Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Get Let Down While Pumping


I took Milk Thistle and actually found that for me that worked slightly better than Blessed Thistle. It took about a week to increase my supply this way.


Garlic and Oatmeal helped me the most. Wheat grass juice and spirulina helped (but I hated the taste) so I took “greens” pills instead and they seemed to help a bit. Brewer’s Yeast helped, but again I hated the taste. Icky! Here’s a pretty good list of herbs and foods that help:


Try wearing a heated rice sock or corn bag in your bra for 5 minutes before nursing. Make sure it’s not burning, but it should be very warm. Warm and comfortable. While wearing this I would imagine that tickly prickly letdown feeling, visualize it and do deep breathing. You can also use warm washcloths or take a warm shower or bath. Drinking a warm non-caffeinated liquid such as hot tea also helps.


I would start out with a light massage to the area above my breasts (where they were not covered with the hot compresses), almost a tickling massage, and then work my way down to my nipples. I’d twiddle my nipples (much in the same way that I HATE HATE HATE when my son does it.. *grrrrr*) and massage the breast. I found that sort of an “And” movement from ASL worked really well toward the end of the “preparing” massage. With the nipple touching the crease under your thumb/index finger. (Here’s how to do the “And” sign: )

While pumping, massage the area of the breast not covered with the flange. Put pressure on it. Try breast compressions. Here’s a good tutorial on how to do breast compressions:


Deep breathing helped keep me relaxed. When you’re not relaxed it’s much harder to get letdown. I was told to visualize my baby, this never really worked for me quite in the way that I was told. Instead, I had to visualize him at his most vulnurable moment. I’d also try to remember that tickly prickly letdown sensation and feel it in my breasts. Often even if I wasn’t successful in feeling it, simply remembering it vividly would cause milk to spurt.


I found that when I stared at the ounce markers, I’d slowly go nuts and feel impotent and crappy about myself. Instead I just let go and said that I would do everything I could to increase my supply, that I would pump for this amount of time each day and at certain times of the day when my milk supply was likely to be higher, and that if the milk was still spurting I’d extend it a bit more, and that whatever I got, I got. Letting go of the ounce marker helped me to relax a bit more.


If you pump in the early morning first thing, or if you wake up at say.. four in the morning for a single pumping session, you’re going to get more out of your breasts than if you pump during lower supply times such as mid-afternoon or evening. It can be difficult, but sometimes necessary to increase your supply. For me, I said “This is temporary” and I did it for two weeks, and my supply came up. You can make it easier on yourself if you keep a cooler by your bedside and just put all the flanges and bottles into the cooler to deal with in the morning. Breast milk can stand 10 hours at room temperature, so if it’s in a cooler that keeps it at less-than-room temp, you’re fine for quite a bit of time.

Try varying the pumping times a bit to see when your “high output” times are.

Try varying the length of time that you pump. 15 minutes, 20 minutes, then 10 minutes, 5 minute break, 10 minutes and see if one pattern gets you more milk than the other.


Try to stimulate your breasts across the day even when you’re not pumping. This can increase supply. Try going without a bra or with a loose bra for an hour before pumping (if you can do so comfortably), If you do wear a bra across the day, wear one that is not padded, as it will allow more stimulation to reach your breasts. Roll your nipples between your fingers 6-8 times across the day. If possible, see if your child will latch on even for a moment or two if you dribble pumped milk on your nipple, or if you put a bit of sweetened water on your nipple. Even if the baby gums your nipple for 5 seconds and won’t latch, it is stimulation. You can also use an eyedropper to shootmilk into baby’s mouth to try to get them to latch more willingly. Don’t focus on breastfeeding, just focus on “baby in contact with breast”. If baby won’t even gum the nipple, just do skin to skin time. Relax, breathe deeply.


Consider using a SNS or Lactaid (Lactaids are better, and are made by Medela). You can try attaching it to your finger at first, and then possibly moving to your nipple if your baby takes to it well. Even if your baby is suckling at your finger, it will stimulate milk supply more than if she’s suckling at a bottle.


If you usually pump 5 times a day, try pumping 8 times a day. 3? Try 5. But do the extra pumping sessions with absolutely no goal of getting milk. Keep them to 5 minutes unless you see milk spurting. Only do the extra sessions for a few days if you’re worried that pumping too much will cause you to lose your mind. Remember they’re a temporary measure to increase demand. You’re stimulating a growth spurt. It can help if you use a manual pump for these extra pumping sessions, as it’s less complicated than hooking up all the electronic stuff.

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