How to Increase your Milk Supply with Hands-on Pumping

Simple and easy steps to increase your milk production by almost 50%

What Is Hands-On Pumping?

Hands-on pumping is a breast massage technique that can increase the amount of breast milk you pump during each pumping session. Because hands-on pumping helps you to drain the breast more fully each time you pump, it helps increase your milk supply and helps you provide more of the fatty hindmilk that will help your baby grow.

Hands-on Pumping: Helps mothers who may be struggling with volume produce more milk at each pumping session.

If you have a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care, have had a premature baby or and need to pump, this technique of combining pumping hand expression and breast massage (“Hands-on pumping”) has been shown to increase milk volume by 48 percent.

Instead of relying on​ a breast pump alone, in hands-on pumping moms use their hands to assist in the milk removal while pumping. Breast massage and hand expression combined with pumping will not only help maximize the amount of milk you will pump with each session but will also increase your milk supply overall. 

How to Use Hands-On Pumping

When using hands-on pumping to increase milk supply, you'll massage both breasts before you pump and during your pumping sessions. Use the following pumping routine:

  1. Start with the right equipment. Use a fully electric, hospital grade pump with a double pumping kit. Wear a bra that holds the flanges in place while you pump so that your hands are free to massage the breasts. A great hands-free pumping bra can be found here.
  1. Massage your breasts before pumping:
    • Massage both breasts using small circles in a spiral pattern, similar to a self breast exam. Pay extra attention to the outer margins of the breast.
    • Stroke the breasts from the outer margins in toward the nipples. Use a light touch to help you relax and to help stimulate your let down.
  1. Pump both breasts until the milk starts to subside, usually about 5 to 7 minutes. Adjust the suction to the highest level that is comfortable for you. Make sure it does not hurt! 
  2. Repeat the massage process.
  3. Pump one breast while massaging the same breast. Pay special attention to any areas where you feel lumps; these are full milk ducts. Stroke from the outer margin in toward the pump, using medium pressure to empty the ducts. Continue until your milk production subsides again, usually about 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Pump the other breast while massaging as above.
  5. Hand express into the pump flanges. This last milk is the richest hindmilk you produce.

Here is a link to a video presentation highlighting the techniques used for Hands-on pumping.

http://newborns.stanford.edu/Breastfeeding/MaxProduction.html

Other Ways to help increase and maximize your milk production while your baby is in the NICU:

  •  If you are separated from your baby, it’s important to begin expressing your milk within the first six hours after giving birth to your baby. 
  • It’s important to continue to pump regularly. 8 times in 24 hours in ideal to maintain your milk supply. Remember it’s supply and demand. 
  • Continue to pump after your milk has stopped flowing (approximately five minutes or so) this will help to increase your supply by “tricking” your body into thinking your baby is still nursing, helping to produce more milk to keep up with the demand. 
  • Listen to music. Music has been shown to increase the amount of milk expressed in the NICU. 
  • Spend as much time as you can close to your baby. Holding your baby skin-to-skin will not only help you and your baby bond but will help your body to produce prolactin and oxytocin, which help to increase your milk supply.

Edited by: Jodi Dolezel RN

Sources:

Lactation Education Resources. "Hands on Pumping." Accessed January 10, 2011 from http://www.leron-line.com/updates/Hands_onPumping.pdf

Mohrbacher, N and Stock, J. The Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Revised Edition. January, 2003; La Leche League International, Schaumburg, IL.

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