Friday, February 11, 2011

Supply Tip: Double Pumping

Disclaimer regarding supply: True low milk supply is rare. Perceived low milk supply, however, is one of the leading reasons women cite for giving up breastfeeding.

Genuine low milk supply is often the result of a medical condition: hypoplastic tubular breasts, sometimes in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, sometimes in women who have had breast surgery, and sometimes in women with tyroid disorders. If you don't fall into one of these categories, it is worth considering whether your milk supply issues might be either perceived, or real but fixable!

In this series on milk supply, I'm going to offer tips for moms whose supply issues are in the "real but fixable" category.


"Double Pumping" is a term used to describe pumping both breasts at the same time. Since the let-down reflex occurs simultaneously in both breasts, pumping both at once can result in higher milk yields. It can also save time.

"Double Pumping" is ALSO a term used to describe pumping until let down, waiting 10-15 minutes, then pumping again. Lets call this "Double Pumping, the latter".

It is typical for a mom's milk to let down only once per pumping session. It is also typical for a mom's milk to let down several times during one nursing session. This divide can account for some of the difference between a mom's pump volumes and the amount her baby is likely to have taken at breast.

In order to effectively "Double Pump, the latter", pump until the flow of milk stops. Remove the pump shields and massage the breasts briefly (the MSS Technique, described here as item #3, is a great output maximizer). Pump again until the flow of milk stops. Then prop your pump parts up safely and step away for 10-15 minutes. Come back, and pump just until let down.

This technique can maximize pump yields in two ways: a) it creates the illusion of increased demand for milk, causing your supply to increase and b) you will net extra pumped milk in the second, brief pumping sessions.

It can be a lot of up and down throughout the day, especially for moms unable to pump at their own desks or workspaces, but the results tend to be well worth the effort for moms who are having trouble reaching their pumping goals!
The Chubathon

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