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Am I expressing enough breastmilk?

Posted on by Ardo Medical

Expressing is a technique that is learned, not something that will necessarily come easily to all new mums. As every mum is different, the amount of breastmilk you produce and how much your baby needs will also be different. It is also good to know that your body will respond differently when expressing using an Ardo breastpump, to if you were exclusively breastfeeding.

It is perfectly normal to feel anxious about how much milk you are expressing.  Here at Ardo we have many conversations with mums about the amount they are producing, expressing, and feeding to their baby. However, when it comes to successful expressing, Ardo always suggests the three Ps – Positive Emotions, Perform Massage, Professional Breastpump.

Professional Breastpump – Ardo recommends using a professional breastpump with the availability of different size breast shells for the most successful expressing – this can be a single or a double pump such as the Ardo Calypso or Carum.

A breastpump that is going to be most effective will have adjustable cycles and vacuum, a gentle change between stimulation and expression mode.  Have a closed system, meaning there is a barrier that protects the breast, breastmilk and the pump against contamination.

Milk Volumes – If you express less than 10ml of breastmilk in one session, it could be that you have not experienced the ‘let-down reflex’, which is the process that allows your milk to flow. The release of Oxytocin in your body causes the little muscles around your milk ducts and glands to contract, which then flows the milk from the breast. You can help the let-down reflex by massaging your breasts before a session, applying warm compresses to your breasts, expressing after a shower or bath, and by using visualisation or meditation techniques.

Another possible reason for expressing less breastmilk could be that you are not using the right size breast shell for your body or are perhaps pressing the shell into the breast too hard or too lightly and not making a correct seal.

The volume expressed will also depend on when you are pumping; if you pump soon after a feed, when the breast is emptier but does contain higher fat content milk, you may express less, but you will be sending useful signals to your supply – the small amounts of higher fat content milk can be valuable if you are supplementing your baby.  Try this milk calculator. 

When to express – Breastmilk supply works on a supply and demand basis, and although you shouldn’t need to pump for longer than 10-20 minutes each session, you can stimulate your supply by pumping more frequently.

The first time you pump on a very full breast you may feel like you are expressing a large amount and be tempted to try longer between expressing sessions, however, over time this will send signals to slow milk production and may reduce your supply. You could also be at greater risk of blocked ducts and mastitis.

Find help – if you are concerned about the amount of milk you are expressing, your local breastfeeding supporters or a breastfeeding helpline can give you further information, and please feel free to contact us – we really do talk about all things expressing with ladies with different queries, every day of the week!  Getting more Breastmilk video 

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