Many mums experience issues with low milk supply. Because breasts work on the principle of supply and demand, using a breast pump can increase your breast milk supply very effectively. If you have too much milk, there are also effective measures to reduce milk production.

How to increase your milk supply with a breast pump

While frequent pumping stimulates milk production, ‘power pumping’ is intended to boost your progress by replacing one regular pumping session with a strategically designed alternative in which you are repeatedly emptying your breasts. By doing so, you can mimic the frequent feeding of a baby experiencing a growth spurt, which in turn sends a signal to your body to make more milk.

To power pump, pick one hour each day or night – for example, seven o’clock every morning – and use the following pumping pattern:

  1. Pump for 20 minutes, rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Pump for another 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Pump again for 10 minutes.

During the rest of the day, use routine pumping. Some women find that implementing power pumping for three consecutive days or nights is sufficient, while others may power pump for up to seven consecutive days to get results.

How to use a breast pump to reduce milk supply

Here is the strategy for reducing your milk supply: before each feed, pump or hand express just enough milk to slow down the milk flow. Do not pump too much – just enough to get through the first let-down. Use the lowest possible setting if you are using a pump. The more you stimulate your breasts and the more milk you take out, the more your body will produce to meet the perceived demand.

If you have been pumping to store milk for your baby, stop pumping until your milk supply better matches your baby’s current needs. If you still need more milk in reserve but want to reduce your breast milk supply, start by pumping both breasts until they are drained. Then nurse your baby on one breast only for two to four consecutive feeds. Put your baby on the breast as many times as they desire – just use the same breast. You can pump your other breast – but only a little – to relieve pressure. This technique should start to work within 24-48 hours.

Speak to your health professional or a lactation consultant to find the best way to regulate your milk supply. Consider the effectiveness of the style of breast pump used. Electric breast pumps are generally more effective than hand-held pumps, especially when the electric pump is designed to mimic the changes in the length, strength and frequency of suction generated by your baby.