How to Increase Breastmilk: The Ultimate Guide for New Moms
One of the biggest concerns for new breastfeeding moms is how to increase breastmilk. I know this was the case for me when all three of my babies were born.
I want to help other moms who are struggling with a wide range of breastfeeding challenges. And maybe even offer a bit of hope in the process.
If you’re a mom who already has a steady flow of liquid gold for their new baby, you’re not wasting your precious time reading this article!
You’re here to get the best breastfeeding tips and wondering if your baby is getting enough milk.
If you do pump, you produce a few meager ounces which can be frustrating and depressing. Can I offer you some friendly advice first? Do NOT go down that dark road. It leads nowhere.
Keeping your mind on what’s working and what you can actually control goes a long way!
How to Know if Your Milk Supply is Even Low
Boosting your milk supply can be tricky because it’s hard to tell why or even if your milk supply is low, to begin with. You may feel tempted to start pumping to see how much milk you can make.
Jacque Ordner BSN, RN, IBCLC, RLC says, “The amount you can pump is not necessarily an indicator of the amount your body is making. Pumping is a learned skill that takes time to develop for many moms.”
Every baby’s milk needs are unique and you may be making the right amount of milk for your baby. Plus, babies are much more efficient at removing milk from the breast than a pump. And many pumps don’t even work that well.
Many moms also think their supply is low because their breasts don’t feel full or their baby is fussy all the time. Keep in mind, other things can cause this to occur.
It’s helpful to note that breasts that produce plenty of milk will often never feel full which is normal.
And things like reflux, colic, or overstimulation can cause a baby to be fussy. None of which have anything to do with milk supply.
Here are three surefire ways to tell if your baby is not getting enough milk:
- Your baby is not gaining adequate weight. (Weight recommendations.)
- Your baby is not wetting enough diapers. A typical infant should be wetting at least 5 diapers in a 24-hour period from 5 days old and onward.
- Your baby is not soiling enough diapers. A typical newborn should be soiling at least 3 diapers per day beyond day 5. This is sometimes less or more depending on your baby.
If you suspect your milk supply is low and your baby isn’t getting enough milk don’t panic.
Make an appointment with your baby’s pediatrician right away. A certified lactation consultant is also a great resource.
Boosting your milk supply is something you’ll have to work on. Experiment with it until you find something that works for your body. This isn’t an overnight process… nothing is with parenting.
Decide what you want to do and stick with it until you see results. And get all the help you need because you and your baby deserve it!
There are also many proven and recommended methods you can try to boost your milk supply. Most of these won’t increase your supply overnight, so try them for at least a week to see how your body responds.
Good Breastfeeding Practices to Encourage Supply
Before we get into the tips, there are a few standard practices that provide a good foundation for a healthy milk supply.
Every nursing mother has unique challenges with her health, body, and lifestyle. Each of these challenges will result in different outcomes.
Keeping that in mind, here are a few standard practices that help give nursing mothers the best possible start.
The first is to nurse first before using a pump and nurse as often as possible.
Ginna Wall, RN, MN, IBCLC, retired former director ofÂ UW Medical Center‘s lactation servicesÂ shares that, “In most cases the baby talks to the breasts by nursing as much as needed, and tells the breasts how much milk to make.”
Every woman’s lifestyle can’t accommodate an on-demand breastfeeding routine. Especially for moms who have gone back to work full-time. This is just a strong recommendation to do if and whenever possible.
Another common reason for a low supply is the baby isn’t fully emptying each breast due to a poor latch.
A licensed Lactation Consultant can help your baby learn to latch properly. As well as help you find the most comfortable breastfeeding positions.
Finally, it’s very important for new moms to reduce their stress levels. Big ask…I know. Not to mention that having a low milk supply can cause more stress for the new mom.
But, according to Shivani Patel,Â M.D., “between lack of sleep and adjusting to the baby’s schedule, rising levels of certain hormones such as cortisol can dramatically reduce your milk supply.”
Ways to Boost Your Milk Supply
Now it’s time to get into the milk-boosting tips. Each of the natural methods to boost your milk supply shared here prove safe and will only help you.
A few methods do have side effects, so be sure to read those before trying any new supplements. And, check with your doctor before trying any of these supplements.
Remember that every woman’s body is different and there are never any guarantees. If you find that your body doesn’t cooperate, know you’re NOT alone.
I formula-fed all three of my babies after breastfeeding and they are three of the healthiest, brightest, and smartest kids I know… if I do say so myself.
There is never any shame in feeding your baby in any way that’s needed or chosen by you… a loving mother.
Now, let’s explore all the ways to increase your breast milk supply naturally. But first I want to say that I’m not a lactation expert. Just another mom who cares a lot and does a TON of research!
Read: Breastfeeding videos for new moms that are actually helpful.
Supplements That Increase Milk Supply
Using Fenugreek to boost milk supply is one of the most popular ways breastfeeding moms are increasing their milk. It’s been shown to increase supply within 24-72 hours, but that, of course, will vary from mom to mom.
Fenugreek is a maple-tasting herb. Its primary uses are as an herb or spice in Indian and Persian cuisine. But is also used as an effective galactagogue for breastfeeding mothers.
Fenugreek is safe but those with diabetes, a chickpea or peanut allergy, or asthma should avoid using.
There are many ways to use Fenugreek. Here are just a few of the easiest ways:
- Take it in simple capsule form. The capsules generally come in 610mg and it’s recommended to take 2 capsules 3 times per day with food. That’s a total of 6 capsules per day. (Dosing source) | Here is a capsule that gets high ratings from breastfeeding moms.
- Take in a tea form. Many moms swear by Mother’s Milk Tea which is an easy way to take Fenugreek. It has a slightly sweet licorice taste.
- Take in powder form. You can use Fenugreek powder to make lactation smoothies to pump up the nutrients you’re getting while breastfeeding. The only downside to using a powder is the high price tag.
Brewer’s Yeast Breastfeeding
Brewer’s yeast is another popular and effective supplement to boost a low milk supply.
It’s not clear why brewers yeast helps increase breastmilk supply, but it comes with some other amazing benefits. It may lower blood sugar levels for diabetics, lower cholesterol, and nourish skin and hair.
It’s also believed to elevate moods and feelings of mild depression. And with so many moms suffering from Postpartum Depression, it’s worth a try!
It has some possible side effects such as upset stomach, cramps, and an increased risk of yeast infections.
You can take brewer’s yeast in a simple powder form. This brand of brewer’s yeast has hundreds of happy mom reviews! Add 1-2 tablespoons to your favorite drink, lactation smoothie, or lactation cookie once per day.
More Breastfeeding Supplements
There are a few less common supplements to use for increasing your milk supply.
- Blessed Thistle
- Stinging Nettle
- Goat’s Rue
- Milk Thistle
Always talk to your doctor before taking any herbal treatments. For many centuries, herbal remedies have been used as medications. And, like prescription drugs, herbs and plants can have side effects.
Depending on the preparation, some herbs can even be toxic.
There are also foods that tend to help increase milk production. The following are referred to as lactation foods or the lactation diet.
- Rolled Oats
- Vegetables like carrots, yams, and dark leafy greens
- Sesame Seeds
Here’s a great resource of lactation recipes!
Increase Breastmilk Through Pumping
You can also increase your milk supply through pumping, also known as power pumping. The concept is simple: the more your baby nurses or you pump, the more signals your body receives to tell it to produce more milk.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you want to boost your milk supply fast, power pumping can help by creating an artificially high demand for breast milk. By increasing the number of times you pump, you give your body the message to increase milk production.Ã¢â‚¬ Ã¢â‚¬â€ Helen Anderson, Chief Lactation Officer
Power pumping works great for moms who already have a good milk supply but notice a dip in their supply.
Their nursing routine may have changed due to a breast infection, returning to work, or the baby can’t nurse.
It also works for moms who are exclusively pumping as I did with my son. I wasn’t able to hold him for more than a few minutes per day when he was hospitalized with Juandice.
I had to start pumping right away for days and he never took to the breast so I decided to pump exclusively for as long as I could.
Power pumping helps to mimic cluster feeding which is a natural increase in your baby’s desire and need for milk. Your body will naturally respond with an increased milk supply.
Power pumping requires a time commitment. You’ll need to set aside an hour for your full power-pumping session which will look like this:
- You’ll pump both breasts for 20 minutes
- Rest for 10 minutes
- Pump for 10 minutes
- Rest for 10 minutes
- Pump for 10 minutes
You can do this at least 2 times a day until you see your supply increase and then gradually reduce your power pumping sessions.
When to Know When it’s Time to Supplement with Formula
There are times when it’s necessary to begin supplementing with formula. If you think you may need to supplement, it’s always best to consult with your baby’s pediatrician.
If your baby isn’t wetting or soiling the recommended diapers or gaining weight based on their age, it’s time to seek help. When it comes to your baby’s health, fed is always best.
Do you have a tip that worked to increase your breastmilk supply that I didn’t mention? Please share it in the comments below!