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How to Increase Your Breast Milk

Expressing, Breast Pumps and Storage

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a mom breastfeeding her baby

Learn how to increase your breast milk - if you're planning on breastfeeding, you may need to use breast pumps. They can increase breast milk supply or allow someone else to feed your baby. If you're planning on using breast pumps to increase your milk supply or to have milk for your baby when you're not around, you need to know how to use them!

Don't forget as well that your diet can assist in increasing your lactation and breast milk levels.

Breast pumps can be used to relieve pressure if you have full breasts, or they can be used to express full bottles if you're going to be away from your baby. Before you begin, make sure that your hands are clean and that your breastmilk storage containers and equipment are clean and sterilized.

Getting Ready To Express Milk

When you're ready to express breastmilk, follow these steps. They can be used with both manual or electric breast pumps or hand expression.

  • Gather a drink, your equipment, and some tissues.

  • Put warm water in a bowl, or dip a cloth in warm water.

  • Get into a comfortable sitting position and dip your breasts in the bowl or place the cloth directly on your breasts.

  • Massage your breasts with your hands. Move all the way around your breast with a closed fist or your fingertips. Don't forget the area underneath your nipple.

  • Roll your nipple between your finger and thumb but take care not to squeeze it.

Using Breast Pumps

Breast pumps move the milk through your nipple and into a special storage container. You can use bottles or special bags that are designed to store breast milk. These bags are made out of special materials so that they can be frozen without harming the milk, so don't use a regular zippered bag.

Manual breast pumps are quiet, cheap, and easily portable, but they can be difficult to work. If you have friends who have also successfully used a manual pump, ask which one they preferred.

Electric breast pumps can be powered by batteries or an electrical plug. They can be quite noisy and some can cost hundreds of dollars. Some insurance policies may cover the cost of an electric pump so talk to your insurance provider if you're interested in buying one.

Manually Expressing Milk

If you're not planning on using breast pumps to increase your milk supply and only need to express milk to relieve some pressure, you can manually express milk.

Start by putting your thumb on top of your breast and your first two fingers just below the milk reservoirs under the areola. Your hand will be in a C-shape and your other hand should be holding your milk container.

Move your hands so that your breast is being gently pressed backwards. At the same time, move your thumb and first finger towards your nipple. This will help release milk from the breast and into the container.

Don't forget to move your hands around so that all the milk reservoirs are emptied. They will quickly fill back up so you may need to do this quite a few times.

When the milk stops flowing, it's time to switch to the other breast.

How to Increase Breastmilk Supply

If you want to increase breast milk supply there are a few things you can do. These include:

  • Making sure you're eating well and drinking enough water.

  • Feeding or expressing more often.

  • Resting whenever possible and staying close to your baby.

  • Make sure your baby is positioned correctly. If you have questions about positioning, talk to your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant.

What to Do with Your Milk Supply

Breast milk can be used within 24 hours if it's kept in the refrigerator. Store it away from the door because the constantly opening and closing can change the temperature.

Your milk supply can also be kept in the freezer for up to three months. If you have a chest freezer or a deep freeze, your milk supply will stay good for up to six months. However, if your baby is premature, it should be used within three months.

Each container should be clearly labeled with the date it was expressed. The milk may separate and you may notice a layer of fat at the top of the container. If this happens, simply give it a good shake to redistribute fat.

It's possible to quickly thaw milk in warm or hot water, however, never microwave it. If milk has been thawed, use it within 24 hours and never re-freeze breastmilk once it's been thawed.

Need help understanding your baby's latch? This video can help.

 
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