Although your baby might seem to be breastfeeding well, you might have a nagging worry about whether or not they’re getting enough. Unlike giving your baby a bottle, you can’t technically see how much milk they’re taking in. And if you’re also concerned that you’re not making enough breastmilk, you might wonder: Does pumping after baby’s done breastfeeding increase supply?
“Pumping stimulates the breasts and sends a message to the brain that more milk is needed,” Liza Janda, a certified lactation educator counselor, tells Romper in an email. So while the last thing you might want to do after a long breastfeeding session is to break out the pump and start pumping, this method can help to boost your supply. Still, additional pumping that isn’t replacing a feed should really only be done if you’re definitely looking to make more breastmilk. “Only try to boost your supply if there is a deficit,” says Janda. “Otherwise you’ll get an oversupply, possibly, and that can lead to other problems.” For example, you could wind up with engorgement, which is not only painful, but might lead to mastitis, an inflammation of the breast that can lead to fever or flu-like symptoms, La Leche League reported.
But if you plan to pump after a nursing sesh, you’ll need to time it right — and right away. “The emptier the breasts are, the faster they make milk so they should be ready for the next feeding,” Andrea Tran, a certified lactation consultant, tells Romper in an email. To ensure that your baby isn’t losing breastmilk from their next feeding, Trans advises moms to pump right after the end of a breastfeeding session so that "you’re taking the leftovers from the previous session, and not taking milk from the next feeding,” she says. Although you might score more milk if you wait longer, you’ll essentially be taking breastmilk from your baby’s next meal... and that's not a good thing.
Don’t expect to produce a prolific amount of bonus breastmilk the first time you pump after a feed, though. It’s going to take some time for your pumping to produce the results that you’re looking for in terms of extra liquid gold. “The amount of milk women produce is all dependent on supply and demand,” says Janda. “It usually takes 3-5 days to increase milk supply and the same to decrease it.”
Beyond breaking out your pump, there are other ways to prime your body for the best breast milk-producing results. “Moms can use warm compresses before pumping, do breast massages, and take a warm shower,” says Janda. Still, you should try not to get too pumped about pumping, especially if you’re nursing non-stop as well. “Pumping can be crazy-making,” admits Tran. “It takes time and then a mom has to wash everything, so I encourage women to do what they can but don’t overwhelm themselves.” You can always speak with a lactation consultant to ensure that you’re producing enough milk, and see what other issues could be causing milk production problems.
Another option is to talk to your baby’s pediatrician, who can tell you if your breastfed baby is gaining enough weight for their age. They can also give you a schedule of how often you should be pumping to increase your milk supply, and when to start. Janda advises to start adding on pumping sessions at three weeks postpartum after the first feed of the morning, but you might need to start sooner depending on your baby's needs.
In most cases, you can certainly make more breastmilk by pumping post-nursing sessions. But it requires dedication and time, and it’s advisable to proceed with caution, since it could possibly result in an oversupply issue as well. Monitoring how much breastmilk you make (and how much your baby really needs) can give you a good guideline of how often you’ll need to pump it up.
Liza Janda, certified lactation educator counselor
Andrea Tran, certified lactation consultant