Not Getting Much Milk

A customer wrote  an email with a few questions about her breast pump.

She writes: “I purchased a medela swing from you earlier this week. I am not sure if I am just using it incorrectly – but I am not getting much milk! Only about 10mls and that is on the highest setting for expression. I actually can barely feel it. I am wondering if I am doing something wrong or perhaps should have purchased a stronger model. Do you have any thoughts?”

It does take a while to build up the amount of milk that you get, it takes a few days for supply to increase. It also depends on whether you are doing it after you have already fed baby (in which case on the first day there wont be much milk left over for the pump as baby would have drunk all the milk produced, but on the second day there will be a little bit more as your breasts make more as they think the baby is drinking it). This is the whole supply and demand thing. If you express milk off, after breastfeeding your baby, your breasts will supply more the following day.

It also depends on whether you are doing it in the morning, or the evening. Most people will get more in the morning when they are fresh, energized, and often have fuller breasts if baby has been asleep for longer intervals.

Some mothers will express at a time between feeds. Like if their baby goes to bed at 8pm and feeds again at 2am, mum might do a breast pump “fake feed” every night at 10pm. Then your breasts get used to making that much each night.

Not all mothers will be able to express a lot of milk, regardless of their milk supply and letdown.  Its quite a different experience using a breast pump compared to baby drinking.  I’ve heard feedback from a lot of mothers, and about 50mLs at a time is probably a good result.  You’ve got to save them up in little batches and prepare in advance!!

And remember to drink a glass of water after  you feed baby and express.

But in regards to your question, if you are only getting 10 mls, it sounds like something is not correct. Please can you double check that the Breast Pumpis assembled correctly. The most important thing is the tiny little white membrane. That has to be in the correct place by the neck of the bottle thing, with no milk residue, tears or nicks. Its this tiny part that controls most of the suction.

The other thing, is to check how the breast shield fits around your breast. It should be pulling the nipple in and out of the tunnel part, and have good suction around your boob. If you are not feeling enough suction around your boob, then the breastshield might be too big.