom was also a huge fan of bone broth so she would whip up various kinds of soup for me. She also made soup with malunggay leaves (main ingredient of moringa supplements).
Because I took all of these at the same time, I’m not sure how much of an impact each one of them had on my breastmilk supply. But then again, one thing I did and still do consistently is drinking ridiculous amounts of water! And so that’s my #1 tip (had to say it in case it wasn’t obvious from the repeated and bold mentions).
I’ve been exclusively pumping for several months now and I’m producing upwards of 35 ounces per day which is way more than what my baby needs so I’m able to build a freezer stash as well.