How does suction intensity affect my milk supply?
How is breast pump suction measured?
If you check the product description of your favorite breast pump, you’ll see the suction documented as mmHG, or millimeters of mercury. The more mmHG, the more intense the suction. At Milk N Mamas Baby, we carry breast pumps with a range of suction intensity, from the Medela at a maximum strength of 240 mmHG to the BabyBuddha at a whopping 320 mmHG of maximum strength. In between, are Luna at 280 mmHG and Spectra at a maximum strength of 270 mmHG.
Main Takeaway: Breast pump suction, or vacuum, usually falls between 220 and 350 mmHG.
Is a breast pump with a stronger suction intensity better?
Suction does play a role in milk production. A study published in Breastfeeding Medicine analyzed the effect of strength of suction on the flow rate and volume of breastmilk using an electric breast pump. Mothers participating in the study expressed breastmilk for 15 minutes using a pump set at their own maximum comfortable vacuum. Then, they expressed at softer vacuums. The study found that milk flow was greater at the maximum comfortable vacuum, and cream content was higher.
Main takeaway: Pumping at the highest intensity you’re comfortable with is likely to lead to increased milk flow and cream content.
Maximum comfortable vacuum may vary from one mother to another (or even from one feeding session to another)
It hardly needs to be said that every mother is different and, therefore, every mother’s maximum comfortable vacuum will also be different. However, your maximum comfort vacuum may change from day to day and even from feeding session to feeding session. While pumping at your maximum comfort vacuum can increase flow, pumping at an uncomfortable suction can hinder milk flow. If a suction level is set too high, it can cause breast tissue to compress, which can block the flow of milk ducts and potentially irritate them. Furthermore, if the suction level is uncomfortable, your body is less likely to produce the oxytocin that helps stimulate letdown.
Main takeaway: Increase your suction intensity until it is just slightly uncomfortable, and then back it down to find your own, personal maximum comfort vacuum.
Talk to our consultants to learn more about the breast pump most likely to meet your needs
At Milk N Mamas Baby, we know that different moms need different pumping solutions. We’ve had years of experience helping all kids of moms find the best breast pump for their circumstances. Give us a call today to learn how we can help you find a breast pump that meets your needs and your budget. Many of our pumps are 100% covered by insurance.