6 Tips for Increasing Your Breast Milk Supply
If you are struggling with increasing your breast milk supply, here is a look at some of the ways that you can maximize your milk production.
How to Increase Milk Supply
Now that you and baby have gotten the hang of breastfeeding basics, it’s very common if you might be feeling unsure if you’re making enough milk. One of the many questions that might go through your mind is, “how can I start producing more milk?” If baby is gaining weight well, you probably don’t need to be worried about low milk supply. If you do feel you have low breast milk supply, be sure to talk with your doctor or a lactation consultant. You can also see below for a number of helpful ways to increase your milk supply:
Express your milk as often as possible. Your breast milk is produced on a supply and demand basis. How often and how much milk is removed from the breast are the main factors that determine how much milk will be made. In other words, the more often the milk is removed from the breasts (by baby or breast pump), the more milk the breasts will produce. Parents often ask if there is anything they can do to increase their supply of breast milk quickly. When it comes to production, though, regularity is a key factor.
Increase how often you nurse and/or pump. You can increase the frequency that you empty your breasts to start signaling your body to produce more milk. Some moms have seen a great response when adding an evening or early-morning nursing or pumping session. Make sure you’re nursing or pumping at least eight times a day. Keep a printable feeding and pumping log on hand to carefully track your pumping sessions, your little one's feedings, and other important information to help you stay organized as your breast milk feeding routine changes.
If you’re exclusively pumping your breast milk for your baby, double pumping (pumping on both sides at once) will yield more milk and decrease the amount of time you spend pumping. Even if you’re not getting the yield you want at first, don’t be discouraged. Over time, there is a good chance that your body will respond to the increased regularity of pumping or nursing by increasing your milk supply.
Nurse and pump. Another way to boost your supply is to breastfeed and then pump. Sometimes your breasts may not feel completely “empty” after nursing, so add a pumping session right after your baby finishes eating. This will stimulate your body to produce more and start increasing milk supply – even if it’s just a little bit.
Keeping a copy of current breast milk storage guidelines (also available in Spanish) on your fridge or at your pumping station can help you remember when to refrigerate, freeze, and feed your pumped milk to your little one, so none of that precious liquid gold goes to waste. Every drop counts!
Focus on self-care. Taking good care of yourself can also impact your breast milk supply and potentially increase breast milk production. Try keeping healthy snacks and bottles of water stashed by your bedside table or the chair or couch where you most frequently nurse. Find time to relax and focus on yourself – take a bath, take a nap, read a book, whatever helps relax you. It may seem nearly impossible to find the time, but by taking care of yourself, you are taking care of your baby, too!
Consult with the professionals. If your concerns about low breast milk supply go beyond what’s been suggested, you can always reach out to a lactation professional. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant can help determine what might be affecting your milk production and work with you to find ways to address and resolve these challenges.
Lactation enhancements. Some moms have turned to lactation enhancements (galactagogues) to increase breast milk production. Studies are mixed as to their effectiveness, but each mom should explore these options for herself and make the appropriate choice for her breastfeeding journey.
Teas, cookies, and smoothies containing herbs like fenugreek or alfalfa, or common ingredients like flaxseed meal, oats, and brewer’s yeast, are often used as natural lactation enhancements. Be sure to consult with your doctor or lactation consultant before utilizing these products to ensure their safety and efficacy.
Be Patient with Yourself
If you’re not getting the results you want right away, don’t be discouraged! Sticking to an established pumping and nursing routine, expressing often, communicating regularly with your doctor or a lactation consultant, and taking care of yourself are time-tested ways to increase your breast milk supply.
In the end, as long as baby is happy, healthy, and growing, you shouldn’t be worried about your breast milk supply. Always consult with your baby’s doctor (and yours!) or a lactation consultant if you’re concerned. It’s okay (and totally normal!), if you need a little bit of help on your breastfeeding journey!