Do you wish that you could pump more breast milk without it taking up so much time? Do you want to minimize how long it takes but still get a good supply of expressed milk?
From the domestic goddess and the work-at-home supermom to the busy hustler out dominating the corporate world, there’s one thing that all breastfeeding moms have in common: we don’t want pumping and feeding to consume our lives. You may know that breastfeeding is best for your baby, but you shouldn’t have to choose between nourishing your baby’s life and enjoying your own.
That is why learning how to pump more breast milk in less time is critical. Keep reading to learn about strategies that have worked for other mothers and will likely work for you as well.
The Starting Point: Your Milk Supply
Whether you’re worried that you aren’t producing enough milk to sustain your baby or you think you’re doing pretty well, protecting your supply is the first step to reducing the amount of time spent pumping and feeding. You can’t pump more in less time if your breasts can’t produce enough milk to fill a bottle or build up your stash quickly.
If you know that you have already maximized your supply and your milk is flowing strong, you can skip down to the next section to learn how to minimize your pump time. If you know that your milk supply could use some help, work through the following steps to (hopefully) solve the problem:
1. Consider the effectiveness, comfort and overall quality of your breast pump.
Regardless of what you try to achieve in life, making sure that you have the proper tools is the starting point. Professionals from the Mayo Clinic recommend a double electric breast pump for faster pump sessions. Make sure that it has variable speed settings and feels comfortable on your breasts. If the cups aren’t comfortable on your breasts, you may need to purchase replacements in a larger size. Making sure that your chosen pump sells replacement cups or flanges is a good idea.
2. If you experience anxiety or feel tense when pumping, find ways to relax.
This may sound too simple to really count, but many women get tense or anxious when they feel that they aren’t producing enough milk. That anxiety can cause physical tension that prevents your body from performing at its best, which in turn leads to lower milk output, and the cycle continues. Playing soft music in the background, taking deep breaths or trying to meditate through the pumping may help.
3. Prioritize pumping sessions.
You’re trying not to allow pumping to take over your life, and now you’re told not to skip pumping sessions. It may seem counterproductive, but it’s necessary. Your body determines how much milk to produce by gauging the demand from your baby. If you go long periods without pumping or breastfeeding, the demand drops and your body may slow down milk production. Try to develop a schedule that works with your lifestyle and stick with it.
4. Copy your baby’s natural breastfeeding habits.
Allow your baby to breastfeed whenever he or she wants. How many feedings does he or she demand during the day? That’s the number of pumping sessions that you should work into your daytime schedule. As long as you allow your baby to breastfeeding as often as desired when you’re at home, you should keep your milk supply strong by allowing your pump sessions to mimic the needs of your baby.
5. Learn how to power pump.
Power pumping can be a GREAT way to turbo-charge your efforts! You will need one continuous hour to do nothing but pump to make this work, but it is a proven way for most women to get more out of their breasts. Start by pumping on your pump’s high setting for 20 minutes. Give your breasts about a 10-minute break, and then pump for 10 minutes. Continue rotating every 10 minutes until the hour is up.
While this method requires a dedicated hour of pumping in your schedule, the enhanced milk supply should speed up your pumping sessions. The more milk you have flowing, the easier it is to manipulate your breasts to get that milk out faster. We’ll discuss how you can manipulate your breasts for faster pumping sessions in a moment.
Related Article > How to Power Pump to Increase Milk Supply
6. Talk to a lactation consultant.
If you’re really struggling to produce an adequate amount of milk, schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant. They can help you determine if your baby is latching properly or if there are other issues causing the problem. You will probably pick up some extra tips on keeping your milk supply higher and pumping faster as well.
How to Minimize the Time it Takes to Pump
Once you’ve stimulated a strong milk supply, you’re ready to think about reducing the time that you spend pumping. Your double breast pump is going to come in handy because you save a lot of time simply by pumping both breasts at once.
You might also consider using a hands-free breast pump that allows you to stimulate your breasts with your hands while pumping. A bra with holes around the nipple will also work because this allows the bra to hold the suction cups to your breast while you massage with your hands.
This strategy is referred to as hands on pumping, and it’s intended to increase milk production during an active pumping session. It may help if you think that you’re not producing enough milk, but it’s also helpful in getting the milk to flow out as quickly as possible. Think of it as giving your breasts extra motivation to produce more milk and express it faster.
Hands on pumping simply requires you to apply pressure over your breasts, pushing the milk out faster. You can massage all around the nipple shield, gently squeezing and kneading the breast. When the pump is no longer producing milk, you can hand express to completely empty the breast. The milk collected through hand expression at the end is the thicker milk that will keep your baby full for a longer period of time when consumed, and completely emptying the breast sends the signal that more milk is needed to keep your baby satisfied.
You may also adjust the speed settings on your pump to mimic the suckling action of a baby. Put it on high to stimulate a letdown of milk, and then reduce the speed until the milk production starts to slow, which is your signal to flip it back to high in order to demand more milk. Many women assume that they have to keep the speed on high the entire time to speed up the process, but mimicking the eating patterns of a real baby is more effective for some mothers.
Related Article > How to Increase Your Milk Supply Quickly
Can You Gradually Eliminate Pump Sessions?
If you think pumping less often is the real time-saving solution, you should move slowly in that direction. Once your baby is a few months old, he or she will naturally start spacing out breastfeeding sessions. Many women find that their breast supply stays strong and they can continue building their freezer stash or supplying adequate milk for their babies as long as they maintain the same number of pumping hours each day.
This means that you will cut out one pump session while adding the time to other pump sessions. You’ll spend more time pumping when it’s time, but that is in exchange for having more free time to do other things during the day. It’s important to pay close attention to your milk output when doing this because you may need to add the pumping session back if your supply starts to drop.
Eventually, all babies will depend less on breast milk and more on solid foods. You can safely cut back on pumping sessions as this happens because your baby will no longer need that strong, continuous flow of breast milk. You may also reach a point where you need to rely more on your freezer stash so that it all gets used in a reasonable amount of time. The more you cut back on pump sessions, the more time you will have to enjoy your daily life.
Many women have success with fewer pumping sessions during the day, but you won’t know how your body responds until you give it a try.
What to Do If You Pump More Breast Milk in Less Time Now
If nonstop pumping is interfering with your job or other aspects of your life, you may feel pressured to increase production and improve your pumping process immediately, but keep in mind that your body may not understand the urgency. While the strategies discussed here are easy for some women to implement and get results from quickly, others may spend some time just trying to stimulate a milk supply strong enough to sustain shorter pumping periods.
Take note of where you are right now, and then select a strategy that you believe will work for you. Implement it with consistency starting today. You never know how your body will respond until you give it a chance. You can nourish your baby and reach your personal and professional goals. It just might take doing things in a new way.