Believe it or not, you are not alone. So many women have a bountiful supply, yet find it increasingly difficult to express. Some start off expressing quite easily, but as time goes on, they express less and less. Others, find they can’t express at all. Although this causes mum a huge amount of stress, there are a few handy tips to consider when either of these scenarios come into play.

First of all, is your pump right for you? One mum may respond to a particular pump, and the next can’t even squeeze out a drop. Your pump is an extremely important choice. A pump that has an adjustable setting that is comfortable for you, that includes a letdown stimulator, is going to get you off to a great start.

A pump that doesn’t distract you too much with a loud noise, will also be of benefit.

A double pump, can be a god send! Sometimes achieving a let down from one breast, and then fighting against yourself to achieve a let down from the other can really up those stress levels. A pump such as this – Spectra S1 Hospital Grade Double pump can mean the difference between being able to pump or having difficulties.

Another great tip is to create a pumping schedule.

Believe it or not, your body, just like Pavlov’s dog, tends to respond better when it knows what it’s supposed to do at a certain time. Include in that schedule, the things that are going to help you to pump effectively. Having a quiet, darkened room, a bottle of water and a picture of your baby. Will all help to achieve effective pumping. Breast compressions, whilst pumping will also, help relieve the breast of a significant amount more of your milk (compressing the breast, without breaking the suction of the pump) may sound silly, “why would a darkened room, and a photo of my baby help me express?” A darkened room, brings down your stress levels, and helps you to relax. It’s next to impossible to pump, when you are stressed. As for a picture of your baby, have you ever been at the supermarket, or a friend’s house, when you hear a baby cry? Did a let down follow that? A baby you have never seen before triggered your let down reflex. How? Your brain is wired to respond to a baby’s cry, by providing sustenance. Having a photo of your baby, will help that same reflex action. Focus on the picture of your bub, close your eyes and imagine him at your breast. Oxytocin, the feel good hormone, is responsible for your letdown. What better way to create that rush of oxytocin than thinking of your sweet babe?

If you have been successful in the past expressing, but all of a sudden, your output has drastically reduced. There’s also another few tips, that can help with that.

First of all, it’s normal for a mother who has her baby at the breast all the time to have dips in supply. Be it that baby is older and not feeding as often or her cycle returning. It’s then reasonable to assume that an exclusive pumper, or a mum pumping to send her liquid gold off to day care, will often encounter the same problems. Lactogenic herbs, and foods, are a great way to build up a dip in supply (steel-cut oats, mothers milk tea, goats rue, spinach, carrots, hummus, even a good ole beer – the yeast in the beer).

With herbs, it is recommended for the use to be no longer than a week, though Lactogenic foods you can include in your diet for any amount of time. Whilst taking the herbs/food, it is important to increase your pumping schedule. Ultimately, you will want to add at least two – five extra sessions during this period. Don’t be discouraged that you are pumping less with these extra sessions. As your body responds to the herbs/foods, and extra stimulation from the pump, your output will increase with these measures. Expect that your output will increase with each session. If your baby will go to the breast, offer your breast often and a lot. This is another way your body will respond my making more milk. Hydration, and eating regular healthy meals. Are also key to ensuring and upping your supply. Although, this may seem common sense.

We as mothers quite often forget, or are too busy to sit down to a nutritious meal or remember to eat and drink. When our main focus is on our baby. It is logical to assume that your body will work more effectively when it has the right fuel to achieve that. Trickle effect; your body is working more effectively, your milk production will follow suit.

Have you used lactogenic foods to up your supply? Is this information helpful? Please share in the comments below.

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  • yes and watch tv or something interesting as you will be sitting for awhile. have a drink nearby. Fantastic info by the way


  • my mom and most moms in our place ask us to massage with coconut oil and include coconut milk in our diet … coming from kerala its no big deal… coconut is in everything.. but it worked for me and lots of green gram too…


  • I used special breast shaped heat gel packs before expressing to help the milk flow, and the same gel packs chilled afterwards. (to help prevent blockages/mastitis). I can’t remember the brand, but you can probably find them by doing a google search on breast gel packs.
    Hospital grade pumps really help as well – you can get great help from the Australian Breastfeeding Association helpline on pumping issues, and a discount on pump hire if you become a member.


  • I never had much issue with pumping, but I had a friend who just can’t for the life of her, despite being able to breastfeed, getting a let down etc, whether by hand or by pump she just cant. For so long she felt like a failure over it, so I love being able to share this, and let her know she is not alone


  • I’m experiencing this at the moment. That type of information is very handy and something that i didn’t think about. Thank you for posting.


  • I have used blessed milk thistle. It worked quite well but my little one had awful reflux and just vomitted all the time so it was incredibly hard to keep up and keep weight on my body to produce enough.


  • I always forget to drink enough wAter and I wonder why my supply is dwindling. May be time for some fenugreek


  • I swear by lactogenic foods. I always have a batch of lactation cookies on hand.


  • I found expressing to be really tiresome and I could never get as much out as I had. I found it easier to breastfeed and never had my kids looked after so didn’t need to pump, though I tried with my first.


  • I found it easy to pump with one baby, and hard with another.


  • I think this information would be very helpful to mum currently trying to pump


  • My daughter in law had this problem. She wasn’t sure if it was her or her pump. Her milk supply ended up drying up and bub is completely formula fed at 5 weeks


  • A friend of mine expressed more milk with her 2nd baby than she did her first as she returned to work a lot sooner. Her supply dropped a lot sooner with her 2nd baby than the first. Some days she was able to feed her baby during one break and then express some. It has a use by date even when frozen.


  • I found it was harder to express if I didn’t drink enough liquid through the day – and running around with a couple of children plus the newborn, when did you stop to drink?
    I had to make sure I was in a routine with two cups of tea around brekkie time, more liquid + morning tea, more liquid and a good lunch, liquid + afternoon tea, liquid + dinner, and at least a couple of drinks before going to bed. And this was hard to keep up, but it made expressing easier.


  • I’ve heard you need at least 1 litre of water & 1 litre of milk per day to help produce breast milk. I don’t know if there’s any truth in this old wives tale


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