Raquel's twins are in the NICU and her ability to produce milk is second to none. She shares her tips for successfully increasing her milk supply.

Increase Your Breastmilk Supply: A MoM’s Tips

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Categories Breastfeeding, How Do The Moms Do It, Twinfant Tuesday

Having Twins Isn’t a One Way Ticket to Formula

People are sometimes surprised to realize that it’s even possible for a woman to produce enough milk to breastfeed twins. They just assume that every MoM has to supplement their newborns’ diets with formula.

Twins and more can be exclusively breastfed. I’m living proof.

My babies are 24 days old and were born at 31 weeks, 6 days. I’m currently up to pumping 16 oz each time I pump and sometimes even get 24 oz in one pump session from both breasts. As early as 4 hrs after delivery I hand expressed drops into the little bottles given to me at the hospital and continued to hand express before each pump session. Hand expressing is more stimulating than a pump so I feel these two combinations alone have gotten me to this abundant supply!

I didn’t know we had so much frozen until I pulled it out of the freezer.

Raquel's twins are in the NICU and her ability to produce milk is second to none. She shares her tips for successfully increasing her milk supply.
This is my supply at about 15 days. Of course, it doesn’t include what my babies have been consuming fresh.

NICU staff is in shock at my supply. One nurse said, “It’s like a dairy farm over here.” I will probably donate anything I produce that can’t fit in my freezer. Clearly, I’m in the minority in my ability to produce. It’s a combination of good fortune, hard work, and informed technique. I’m here to share my techniques with you. Maybe you won’t end up filling a cart with your excess supply, but maybe my tips can help you get a few more ounces.

Get Informed

I encourage you to educate yourself about how much milk your babies actually need. “Low Milk Supply 101” by Emma Picket IBCLC is one of the best articles I’ve read about breastfeeding.

It hasn’t been all easy for me, and it may not be for you. I was getting clogged up on the left side and had to massage the engorged breast in order to prevent mastitis. It hurt but we got through it!

My Tips

To all the mommas wanting to breastfeed or pump to be able to provide for their babies, I just want to say: Pump. Hand express. Empty, empty, empty those breasts!

Breastmilk supply tips from a mom who is making more than enough milk for TWINS!

Brush

A coworker’s sister in Denver was encouraged by hospital staff to “brush” her breasts to stimulate milk production. Yes. Grab a comb or brush and brush your breasts as if you’re brushing your hair. I remembered this advice, also a Salvadoran folk remedy, and had my significant other brush lightly as I hand expressed. We did that during the first 4 pump/hand express sessions.

Maximize Skin-to-Skin Contact

Kangaroo care is the gold standard for preemies. Skin-to-skin contact isn’t just good for babies, though. The biological response to your baby’s skin against your own can trigger can be increased milk production. Whether your baby is sick or healthy, premature or full-term, spend some time holding him or her directly against your body, inside your clothes if necessary. After I hold my babies for a couple of hours, I start leaking!

Hand Express

The nurse who originally brought me my hospital grade pump told me that studies have shown that a combination of  hand expression and pumping helps you produce more milk. Just massage your breast to squeeze the milk out of your nipple. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the lactation consultant at your hospital to show you how to do it! I hand express before and after every pumping session.

Get the Right Pump

The Medela Symphony, a hospital grade pump provided by the hospital, has contributed to my incredible supply. I used the insurance provided pump with my other two children and I never expressed this much milk. Between both breasts I think the most I would get after a feeding was about 4 oz from each side and when they were first born.

The hospital told me I could use this pump until babies came home. I am seriously looking to buying one now even if it’s been used. It’s worth the investment.

Don’t Pump for Too Long

I initially let the pump go on its own until it stopped. I started having issues with my swollen left nipple a day or two later. The lactation consultant told me I was pumping for too long. The pump ran for 30 minutes, not the recommended 10-15 minutes.

I was told my milk would level off after about week two. I was exhausted and  unable to wake very often during the night to pump. I slept for about 5 hours straight, then pumped and started getting the 8 oz from each breast.

Keep At It

The first week, I pumped every 2-3 hours around the clock. The second week, I reduced that to about every 3 to 4 hours. The third week is just about same as week two. I’m currently waiting about 4 hrs in between. I’m not getting as engorged as I was in the begining but I really think I was having trouble emptying my breasts enough to catch a break

Empty Your Breasts

If you are still somewhat solid in the breasts after you’ve pumped and think you’ve “emptied”, you could very well have a good amount in there. Since it’s not coming out like it should, your breasts won’t think they have to make more. Once empty, breasts should keep working at production.

I got less out of my left breast when I was pumping for the whole 30 minutes. It still felt hard. I knew that was off and that there might be milk there but just not able to get it out. I had to massage the painful breast. It was excruciating!

I’m not going to lie. There have been moments I wanted to just stop it all. To top it off, my left nipple (which still hurts) swelled up to the size of a smoked sausage while I pumped. It refused to go back down to its normal size! The lactation consultant told me it might be the size of the pumping shield/flange, but I’ve tried different sizes and have better luck with the smaller one. It just seems to expand with the little tunnel and burns towards the end of pumping.

Eat and Drink on Behalf of Your Babies

I drink water like no other. I drink 1-2 gallons of water a day. That’s no exaggeration! I haven’t had to push myself because I find myself more thirsty this time around compared to with my older singletons.

I never skip out on meals and I snack in between. I pack almonds and cheese and ham sandwiches, or peanut butter and PB&J for my daily NICU visits. Did you know that you actually need more calories while breastfeeding than you do during pregnancy? Your babies have to work a lot harder outside your womb than inside.

I had noticed that skipping meals with my firstborn drastically reduced my supply. Stay hydrated and do not run on an empty stomach. I still take my prenatal vitamins and the NICU doctor overseeing the babies told me to take 3 fish oil pills a day and one vitamin D tablet too.

Be Kind to Yourself

I was able to give birth naturally, without an epidural. Your personal medical situation and many other things you cannot control will impact your ability to produce milk. Childbirth is a traumatic experience for your body. A C-section is major surgery. If you can make breastfeeding work, that’s great. If you can’t, that doesn’t make you any less of a mother.

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11 thoughts on “Increase Your Breastmilk Supply: A MoM’s Tips”

  1. This is fabulous advice! Thank you for being willing to donate your extra milk. My girls were born early at 35 weeks, and due to bleeding complications, I could not start nursing right away, but desperately wanted to. Thankfully, donor milk was brought in from the Denver bank for my girls. This allowed me time to recover and still maintain my goal of no formula. It is giving mamas like you that make such a difference for mamas like me.

  2. This is a great post! Breastfeeding is no joke. I’m still nursing my 3rd daughter (11 mo). I had never heard of the brush technique! I’ll have to remember that for my friends who are going to be new mommas soon. And that frozen milk–no words. Just lots of high-fives! 😀
    casey recently posted More Momfessions.My Profile

    1. Hello,

      Hope you are well. I am doing a clean on my blog and I found that I have a broken link on your page here.

      Please can you delete my broken link “The Importance of Fine Motor Skills.” post off your page for me.

      Thank you very much. It is very much appreciated.

      Su xx

  3. My word! ‘Speechless’ is not an understatement … look at your milk stash at 15 days! Wowser!

    Well done woman. HARD WORK, DETERMINATION & PERSEVERANCE is so key, isn’t it, with pumping. What a treat for your twins, I’m so pleased for you.

    I haven’t heard about the brushing technique before, I’ll keep that in mind for next time.

    These are really fabulous tips and one that many mums will find helpful.

    “Your personal medical situation and many other things YOU CANNOT CONTROL will impact your ability to produce milk. Childbirth is a traumatic experience for your body. A C-section is major surgery. If you can make breastfeeding work, that’s great. If you can’t, that doesn’t make you any less of a mother.” – What a fabulous summary.

    When it comes to infant feeding and indeed all of motherhood, we must be kind to ourselves. There isn’t much more we can do when we’ve done our best and our best will vary and look different from mother to mother and from situation to situation!

    Thanks so much Sadia, for sharing Raquel’s post on #BreastfeedingandI – feel free to link it again on Friday (#7) for more reads, inaddition to any other one you might want to link :-)
    Adventures of a Novice Mum recently posted Support Kids Company’s Colour A Child’s Life ProjectMy Profile

  4. Such a an interesting and useful post. Amazing work keeping at it as you did.
    Also that picture is wonderful…that is an incredible amount of milk! And it’s great that you felt able and were able to donate it. It’s quite a tricky thing to do here, in my area anyway but can make such a difference to people.
    Another tip I’ve heard (linked to the skin to skin) to get the most out of a pumping session is to do it with something of the baby or babies near you…if you can’t do it with them in front of you that is…like a photo or a piece of clothing. It can really help some women get more from their breasts than they would otherwise.
    #breastfeedingandi
    Lucy at occupation: (m)other recently posted Gender, Sport & ToddlersMy Profile

  5. Thanks for the info! I’m a FTM with a 2 month old. I pump at least 30 min every 3-4 hrs (I only pump once overnight though) and am getting just enough to last him day to day. Would you recommend pumping (more often?) for only 15-20 min or pumping until I’m empty?
    Thanks!

    1. I am also interested in a response to Courtney’s comment…after I had my first I was pumping for 30 minutes, it seemed like it took a long time to get empty, but I didn’t get as much as I’d hoped each time. Now pregnant with my second and I know pumping until empty will tell your body to produce more milk, but I’ve also read that people suggest pumping for a shorter amount of time than I did last time around…What if I’m not empty after 15 minutes? Do I stop anyway and just pump more often? Will turning up the pump suction help? I’m hoping to build a better supply this time, but I’m a little frustrated already thinking about last time and how it took forever for milk to stop flowing but it didn’t seem to boost supply to pump for as long as it took to get empty.

  6. I can’t say I ever had a super-great supply, but there were some things that helped me increase what I pumped. If I had the option to take a hot shower before pumping, I really saw a difference. The heat helps your let-down. Also, pumping while massaging helped immensely.

    And my LC told me to pump at least 15 minutes…or until I wasn’t getting any more milk. I’d generally pump another 3 or so minutes beyond the last drips to try to encourage more production.

    And drinks lots of water!

    Good luck!!!
    MandyE recently posted Painted Lady? No, Never Mind…My Profile

  7. Hi Courtney and Royale!
    I have a decent amount of experience pumping as I did it for all four of my children.
    DD1 – Pumped while at work and nursed while together
    DS1 – Pumped exclusively due to his cleft palate
    DD 2+3 (twins) – Pumped and nursed

    That being said, the lesson I learned with my son was that I needed to rent a hospital grade pump to bring in my milk supply. Typically if you nurse, your baby(ies) will bring in your milk fully for you, but if you pump exclusively for whatever reason, you will need a better pump than the one you buy at the store. Additionally, even if you have a great nurser, sometimes a hospital grade pump can give you the boost the two of you seem to be looking for. Even though my twins were able to nurse, I still rented the hospital grade pump for the first 3 months to really ensure that I was producing enough.

    You can rent a pump through your local hospital for around $50-75/month. My local hospital offered the lower cost if I rented it in 3 month terms. This may seem like a lot, but remember that the cost of formula is far more per month and the health benefits of nursing even one more day is SO beneficial (even from a financial standpoint due to the potential for lower healthcare costs).

    Also…and I cannot stress this enough…drink enough water and get enough sleep! I know this is hard…trust me, but water intake, sleep levels and stress levels are directly related to milk production. With my singletons, I drank 8oz of water as soon as I woke up in the morning, with every meal, and with every nursing/pumping session. With my twins, I drank over a gallon of water a day. If you are away from your babies when pumping, bring a picture of them to look at as looking at, hearing and thinking about your baby help release the hormones necessary for milk letdown.

    Most importantly…give yourself grace. You are doing a wonderful job. Every drop of breastmilk is precious and helps your child. Avoid beating yourself up about how you think you might be lacking as it doesn’t help your milk production and it flat out isn’t true. You are incredible. What you are doing for your baby(ies) is incredible.

    ~Sara C.
    Sara C. recently posted Seven Reasons You Might Be CountryMy Profile

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