Advice For Increasing Your Breastmilk Supply

November 27, 2013
Advice For Increasing Your Breastmilk Supply

There are so many reasons why moms choose to breastfeed, but unfortunately, it’s common for moms to stop altogether. It’s not always possible for a mom to continue breastfeeding, due in part to concerns of low breastmilk supply, but medical reasons for low supply are actually fairly uncommon. By learning to recognize your baby’s feeding cues and unique needs in addition to maintaining a consistent breastfeeding routine, most perceived supply issues can be prevented and remedied.

Typically, when you first begin breastfeeding, your breastmilk supply develops based on your child’s needs – it’s a supply-and-demand process. This is why it is particularly important that you breastfeed early and often. Breastfeeding as soon as possible – preferably within an hour after birth – will help you and your baby get off to a good start.

In the beginning, you may feel as though you need to breastfeed continuously in order to empty your breasts, especially if your little one comfort nurses or cluster feeds. But then, as you continue to breastfeed, you may feel like you aren’t producing as much milk. Don’t worry. Your body has just become more in tune with your baby’s needs and your supply may fluctuate and continue adjusting to their unique growth pattern. So, listen to your little one and feed whenever they seem hungry. Likewise, try not to stop feedings before your baby is completely finished – this ensures that they empty your breasts and get all the milk they need or want. A breastfeeding routine based on your baby’s needs, rather than a strict schedule, will help ensure you produce the right amount of milk for your child.

Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet and always drink enough water to satisfy your thirst. Herbal supplements like fenugreek also help some moms build and maintain their supply. If you’re interested in trying herbal supplements to increase your breastmilk supply, ask for more information from a Lactation Consultant or your health care provider. You might also consider taking a nursing vacation. This means spending 2 to 3 days breastfeeding, cuddling and relaxing with your baby. The rest will help rejuvenate your body and the time the baby spends at breast will help to activate the hormones that stimulate milk production.

Maintaining and increasing your supply can also depend on the breastfeeding habits you develop. It is crucial to make sure your baby is nursing efficiently, because if less milk is removed from the breast, your supply can decrease. Check that your baby is latching properly if you are experiencing nipple pain or are having low supply issues.

Also, avoid or delay the use of bottles and pacifiers until after breastfeeding is well established. Early use of these items can cause missed breastfeeding opportunities and lead to nipple confusion for your baby, making it harder for him or her to nurse and harder for you to keep your supply up.

If your baby falls asleep at the breast often, try “switch nursing,” which means alternating breasts two or three times throughout each feeding, and even changing baby’s diaper before switching breasts. This activity keeps baby awake, alert and interested and can also stimulate milk production, encouraging your baby to breastfeed longer.

Pumping may help you increase your supply and collect a breastmilk surplus. It can be beneficial to fully empty your breasts by pumping after your baby feeds and continuing to pump for two minutes after the last drop of milk comes out. Some moms pump and feed breastmilk exclusively. If your baby is born prematurely or you need to exclusively pump for other reasons, talk to your healthcare provider about renting a hospital-grade pump.

When pumping, try carrying a baby blanket or something else that has baby’s scent on it in your pump bag – in order to aid let-down, some moms need a physiological stimulus or a reminder of their baby. You might also consider recording your little one’s hunger cry on your phone and playing it back before you pump, looking at photos of your baby, or catching a whiff of their unique baby scent – all are cues that signal to your body it’s time to breastfeed!

Occasionally, some mothers do have more serious supply issues that require treatment from a healthcare provider or by working with a Lactation Consultant. If you are experiencing unexplained pain or your baby isn’t gaining weight, please reach out to your doctor, search for a Lactation Professional near you, or consult with our LC one-on-one via email. They are equipped to help you breastfeed successfully and can help you determine any hidden hindrances that might be compromising your supply.

Do you have supply tips of your own? Please share in the comments below.

26 thoughts on “Advice For Increasing Your Breastmilk Supply

  1. Hi…i nurse my almost 3 month old baby girl all throw the day every…iv been having to go away on the weekends…i have noticed im making less milk when i pump i want from 4oz each breast to 2-3oz each breast every 4-6 hours is when i pump when im away from baby and iv been and have been drinking alot of water every day all day. Iv started the new supplement buy similac is that good to take or not? I also take my prenatal still how can i increase at pumpings and all together???

    • Hi Kelsey,

      First off – great work! We’re proud of you for breastfeeding for 3 months. Know that it’s normal for a mom who is breastfeeding full-time to be able to pump around 1/2 to 2 ounces total (for both breasts) per pumping session. The best thing you can do to boost and maintain your supply is to pump or nurse frequently – because your breasts produce milk on a supply-and-demand basis. You can learn more about what to do if you’re not pumping enough milk here: http://bit.ly/1oCLgji. We also recommend talking to a Lactation Consultant, they are great resources for questions about breastmilk supply and pumping. Find an LC near you by searching here: http://bit.ly/1DAEGnE

      Hope this helps!
      Kathy

  2. I had some health problems develop which caused me to have a drop in supply then because of my health I couldn’t get enough strength to hold my daughter to breastfeed so i pumped. Then sadly I was told to stop breastfeeding for a week while on meds. Had to pump and dump. My supply is now down to an oz total per session. I only have a manual but I just ordered the pump in style. Will that help. What else can I do.

    • Hi Misty,

      I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been having trouble with breastfeeding and maintaining your supply. First, know that it is completely normal for breastfeeding moms to pump 1-3 oz. per session (not per breast, per session). Every drop counts and you’re doing a great job – don’t feel discouraged! The best thing you can do to boost your supply is breastfeed or pump often. Here are more tips for managing a pumping decrease: http://bit.ly/1kFfROf. Please also feel free to reach out to our Lactation Consultant, she’d be happy to help you: http://bit.ly/bCstvj. Hang in there!

      Kathy

  3. I’ve been breastfeeding my almost 3 month old since day one. At the first of March My Dr. Urged me to get the depo. After about a week my supply started to decrease each day. I’ve been power pumping, taking fenugreek and drinking mothers milk tea but it hasn’t increased much. Now my baby seems to be hungrier and it’s almost as if Im not giving her enough what should I do.

    • Hi Sha,

      I’m sorry that you’re experiencing trouble with your breastmilk supply. We suggest that you reach out to a Lactation Consultant, as they are great resources for all things breastfeeding related and would be able to help guide you best. Click here to use our search tool and find an LC near you: http://bit.ly/MedelaBNN

      Thank you,
      Kathy

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