chevron arrow icon

Foundations of Milk Supply

You’re not the only mom feeling confused about how to establish, increase, and protect her supply. Learn about the foundations of milk supply and the three secrets you should know.

Foundations of Milk Supply

Want Milk? Three secrets to creating and maintaining a consistent milk supply

Can I let you in on a secret? You’re not the only mom feeling confused about how to establish, increase, and protect her supply.

If you could peek at my DMs or eavesdrop on my consults on any given day, you’d see one question repeated over, and over, and over again.

increase milk supply
major dip in milk supply please help me
tips to increase milk supply

It’s a hot topic and for good reason! The amount of milk we produce impacts how we feed our babies. When we know exactly how to make enough milk and where to focus our energy, we feel less anxious, less stressed, and less likely to spend our money on ineffective and expensive teas, cookies, and supplements.

If you want to feel empowered and in control of your feeding journey, you don’t need all that extra stuff.  You just need to know where to focus your energy and attention.

What Matters Most with Milk Supply

Milk supply is a lot like a tricycle. It is supported and powered by three “wheels”:

  1. A consistent pumping schedule
  2. A good flange fit
  3. Proper pump use

If one of those wheels gets stuck, deflates, or falls off, your supply—like a tricycle—will struggle to keep going. Without these three elements working together, your milk supply will decrease or disappear all together.

I know my clients probably think I sound like a broken record any time they come to me about their supply, because I always start by asking the same three questions:

  • What is your pumping schedule?
  • How well does your flange fit?
  • How are you using your pump?

And nine times out of ten, one of these elements needs fixing, so mom can regain her supply and her sanity.

The three secrets of supply:

One: Your Schedule

What to Know

Your milk supply works off the principle of supply and demand. When you empty your breasts, it tells your body to make more milk. If you don’t empty your breasts, your body assumes you’re good and don’t need more milk. If you don’t pump on schedule once or twice, you might see a slight dip, but if you make it a habit, you risk losing your milk altogether.

This is why following a nursing or pumping schedule is so important. By regularly emptying your breasts, you keep the milk making on track!

Now when you hear me say “schedule” you might think I mean you have to pump at the same exact time—down to the second—every single day for as long as you nurse or pump. But that’s not the case at all! You won’t always pump or nurse at the exact same times from day to day because you’re human and life just doesn’t work that way. What you do want to aim for is trying to pump or nurse every 3-4 hours during the day. This gives you both the regularity you need to build and maintain supply, plus the flexibility you need to roll with whatever comes your way on any given day.

What to Do
  • If you are 0-12 weeks postpartum, you should empty your breasts a minimum of every three hours, for a total of 7-9 nursing or pumping sessions within a 24-hour period. 
  • If you are past 12 weeks postpartum, your schedule will depend on whether you are an undersupplier, oversupplier, or just enougher. The amount of ounces you make in 24 hours influences how many times you need to pump in a 24 hour period.
  • Check out the Ultimate Pumping Course for tools to help you build your schedule, including sample schedules, tips for nursing, bottle feeding, and pumping, and how to manage the dreaded middle of the night pump.
The Secret to Your Supply:

For a milk supply you can count on, empty your breasts consistently on a regular, predictable schedule.

Two: Your Flange Fit

What to Know

The flange is the plastic funnel shaped part of your pump that fits over your nipple. 

breast pump | Foundations of Milk Supply

When you turn on your pump, it creates a seal, drawing your nipple into the flange and stimulating it so it will release milk. This is how nipples are supposed to look while pumping

Proper flange fit ensures your ability to empty your breasts efficiently and effectively, every single time you pump.  If your flange is too big, you’ll spend most of your pumping session slipping in and out of it instead of expressing your milk. If your flange is too small, you won’t even make it through a pumping session to get the milk because it will be too painful.

Flanges aren’t one size fits all, and you may need a different size than the flanges included with your pump!

Think of your flange like a pair of shoes. If you’re going to wear them everywhere, you want them to fit. You don’t want to be sliding in and out of a pair that’s too big, and you definitely don’t want the pain and blisters from a pair that’s too small.

If you want a consistent milk supply, it’s worth taking the time to find the right size for you.

What to Do:
  • Measure your nipples! Instead of guessing about your size, you can use this free flange ruler and watch this step-by-step tutorial to determine your flange size once and for all. Pump for ten minutes prior to measuring, and don’t be surprised if you have two differently sized nipples.
  • For a deep dive on all things flanges, including flange and nipple types, check out my flange blog post here.
  • Or go straight to  The Ultimate Pumping Course for a full flange module including videos for every flange size.
The Secret to Your Supply:

A properly fitting flange eliminates pain, discomfort, and fit-induced frustration, so you can fully empty your breasts every time you pump.

Three: Working your pump

What to Know

Believe it or not, there’s more to using your pump than just turning it on and letting it run. But this is the method most moms use when they start to pump, because who has time to read the user’s manual when you are freshly postpartum and dealing with a hungry baby? 

Your pump is designed to empty your breasts efficiently and effectively if you know the right buttons to push.
Your pump should have these three buttons:

  1. The Let Down Button, which allows you to switch back and forth between two modes—let-down and expression—which are the two phases of the pumping cycle
  2. The Cycle Button, which controls how fast your nipple is pulled into the end of the nipple shield. 
  3. The Vacuum Button, which controls the intensity of the suction on your nipple.
What to Do:
  • Play with your pump! Now that you know what the buttons are called, and what they do, don’t be afraid to use them to make adjustments as you pump. Try speeding up or slowing down the cycle to see what speed works best for you. Try increasing and decreasing the vacuum to see what level of suction is both effective and comfortable (because there are no bonus points for being in pain).
  • Use The Ultimate Pumping Course to take the guesswork out of mastering your machine. With an entire module dedicated to working your pump, you’ll find step-by-step instructions for how to use your pump based on the number of ounces you make. The Ultimate Pumping Course also includes individual video tutorials for the most popular pumps, plus easy-to-read buttons and settings guides, so you can maximize your time and your milk production.
  • Purchase my Increasing Supply and Building a Stash workshop and feel even more empowered to feed your baby the way you want for as long as you want.

The Secret to Your Supply:

When you make the most of your pump’s settings, you’ll make the most of your pumping sessions.

One Last Thing

It can be easy to stress about supply, but your worth isn’t measured in ounces, and your baby needs you more than they need your breastmilk.

Pumping Made Possible

Pumping doesn’t have to suck. But if you don’t have the education and support you need, it kind of does. I know, because I’ve been there.

And that’s why I created The Ultimate Pumping Course: A step-by-step guide to stress-free pumping, from the first feed to the last.

This self-paced online course empowers you to:

  • Reduce discomfort and increase supply
  • Accomplish your pumping goals, short and long-term
  • Trust your instincts and feed your baby, not your anxiety.
  • Take control of your pumping journey, from start to finish.

You can be a confident mother pumper. Buy The Ultimate Pumping Course and get the roadmap you need to have the positive pumping experience you deserve.