Breast-feeding is based on supply and demand. The more you breast-feed your baby — or pump while you're away from your baby — the more milk your breasts will produce. Consider seven tips for pumping success.
Stress can hinder your body's natural ability to release breast milk. Find a quiet place to pump. It might help to massage your breasts or use warm compresses. You might want to think about your baby, look at a picture of your baby or listen to relaxing music.
2. Pump often
The more you pump, the more milk you'll produce — especially if you're using a high-quality pump. If you're working full time, try to pump for 15 minutes every few hours during the workday. If you can, pump both breasts simultaneously. A double breast pump helps stimulate milk production while reducing pumping time by half.
3. When you're with your baby, breast-feed on demand
The more you breast-feed your baby when you're together, the greater your supply will be when you pump. Depending on your schedule, try more-frequent evening, early morning or weekend feedings. If you have a predictable schedule, you might ask your baby's caregivers to avoid feeding your baby during the last hour of care — so that you can breast-feed your baby as soon as you arrive.
4. Avoid or limit formula feedings
Formula feedings will reduce your baby's demand for breast milk, which will lower your milk production. To maintain your milk supply, it's important to pump anytime your baby has a feeding of formula or expressed breast milk. Remember, the more you breast-feed your baby or pump while you're apart, the more milk you'll produce. You might also pump extra milk — either after or between breast-feeding sessions — and freeze it for future use.
5. Drink plenty of fluids
Water, juice and milk can help you stay hydrated. Limit soda, coffee and other caffeinated drinks, though. Too much caffeine might lead to irritability or interfere with your baby's sleep. If you choose to have an occasional alcoholic drink, avoid breast-feeding for two hours afterward.
6. Don't smoke
Smoking can reduce your milk supply, as well as change the taste of your milk and interfere with your baby's sleep. Secondhand smoke also is a concern. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), as well as childhood asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and middle ear infections (otitis media). If you smoke, ask your doctor for options to help you quit. In the meantime, avoid smoking just before or during a feeding.
7. Take good care of yourself
Eat a healthy diet, including plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Sleep when the baby sleeps — and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Also consider your birth control options. Breast-feeding itself isn't a reliable form of birth control, and birth control pills that contain estrogen can interfere with milk production. While you're breast-feeding, you might want to use condoms or other forms of birth control.
Breast-feeding is a commitment, and your efforts to maintain your milk supply are commendable. If you're having trouble maintaining your milk supply or you're concerned that you're not producing enough milk, ask your doctor or lactation consultant for other suggestions.