Blog Pumping

How Pumping Can Help Increase Your Milk Supply

Mother with her baby
Mother breastfeeding baby

How Pumping Can Help Increase Your Milk Supply

How To Increase Milk Production with a Breast Pump 

Now that you’ve put in all that hard work of bringing your baby out into the world, your body is gearing up to start nourishing and supporting your child’s growth in a whole new way. Breastfeeding and pumping are important to increase the milk supply that will stimulate your baby’s growth.

Breastfeeding has been scientifically proven as one of nature’s best ways to nourish and protect your growing infant and is recommended by the World Health Organization for at least the first 6 months. Babies who are breastfed for longer periods often have stronger immune systems and are less susceptible to infections. But just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s easy.

What if your breast milk doesn’t come in right away? 

Milk production isn’t the same for everyone. For some, breast milk comes in right away and there is enough (or more than enough) for your baby. For others, building up your milk supply can take time. Especially if your baby was born prematurely, your milk may not come in immediately.  

Don’t panic! It is very possible to stimulate your milk supply and get things going while keeping your baby fed. While there are numerous ways to naturally help increase your milk supply, one of the best ways to quickly increase milk production is to use a breast pump. 

How does a breast pump increase milk supply? 

A good breast pump will mimic the natural suckling rhythm of your baby, naturally stimulating your body to produce milk. Regular and consistent pumping is one of the most natural and effective ways to stimulate milk production and increase your milk supply. When your breasts are full of milk, it’s a cue to your body that it has made enough milk. If you regularly empty your breasts of milk through feeding or pumping, your body will begin to produce more milk to keep up with demand.

5 Tips To Increase Your Milk Supply with a Breast Pump: 

1. Cluster Pump and Feed:

Combining cluster pumping (also known as power pumping) and nursing is a great way to utilize your pump to help boost your milk production and get a new baby get used to nursing. If you are not producing much milk, you will want to cluster pump (e.g., 20 mins pumping, 10-minute break, 10 minutes nursing, 10-minute break, etc) and feed alternatively in consistent intervals of time to get both you and your baby used to a feeding schedule.*  

2. Be Consistent:

The key to successfully increasing your milk supply is consistency. Pump at the same times each day, and for the same amount of time over an extended period. If you find you’re still needing more, increase the intervals and time of your pumping sessions. Over time, your body will begin to adjust the amount of milk it produces to meet the needs of the demand. 

3. Avoid using a bottle too often early on (if possible):

When your infant is getting used to nursing, try to avoid using a bottle for supplemental feeding too often. As it’s easier to get milk from a bottle, relying on bottle feeding too often, too early on, may discourage your baby from nursing. As an alternative, find a small plastic syringe to feed your baby milk in between nursing sessions. The goal is to help your baby learn to latch and feed successfully from your breasts and not to become used to the bottle (until you’re ready to stop nursing). As your baby learns to latch effectively, the natural suckling in addition to pumping will help produce hormones that tell your body to produce more milk. If your baby is low weight, helping get their weight up will also help eventually help them to nurse more easily.  

4. Get Comfortable:

Choose a breast pump that is comfortable and does not cause you pain. Ensure you select a setting and flange that fits well and creates a good latch. Ideally your breast pump will have a selection of flanges to choose from to ensure you get a good fit. Also, ensure your body is comfortable while pumping or nursing. Using a nursing pillow, a pumping bra, or resting an arm on a chair armrest can help. Whatever your preferred position, find a place that feels comfortable for you to increase ease throughout pumping or nursing sessions. 

5. Use An Electric Pump:

While a manual breast pump can be useful, it is much more time-consuming and laborious. A manual pump often does not yield the same results as an electric breast pump, which can more easily mimic a baby’s suckling motion. If you’re wanting to use a breast pump for the purpose of increasing your milk supply, an electric pump is the best choice. 

Remember, breastfeeding is a learned skill for both you and your baby. It can be emotional and that is 100% okay. Stick with it, keep pumping and snuggling your baby and you will see positive results.

 *Always speak to your doctor, midwife or lactation specialist before beginning a cluster or power pumping regimen. And don’t forget to look after yourself! While you’re working hard to increase your milk supply and provide for and nourish your baby – don’t forget to stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet yourself too! 

Need A New Breast Pump? 

If you’re looking to buy a breast pump, we highly recommend the Ameda Mya Joy.  

It’s portable, comfortable and effective, with a wide range of suction and speed settings pre-set for ease of use. It also uses hospital-grade technology to ensure safe milk collection. 

More Blog Posts

Blog Feeding

Breastfeeding Myth-Busting

Breastfeeding Myth Busting. Manual pump in foreground.
Breastfeeding Myth Busting. Mama breastfeeding baby.

Breastfeeding Myth-Busting

Bringing a tiny human into this world, protecting them and feeding them is scary enough without being overwhelmed with the myriad of breastfeeding myths that manage to resurface over and over. You have enough to manage without second guessing how you’re feeling just because a complete stranger in the coffeeshop has opinions on your choices. The Mama Bear Club is here to help with some good old-fashioned myth-busting of some common misconceptions around breastfeeding that can lead to stress, frustration, and a reduction in milk supply.

1) Breastfeeding Myth: It Won’t Hurt.

It shouldn’t hurt and it doesn’t have to… but most Mamas out there do experience some discomfort when breastfeeding. This discomfort can range from slight irritation to full on bleeding nipples and searing pain. You are not a failure if it hurts! Pain means that your baby’s latch probably needs some work. 99% of the time it is fixable. It also can take time for your nipples to get used to the actual feel of breastfeeding. There are many awesome resources out there that focus on what a correct latch looks, feels, and sounds like (yup that’s right, a correct latch often has a specific sound).

If troubleshooting on your own doesn’t fix the issue quickly (within 2-3 days the pain should reduce significantly), don’t hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant. They are fantastic at their jobs, can often fix latch issues in just one visit and are well-versed in the plethora of breastfeeding myths out there. Whatever you do, don’t hide your pain just because you’ve been told it won’t hurt or think it shouldn’t. Ultimately, the result could be a reduced milk supply or even a damaged breastfeeding relationship. Make sure to let your midwife, doctor, or support person know if you’re feeling discomfort so you can find a solution that works for both you and your baby.

Reality: There are times when it will hurt – if it does: Fix. The. Latch.

2) Breastfeeding Myth: It Will Feel Completely Natural

The way the media, your mom/aunt/sisters, and the ladies in the coffee shop talk, breastfeeding sounds like a magical bonding act that you and your baby will instinctively know how to do. New moms often believe breastfeeding will make you feel like a divine being full of light and grace. For some women, it can be like that. For most of us mortals though, the first couple weeks (or months!) of breastfeeding can involve pumps, feeding syringes or tubes, cluster feeding, engorged and/or painful breasts, breasts that shoot milk clear across the room, clogged ducts, mastitis, and a huge variety of other things that decidedly don’t make you feel like a Goddess.

Yes, eventually you will get into a rhythm, figure out what works best for you and your baby (or babies), and maybe even feel comfortable whipping out your breasts every couple hours but there is often a settling in period. Suddenly being completely responsible for feeding a tiny human (who needs to eat so, so, much) is a lot. It will take some getting used to – so don’t beat yourself up if it all feels a bit weird. Stressing over how you’re ‘supposed’ to feel instead of embracing how you do feel is a waste of time and energy that would be much better spent cuddling, sleeping, eating or showering.

Reality: It will probably feel weird at first and that’s okay!

3) Myth: Guinness Will Help Your Milk Supply

This breastfeeding myth is actually born of a very clever ad campaign on the part of Guinness! In reality, limited research has shown that barley hops, like those found in Guinness, can aid prolactin production, which helps with milk production… however alcohol has been strongly linked to a decrease in milk production, so any benefits are quickly trampled all over.

If you want to increase your milk production through your diet, there are other options that are fully beneficial, or at least won’t harm your milk supply! These foods/herbs/teas are known as galactagogues and include powerhouses like oatmeal (or oat milk), fenugreek (normally drank in a tea), fennel seeds (which make a lovely mouth freshener too), and products like lactation cookies or lactation teas. Diet can help your milk production, but remember – the very best way to increase milk production is to feed or pump frequently, drink lots of water, get as much rest as you can, and keep your stress levels low.

Reality: Hops might help but alcohol won’t.

4) Myth: Breastfeeding = Birth Control

Breastfeeding often delays the return of your period but not always. Sometimes your period can return as early as five weeks after you give birth, even while breastfeeding (because life just isn’t fair). Ovulation occurs before you have your period, so even if your period hasn’t returned while breastfeeding after birth, you could very well get pregnant again! Some breastfeeding women don’t even realize they’re pregnant again for a couple months as their period just never comes back. This happens more often than you would think, so if you plan on having sex and aren’t ready to get pregnant again right away, make sure to use some type of contraceptive!

Reality: Nope. Not even a little bit.

Mama breastfeeding twins. Breastfeeding Myth Busting

5) Myth: Breastfeeding Will Make You Lose Weight

I wish this one were true! While technically it should be true because making breast milk burns calories, I’ve yet to meet a Mama who managed to keep her diet the same (calorie-wise) post-baby and who lost weight through breastfeeding alone. Breastfeeding makes most women hungry all the time, because you’re making milk all the time. Women who never ate breakfast pre-baby wake up starving and a snack after every middle of the night feed feels like a reward you definitely deserve.

This myth feels particularly harmful because pregnancy and birth cause our bodies to change so dramatically that the promise of assisted weight loss after birth makes those changes feel temporary and more manageable. Discovering you’re not losing any of that baby weight due to breastfeeding can contribute to postpartum depression and stress – both of which majorly impact milk production. The best way to combat this one is to a) accept that it is unlikely breastfeeding alone will help you get back to a pre-baby weight b) spend a little bit of time honouring the amazing things your body did to grow and give birth to that beautiful baby, and c) eat healthy, nutritious food that will nourish both you and your babe.

Reality: Not unless you can stick to strict calorie counting (which is not recommended while breastfeeding).

6) Myth: If the milk doesn’t come immediately, switch to formula.

While for some new moms, breast milk comes in strong and fast, other moms need some help getting the milk flowing. It’s actually very common! If your milk supply doesn’t come in immediately, don’t give up and don’t panic! Using a breast pump (like the Mya Joy) between feedings will stimulate your body to make more milk and is a proven way to increase milk production (it can also help relieve pressure if you’re an over-producing Mama). If your baby was born early and is struggling to suck, pumping milk regularly and feeding with a syringe is a great way to ensure your baby is getting your milk, gaining weight and growing stronger while helping your body get into the rhythm of regular feedings.

Reality: With a little help, most Mamas can get the milk flowing.

You’re probably going to get a lot of advice, most of it unsolicited, and most of it unhelpful throughout your parenthood journey. Knowing how to spot when something feels off or untrue is a key skill to learn as soon as possible, and breastfeeding myths. Above all, remember that every journey in breastfeeding and parenthood is different and trying to compare them will always lead to feelings of confusion and/or disappointment. Trust your instincts, feel empowered to ask questions and, above all, ask for help when you need it.

Take care of yourselves Mamas! If you haven’t yet, be sure to join our community of awesome Mamas online at Mama Bear Club on Facebook or follow us on Mama Bear Club on Instagram.

More Blog Posts


Review: Ameda PumpEase Pumping Bra

The Ameda PumpEase Pumping Bra – Putting the Fun in Functional

Hello Mamas! My name is Serena and I’m a first time Mom to the cutest little 7-week-old boy on the planet (based on a survey of my immediate family and friends, but the results were unanimous), and I am back again to tell you about my favourite pumping sidekick, the Ameda PumpEase Hands-free Pumping Bra! The PumpEase is touted as the original hands-free pumping bra, and once you use it, you can see why it inspired so many other copycats!

Pumpease Pumping Bra

Easy Peasy Hands-free Pumping

The PumpEase is super simple and straightforward, without any finicky plastic clasps that you have to worry about breaking. It is one piece of fabric that does up in the front with the same type of hook system most bras have, and has a reinforced slit over each nipple to insert the flanges into. Because it is a super simple and clean design, it’s compatible with every type of breast pump out there, and takes seconds to put on over your nursing bra/cami, or even bare skin. It’s really intuitive to use and makes you wonder why other pumping bras try so hard to accomplish something so cleanly done with the PumpEase!

Thick, Stretchy, Supportive Fabric

If you’re from Canada and were an early adopter of Lululemon, you might know how incredible the original Lulu fabric felt – and how long it lasted. There are pairs of Lulus out there that are 20+ years old and still going strong. I bring it up because that is exactly what the PumpEase fabric reminds me of. It is super thick (thicker than those original Lulus were, of course!), with a fantastic stretch, and holds the flanges securely in place without ever feeling tight or compressing your breasts (even when they’re especially tender). The manufacturers recommend sizing yourself for the PumpEase around week 38 of your pregnancy, and I found the sizing recommendation to be spot-on (it is stretchy enough and there are 4 rows of hooks to choose from so it should last you throughout your whole breastfeeding journey and bust size changes). I haven’t used my PumpEase for months yet, but I can tell the fabric will retain it’s stretch and colour for many washes to come (assuming you follow the washing directions of course).

Colourful, Because #MomLife Isn’t Boring!

Speaking of colour, you can get the PumpEase in a huge range of super fun colours and patterns. To me, this was important because I didn’t want to feel like a milk machine/cow, and every other bra basically comes in beige or black. Being a new Mom, I already feel like a hot mess, living in my stretchiest clothes, trying not to leak milk on everything, with chronic puffy eyes from lack of sleep, so the chance every day to put on something that is actually pretty AND functional – sign me up! My PumpEase is turquoise (my favourite colour) with white polka dots, but there are tonnes of other colours and patterns available (plus, of course, black and beige in case that is your jam and you’re better at adulting than I am). And the colour is lovely and rich, printed all the way through, not just sitting on top like a lot of clothes. It’s a nice way to express yourself… while expressing yourself (if you know what I mean!).

The PumpEase – My Pumping Hero!

My PumpEase is an essential part of my pumping kit, and folds up to store easily into the same bag as my Mya Joy breast pump in. I love being able to pump hands-free to take a few minutes for myself, without worrying about my pump slipping and milk spillage (gasp!) happening. As my baby grows and gets more mobile I know the PumpEase is going to be even more important as I try to juggle keeping him safe and pumping! And once I transition back to the office? I know the PumpEase is going to be my multi-tasking hero throughout the workday.

Find your MYA Joy at one of your favourite stores:

More Blog Posts


How a Feeding Schedule Develops

how a feeding schedule develops
how a feeding schedule develops

Watch Your Baby, Not the Clock: How a Feeding Schedule Develops

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but every baby is different. That means every baby will have a different feeding schedule. Unfortunately, they don’t come with a personalized feeding schedule pre-programmed either. It’s something the two of you will develop during the learning period of the first four to six weeks. During this time your body builds up its milk supply and you learn your baby’s hunger cues.

What to Look for Instead of at the Clock

The Public Health Agency of Canada recently released guidelines to help breastfeeding mothers. One of their recommendations is instead of timing feeds by the clock, look for signs from your baby. Many people think crying is a sign, it is, but crying happens after they have given the other signs and are now upset. Often, you’ll need to calm the baby down before it is ready to feed. Some of the things you should be looking for are: 

• Rooting 

• Licking lips

• Putting hands to mouth

Babies need to eat often at the beginning. It may be as much as every 1 to 3 hours, or eight or more times in 24 hours, night or day. This helps your body increase its milk supply, help your baby gain back any weight they might have lost in the first few days and it also gives your baby practice at sucking and swallowing.

Night Feedings

Night feedings are important. Just because it’s nighttime doesn’t mean your baby stops being hungry! At night some babies may prefer many short feeds while others will like fewer, longer feeds. Don’t rush your baby, it won’t help; just try and take your time. Your baby should appear content and drowsy after a feeding when they’ve had enough.

As they get older the feedings will start to be longer and the time between the feedings will grow. From about six months on, your baby’s feeding patterns will change as they start to try solid foods. If your baby becomes less interested in breastfeeding after they’ve started to eat solids, try starting with breastfeeding then give them solids. Even when they’ve started eating solid food, breastfeeding is still their most important source of nutrition.

Check back with us for all sorts of information, tips, and products to help with all stages of the pregnancy and baby journey! Follow Mama Bear Club on Facebook and Instagram or visit our website for the latest news!

More Blog Posts


How to Breastfeed Your Baby: The Basics

How to breastfeed your baby
How to breastfeed your baby

How to Breastfeed Your Baby: The Basics

Feeding your baby may be a natural process but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Many mothers struggle when first trying to get their baby to breastfeed, so if you are having difficulties remember you are not alone. The Public Health Agency of Canada has just released some tips for mothers to help them with breastfeeding, read on for an overview!

Newborn Anatomy

It’s helpful to know that newborns have very small stomachs, which can’t hold a lot of milk. This is why the first milk your breasts make is called colostrum, which is a very concentrated form of breastmilk. The small stomach size is also why your baby wants to feed so often at the beginning.

Reading Your Newborn

It helps to learn the cues your baby gives when they want to feed. Most parents don’t know at the beginning that crying is a late-stage cue and the baby will usually need to be calmed down before feeding. Some of the signs to look for are: 

  • The rooting reflex: your baby will turn their heads and open their mouths in search of food when they are touched on the mouth or cheek.
  • Putting their hands to their mouth: when a baby’s hands are free, they can more easily show that they are hungry.
  • Smacking, sucking or licking of lips.

Comfort for Both of You

To make breastfeeding more comfortable and easier for both of you, pay attention to how you position yourself. Try sitting or lying comfortably with pillows for support. There are many breastfeeding positions so try a few until you find one that works better for you. If you’ve had a C-section you may need some help at the beginning to get into a comfortable position. You’ll want to relax your shoulders and bring the baby to the breast as opposed to bringing the breast to the baby.

Proper Positioning

Bring your baby close to you and hold them tummy to tummy with their nose to the nipple and their chin to the breast with their bottom tucked in close to your body. Always support the baby’s head and neck firmly but don’t push the back of their head toward the breast, this can cause them to push away. When you rest your baby’s chin on your breast keep their nose to the nipple until your baby’s mouth opens big, like a yawn. They should then move their head back and take a big mouthful of the breast. You can also try touching your baby’s mouth with your nipple until their mouth opens wide. It can help if you hand express some milk and leave a few drops on the nipple to get your baby’s attention.

Finishing Up

While your baby is feeding, both of their lips should be rolled outwards rather than tucked tightly inwards. This means they’ll have a good seal on the nipple. The sucking will feel gentle at first but then get stronger. Your baby should establish a rhythm of one or two sucks than a swallow, then a pause to rest. When your baby stops feeding or comes off your breast, burp them before you switch to the other breast. If you need to take your baby off the breast, carefully place a finger in the corner of their mouth until you break the suction.

These tips can help you have a more successful first try with your newborn. When it goes well early on it can be a big confidence booster! But even if you’re still struggling, don’t give up hope. With experience both you and your baby can learn how to make nursing work.

For more information on breastfeeding, head to our website for all the tips and tricks you’ll need to know about feeding your newborn!

More Blog Posts


Skin-to-Skin and What It Can Do for Breastfeeding

Skin-to-Skin & What It Can Do for Breastfeeding

Every birth is different. Often they are chaotic and overwhelming, sometimes they are simple surgeries, and for others, there are scary moments. However your baby comes into the world, the first thing they need is some skin-to-skin time.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has just released some tips for mothers to help them with breastfeeding. They point out that one of the most helpful things a mother can do for breastfeeding and more, is hold the baby skin-to-skin right after birth.

From the Beginning

Being skin-to-skin encourages breastfeeding because it wakes up your baby’s feeding reflexes and helps the mother’s body begin to make milk. A newborn is often awake and ready to feed in the first hour after birth. Studies have shown that skin-to-skin contact also calms the baby by reducing stress hormones which in turn decreases crying. Skin-to-skin time has also shown to reduce postpartum depression.

Beyond Breastfeeding

That’s not all it does. Being skin-to-skin with your baby right after birth helps regulate a newborn’s temperature, heart rate and breathing. It also brings changes to the baby’s natural gut bacteria which helps protect them from infection and illness. But not every birth can quickly allow for skin-to-skin with the mother. In cases of c-sections the mother may be unable to safely hold the child right away, also in births of multiples there may be more than a mother can handle at once. This provides a great opportunity for the partner to get involved. Partners need skin-to-skin time with their baby too!

Partner Skin-to-Skin Time

The benefits of skin-to-skin time go beyond immediately after birth and breastfeeding. When either parent holds their baby close, both experience an increase in oxytocin, the love hormone. This creates a natural bond. The partner’s relationship with the baby is just as important as the mother’s. It can take longer for the partner to establish a similar bond to the mother and the best way to do it is with a lot of skin-to-skin time. Engaging in eye contact is also helpful in creating bonds.

Skin-to-Skin Tips

A good position to use while recovering from birth and to get some skin-to-skin contact is to lie back in bed, propped up with pillows, and place baby between your breasts. Do this without a shirt on for maximum contact. Let them nurse if they want to. Breastfeeding in this laid-back position makes it easier for the baby to latch. Do this whenever you like for at least an hour. When the mother is skin-to-skin with her baby it will help her body produce more prolactin which is the hormone responsible for your milk supply.

There are plenty of products to help both parents get skin-to-skin time, one of our favourites is the JoeyBand. The JoeyBand helps with skin-to-skin contact and mimics the deep pressure feel of the womb. It’s designed to help keep baby in the right position and prevent falls. It can be very useful for mother’s immediately after a c-section as they may be a bit groggy and can’t hold on to the baby well. Ask your doctor or midwife if there is a JoeyBand you can use at your hospital!

Skin-to-Skin As They Grow

You can use skin-to-skin contact for connecting with your baby for as long as you want. Eventually they will be bigger and not as inclined to lie with you. As your baby grows and moves on from this type of contact it’s important to continue physical touch with hugs and other kinds of physical interactions. We all need loving touch, and it helps our brains and our bodies from the moment we’re born and for the rest of our lives.

Check back with us for all sorts of information, tips and products to help with all stages of the pregnancy and baby journey! Follow Mama Bear Club on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news!

More Blog Posts