Written by Tanya, IBCLC
It's one of the best-kept secrets in the world of breastfeeding: using your hands when you pump can produce up to 50% more milk!
A technique called “hands-on pumping,” researched by Dr. Jane Morton at Stanford University, is a simple and effective way to produce more milk when you pump. Dr. Morton discovered this while investigating ways that moms of preemies could produce more milk – a critical question when it comes to fragile, premature babies who depend on mother's milk for both food and life-saving protection.
Dr. Morton not only found that these moms of preemies pumped significantly more milk, but that their milk was also fattier. The difference in milk production was notable even at eight weeks after birth, when moms who used hands-on pumping were making plenty of milk for their babies.
Hands-on pumping was pioneered for mothers of preemies, but is a great strategy for any mom using a pump.
Here's how it works: The suction of the pump removes much of the milk in your breasts. But after your milk flow using the pump has slowed to a trickle, there is still more milk in your breasts. By using your hands during and after pumping, you can remove that milk. An added benefit: this is the fattiest milk you make at a feeding.
The best way to learn how to do hands-on pumping is to watch Dr. Morton's video. Here are the general steps:
- Begin by massaging both breasts.
- Next, start double pumping, compressing your breasts as much as possible with your hands while you pump. A pumping bra or bustier is very useful for this. You can also cut holes in a sports bra to hold the flanges in place.
- Continue to massage your breasts, concentrating on full areas.
- After your output slows down significantly, stop double pumping.
- Then use hand expression to remove the remaining milk, holding your breast over the pump flange. You can also single pump, using both hands to compress each breast. Either way, feel for areas of remaining fullness and watch the sprays of milk to guide your compression.
CONSIDERING A BREASTFEEDING SUPPLEMENT TO HELP WITH YOUR FREEZER STASH?
At Motherlove, we know that galactagogues aren't always the solution to a low milk supply. If the baby isn't latching well or you just aren't pumping or nursing often enough, a supplement won't fix your supply issue. But there are a lot of circumstances in which a herbal supplement can help. We created this little cheat sheet so you can easily decide which Motherlove product is best for you.