Health Topics

Maintaining Milk Supply with a Breast Pump

  • The amount of milk your body makes depends on the number of times your breasts are emptied throughout the day. Draining the breast by pumping often, like your baby would be nursing, will build or maintain a good supply of pumped milk.
  • Babies breastfeed about eight to 12 times every day. Nighttime feedings may stretch to every four to six hours as a baby gets older. Pumping should closely follow the same pattern as your baby would be breastfeeding.
  • Use a medical-grade or hospital-grade electric breast pump if your baby is not feeding well at the breast. Ask your lactation consultant if you're not sure you are using the right kind of breast pump.
  • The milk-ejection (or let-down) reflex causes the breast to release milk. Some mothers have a tingling feeling in the breast when their milk lets down. It is important to stimulate this reflex when using a pump. Look at a picture of your baby or have a piece of your baby’s clothing or blanket that has your baby’s scent on it close by, or pump where you can see your baby to help with milk let-down. Using relaxation or deep breathing exercises can also help.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with a variety of foods. Keep a water bottle with you and drink plenty of water. Limit alcohol, caffeine and smoking.
  • Some medications can affect milk supply. Check with your doctor before taking any medications.
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Last Updated: 09/2012