One great thing about expressing breast milk is that you can very easily monitor how much milk you are getting.
This means that you will quickly identify if your milk supply is dropping and therefore you can have better control over managing it early.
If you think that pumping isn’t working and your milk won’t flow when pumping, then here are some reasons why (and how to fix it).
Here is How To increase milk supply pumping
1. Poor quality breast pump
This one is the most obvious reason why you may notice your milk supply dwindling or your breast milk isn’t flowing. Not all breast pumps are effective at expressing milk. I suggest before buying a breast pump, check the reviews of customers. Some of the best brands are Lansinoh, Madela and Spectra.
2. Loss of suction from overused and worn out valves that need replacing
If the problem is not with your breast pump, it could be down to the valves. These lose suction after a while and the valves become loose so with any breast pump, you should replace these every so often.
There is no hard and fast rule to how often you should replace breast pump valves as it really depends on the breast pump and how much you use it.
I would recommend just keeping a stock of valves in your home and replacing them when you feel it’s needed (and you should know when it’s time to change the valves as the suction will begin to go).
3. Poor diet and lack of fluid intake
Because your baby is taking a lot of nutrition from you in the breast milk, you should supplement your diet with breastfeeding vitamins and minerals.
Try to also cut down on caffeine and restrict your alcohol as these not only get into your milk (and can affect your baby) but they also can cause dehydration which can reduce your milk supply.
There are certain foods you can eat to boost your milk supply such as oats and whole meal foods.
In addition to the above, drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated as the milk will be taking fluids from your body.
Related Post: Try these lactation brownies to increase milk supply
4. Stress can cause poor milk production
If nursing or breastfeeding mothers are experiencing high levels of stress, this produces hormones that hinder the let-down of milk.
On the other hand, by relaxing and even laughing, it becomes a lot easier for your body to naturally let down milk. If possible, try watching a comedy or something light hearted while expressing. The distraction will also help to take your mind off thoughts about how much milk you are getting.
Related Post: How To Increase Milk Supply If Exclusively Pumping
5. Blocked Ducts reduce milk from flowing when pumping
Blocked milk ducts are actually really common for many women. It could be caused by a number of things such as wearing tight clothing, not emptying the breasts fully at every pumping session or going long periods of the day without pumping milk.
To relieve blocked ducts you can try stimulating your breasts with a massage (see the technique further below) or use an electric massager such as the LaVie Lactation Massager which is said to be more effective than hand massage.
Another great tip for unclogging blocked breast ducts is using a hot compress such as the Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1.
6. If you have only just given birth it can take a few days for milk to come in
Mother’s who have only just given birth only produce colostrum in the beginning and the milk comes later.
Initially after birth, your breasts will only produce a very small amount of colostrum which is very nutritious for babies and helps to develop their immunity. It is normal to only have a tiny amount of colostrum just after birth as you baby only has a very small sized stomach.
You can try stimulating your breasts either with a breast pump or with your hands (see steps below) to start the milk production quicker.
Related Post: Expressing Milk From Birth To 10+ Months
7. A difficult labour
This can slow down the process of milk coming in (but it won’t affect all women). By “difficult labour”, this could include one that is stressful, long and very exhausting or even being given lots of Intravenous (IV) medication in labour can slow down milk production.
This problem usually is short lived and only slows down milk production by a few days. My advice for anyone in this situation is to stimulate your breasts as much as possible (either with a breast pump or manually) to increase breast milk production.
How to stimulate your breasts for milk let-down?
If you want to know how to express more milk then follow these 5 steps:
- Use a hot and wet compress around all areas of your breast.
- Now, use your fingertips to tap the breasts starting from the outside and working towards the middle.
- Apply very gentle pressure to your breast and rotate your fingertips in a circular motion encouraging the milk to move down towards the nipple.
- Hold you breast with your thumb at the top and your fingers cupped around the bottom in a C shape. Alternatively you can cup your breast with both your hands but make sure your hand is behind the areola (which is the ring around the nipple).
- Make a gentle rolling motion around your breast as this will move the milk out of the milk ducts. Move your hands clockwise and anticlockwise around your breast.
Thanks for reading and hopefully these tips are helpful to you if you are not expressing enough milk. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any more tips to help other mums.