As a new mother, you are likely to be concerned about whether you are producing enough breast milk to meet your baby's needs. This is a completely natural concern for most mums. In our previous blog post we discussed how breast milk supply is regulated and how to know whether your baby is getting enough breast milk.
In very simple terms, breast milk supply is regulated through supply and demand. The more often your baby feeds, or the more often you express, the more you will produce. Most women will use a breast pump at some stage throughout their breast feeding journey. In today's post we will discuss a few simple ways to increase breast milk supply using a silicone breast pump.
What is a silicone breast pump?
A silicone breast pump is a very simple manual breast pump that creates a vacuum seal and gentle suction to draw out milk. The beauty of it is based in it's simplicity and ease of use. It has no loose parts or cords, is easy to clean, portable, made with food grade silicone, is BPA, PVC and phthalate free. The suction base and milk stopper prevent spills and makes it easy to store breast milk in the fridge for a few hours. The breast pump flange comes in one size and the soft silicone will shape around breasts of most sizes and shapes. The capacity of the base varies in volume, our pump can hold up to 120 mls of breast milk.
How do I use a silicone breast pump?
A silicone breast pump is very easy to use. Compress the base of the pump and place over your breast with the nipple in the centre of the tunnel and release to create suction - that is how easy it is! If this does not create a good seal, then try and reposition it or fold back the flange before repositioning and this should do the trick. (It goes without saying, that the pump should be sterilised before use.)
The best time to use the pump is while feeding your baby on the other breast, i.e. tandem expressing. The milk will start flowing once the let-down reflex is triggered. Reposition as needed once it looses suction.
How do I boost breast milk supply with a silicone breast pump?
Breast milk supply is regulated by supply and demand. The supply will increase with more frequent feeding or pumping, and decrease when feeds are stretched out. If you do not have enough breast milk, then we would recommend tandem expressing, using a silicone breast pump with each feed.
To tandem express, simply attach the silicone pump to the other breast from which your baby starts nursing. This will provide extra stimulation to increase supply and collect precious extra liquid gold from your let down reflex. Once your baby has emptied one breast, or after approximately 15-20 minutes, switch your baby to the opposite side and repeat the procedure. If your baby needs the extra calories, then use the expressed breast milk as a top-up, or alternatively store/ freeze for later use.
If your supply is low, feeding and pumping from both sides will provide extra stimulation and boost breast milk production. You should see results within 2-3 days.
Should I use a silicone breast pump or electric pump to boost milk supply?
Both these pumps have their role in helping women to boost milk supply and most women will use a combination of methods to express. An electric pump is more efficient and will express more milk in a shorter period of time. They are great for women who exclusively express or to express enough milk when returning to work. The downside of electric pumps are that they are more cumbersome to set up, need a power source, are more difficult to clean and also more expensive than manual pumps. The hassle of cleaning and setting up an electric pump means that many women will find it cumbersome if they have to use it frequently and will probably feel quite drained if they have to feed, express and top-up every three hours.
On the other hand, a silicone breast pump is definitely the easiest to use and maintain. The fact that they are small, portable, quiet and easy to clean makes it more likely that women will use them regularly, but they are not as powerful as an electric pump. All sleep deprived new mums will appreciate the minimal effort that it takes to express while feeding and the fact that, it does not add a lot of time to the whole feed-express-top up cycle!
A silicone breast pump is a great alternative or addition to an electric pump for boosting milk supply. The simplicity and ease of use makes silicone breast pumps a very handy product and must have for any new breastfeeding mum. Make sure to pack one in your baby bag, it will come in handy at some stage.
Disclaimers and a few extra thoughts
Please note that the advice given in this blog post is general in nature and should not be taken as medical advice. If you are concerned about your breast milk supply or if your baby is not gaining weight as expected, please consult with your healthcare professional.
Although we encourage women to breastfeed, some women simply do not produce enough milk to meet their baby's demands. Use formula if you need to, no one wants starving or malnourished babies. Also some women choose not the breastfeed. How you feed your baby is your choice, do not let anyone judge you. #fedisbest
Expressing can be very tiring and sometimes women put an extraordinary amount of pressure on themselves to try and produce enough breast milk. Please use your own judgement when deciding how often you need to express. Sleep and your own mental health is likely more important for you and your baby's well being than being attached to a breast pump. If your baby needs extra calories but you dread having to express (yet again), then it might be worth considering the occasional formula top-up. #fedisbest
Where to get breastfeeding help?
Australian Breastfeeding Association has downloadable information booklets and can provide some phone support. 1800 mum 2 mum | 1800 686 268
Most midwives are very knowledgeable and will be able provide help with breastfeeding. Contact your birthing hospital or unit, who should be able to put you in contact with someone locally.
Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ) is the professional organisation for International Board Certified Lactation Consultant's (IBCLCs®), health professionals and members of the public who have an interest in lactation and breastfeeding in Australia and New Zealand. You can find a Lactation Consultant through their website.
Your regular GP or baby's paediatrician can also help with more tailored advice.
The healthcare information provided in this document is general in nature and not designed to replace personalised professional medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice if you are concerned about your health or the health of someone you know.