Learn how to boost your milk supply. Know steps you can take to increase milk production, from pumping to taking supplements. Learn how milk supply works, how many feedings your baby should have in a day, what medical issues can hurt breastmilk supply, and what you can do about it.
One of the biggest stresses in a new parent’s life is wondering if baby is getting enough to eat. No one wants to leave their baby hungry, so whether you have your first baby or fourth baby, full feedings is a big concern.
If you are breastfeeding, you worry about having a good milk supply. If you know you have a low milk supply, you will want to increase that supply quickly.
- How Milk Supply Works
- Make Sure Baby is Getting Enough Feedings
- Make Sure Baby is Getting Full Feedings
- How To Boost Supply During Feeds
- Pump After Breastfeeding
- Mom’s Diet and Supplements to Increase Breast Milk Supply
- Mom’s Lifestyle Changes to Increase Milk Supply
- Address Medical Issues
- Related Posts
How Milk Supply Works
When you are breastfeeding your baby, your milk supply is all about supply and demand. When your baby does not put enough demand on the supply when he nurses, your body will not make enough. To increase supply, you increase demand.
Of course nothing in life is that simple. While supply and demand is a basic way milk supply works, some women can struggle with a decrease in supply for other reasons. These can include hormones being off, too much blood loss at delivery, medical conditions (diabetes, PCOS, thyroid disorders, mammary hypoplasia…), and previous breast surgery.
You might also be having supply issues if your baby has some medical issues, such as a tongue or lip tie.
Make Sure Baby is Getting Enough Feedings
As you start to address your milk supply, the first thing to double check is that baby is getting enough feedings in a 24 hour period.
The correct number of feedings varies based on baby’s age. Here is what is typical.
- Newborn: 8-10 feedings
- 8 weeks: 6-10 feedings
- 12 weeks: 5-8 feedings
- 4 months: 4-6 feedings
- 6 months: 4-5 feedings
- 9 months: 3-4 feedings
This may be different for your baby depending on size and medical conditions.
To get the correct number of feedings, you might need to wake a sleeping baby. You should absolutely wake a sleeping baby in order to get enough feedings in the day.
If your baby is getting the correct number of feedings for her age, you might need to increase the number of feeds to increase stimulation on the breast. Feeding every two hours for a day or two might be enough to solve your issues.
Make Sure Baby is Getting Full Feedings
Along with having enough feedings in a day, you want to make sure your baby is taking a full feed when it happens.
You want baby to empty both breasts when breastfeeding. This tells the body there is a demand for more. You want baby to get enough milk. One good way to monitor if baby is getting enough at feedings is to monitor wet and dirty diapers.
How To Boost Supply During Feeds
There are a number of things you can do while you breastfeed your baby to help boost supply and increase breast milk production.
- Watch latch. If your baby does not have a correct latch, your baby will struggle to empty the breast. If your baby has a lip or tongue tie, it will be hard to latch correctly. If your baby is struggling with a latch, it can be a good idea to see a lactation consultant to help baby and help you help baby.
- Keep baby awake. In order to take a full feeding, your baby will need to stay awake for the feeding. This is very hard with a newborn! Get tips for keeping a newborn awake here.
- Offer both breasts. Again, your body needs to know that there is need for more supply. Offer both breasts to help with stimulation.
- Massage breast during feeds. Breast compression can help empty the breast during the feed.
- Let baby eat longer than needed. Your baby might empty the breast after 20 minutes. If your baby will still suck, then you are increasing stimulation on the nipples and telling the body more supply is needed.
Pump After Breastfeeding
If your baby will not continue to suck once the milk is gone from the breast, you might try a pumping session.
As soon as baby is done eating, you pump for 10-20 minutes. You will do this for 2-3 days to help boost your supply.
If you do not have a pump, you might be able to rent one from your hospital. The benefit of renting from the hospital is you get a hospital grade pump. You can also try simply hand expressing after a feeding just to give a little more stimulation.
Mom’s Diet and Supplements to Increase Breast Milk Supply
Mom’s diet can really affect milk supply. Here are things you can do to help with your supply.
- Consume enough calories. You will probably need an extra 300-400 more calories a day to keep your supply up.
- Drink enough water. If you do not drink enough water, you will not make enough milk. Keep a water bottle with you at all times so you are more likely to drink water as you are thirsty. It can be hard to attend to your own needs when caring for a baby, so it might help to track your water intake.
- Eat a healthy diet. You want to consume a well-balanced diet. Eat whole grains like brown rice as well as fruts and vegetables. Oatmeal can be helpful. Multivitiamins might help you make sure you get the nutrients you need.
- Include galactagogues in your diet. These are milk-stimulating foods and include brewer’s yeast, yams, wheat germ, flax seeds, fennel, dark leafy greens, and whole oats. Galactagogues are foods that help increase breast milk production.
- Supplement with herbs. There are also galactagogues that are herbs. A popular one for breastfeeding mothers is fenugreek. You can also take milk thistle or alfalfa.
- Eat lactation cookies. There are many recipes you can try. Lactation cookies have galactagogues ingredients in them and are a delicious way to get it in.
Mom’s Lifestyle Changes to Increase Milk Supply
There may be some lifestyle changes mom can make to help improve how much milk mom makes.
- Get enough sleep. I recognize how frustrating this tip can be, but that doesn’t make it less accurate. Do your best to get rest and sleep so your body can work to make milk. For 2-3 days, cut your to-do list back as far as you can so rest can be a priority.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco. These things can stunt milk production.
Address Medical Issues
If you or baby have any of the medical issues listed earlier in this article, have them addressed. Diet and lifestyle can help despite medical issues, but you might be fighting a battle you cannot win if you do not fix what you need to medically.
Typically your efforts can yield results in 24-48 hours. If you do not see improvement, seek advice from your healthcare professional.
- Breastfeeding Difficulties: Milk Supply Limit
- Reasons for Feeding Baby Sooner than 2.5 Hours
- Troubleshooting Common Breastfeeding Difficulties
- Thrush Infection When Breastfeeding
- Fussy Newborns and Mom’s Diet
- Mastitis: Definition, Prevention, and Treatment
- Success as a Mom is not measured by feeding method