Disclaimer: The following is not intended to be medical advice and is presented for informational purposes only. Always consult with a doctor about you and your baby’s medical care.
As a mom of four, I’ve spent years of the last decade breastfeeding. I’ve also experienced my fair share of breastfeeding woes. One persistent problem I’ve had as a nursing mom is a low milk supply. My little ones have always been slow to meet their 1-month milestones for weight gain. It seems I’ve put so much effort into learning how to increase milk supply fast.
Through all of these trials, I’ve learned there is no magic bullet for making a ton of milk. Even so, there are definitely a few habits you can adopt if you want to increase your milk supply.
How to Increase Your Milk Supply (Fast)
If you suspect your milk supply isn’t up to par with your infant’s hunger, there are a few things you can do to quickly increase your output.
Whether you’re pumping output is lackluster or your baby isn’t hitting weight gain milestones, the tips and tricks below could help you to give your breast milk a boost.
However, it’s also really important to keep in touch with you doctor and your baby’s pediatrician. You’ll want to be sure there are no medical issues that could be behind your lowered milk supply and you’ll also want to be sure your baby is growing appropriately as you work through your supply issues.
Babies that are very young can become dehydrated or not get adequate nutrition very easily, so if you’re full-time breastfeeding and having issues with supply, it’s extremely important to work with a doctor to ensure your baby is getting the nutrition they need. And if your baby shows any symptoms such as lethargy, not waking up to feed, or is not having wet diapers, seek medical attention right away.
As you work with a doctor—and perhaps a lactation consultant as well—here are some tips for increasing breast milk supply that might help.
#1: Increase Demand
Breastfeeding is a game of supply and demand, according to KellyMom. When your baby starts nursing more frequently or for longer stretches of time, your body will respond by making more milk.
If you’re concerned you’re not making enough milk for your baby, you can encourage your body to increase supply by nursing more frequently. Try adding one more feeding into your day or nursing for a few extra minutes each time your feed your baby.
If you are pumping through the day, you may also need to increase pumping sessions or add another pumping sessions. Ideally, you should pump as often as your baby is eating while you are apart to maintain milk supply.
And if you aren’t getting the time you need to pump while you’re at work, be sure you’re aware of what rights you have as a pumping mom at work and talk to your employers if your supply is suffering. Your right to nurse your baby is legally protected.
For moms who are already pumping a lot through the day, it may also be worthwhile to look into investing in a wireless or hands-free pumping to make pumping more convenient. That way, you can maximize time pumping in places you normally wouldn’t, like the car, on your commute, or even while taking a walk.
“Tip #1: Add nursing or pumping sessions to boost supply.”
Wireless Hands-Free Pump
The Willow Breast Pump is a hands free, wireless, double electric breast pump that allows for flexibility when you pump--you can even pump while laying down. Made to be discreet, it fits directly into a wearer's bra or nursing tank and pumps quietly, with no wires or tubes. It can be used with disposable milk bags that fit directly into the pump or with reusable milk containers that you fit directly into the pump. The containers and some pumping components are dishwasher-safe. You can choose your flange size and use the free Willow app to help you get started with the pump and control it remotely, all while monitoring your milk production without having to look down your shirt. We give this pump 2 thumbs up (because our hands are totally free to do so now, even pumping!)
Wireless Wearable Breast Pump
The Elvie breast pump is a wearable, hands free, and completely wireless breast pump that has revolutionized the pumping game. For full-time or exclusively pumping moms, it can give a freedom like never seen before. Truly Mama's Elvie pump users swear the pump changed their lives for the better and allowed them to pump full-time just when they were about to give up. It's battery-powered, rechargeable, and easy-to-use and operate. While it is an investment, the pump is covered by some insurances (check with yours to confirm) and is HSA and FSA eligible.Read Review
#2 Stay Hydrated
Dehydration is one of the top culprits of a decreased milk supply. When you’re nursing, you not only need to eat enough food to help your body produce enough milk, but you also need to drink enough water as well.
Get in the habit of constantly sipping water and stash water bottles around the house or at work to make staying hydrated more simple too.
“Tip #2: Drink all the water, all the time.”
Iron Flask Sports Water Bottle
Truly Mama writer and mom of three Mandy Lange is a big fan of this stainless steel water bottle. It comes in several ounces (honestly, the bigger the better, so yo udon't have to refill as often) and has three lids you can swap out. We personally love the straw lid, which makes sippin' one-handed or in between diaper changes super easy. The Iron Flask is made of 18/8 stainless steel and is 100% BPA free and non-toxic. However, you do need to hand-wash it, so maybe leave that one to your partner. Hey, breastfeeding is a team effort, right?
#3: Get Hands-On
Researchers believe that emptying the breasts is one of the most important habits to establishing, maintaining, or increasing milk output.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is using something called hands-on pumping, according to a study published in the Journal of Perinatology. Mothers in this study who used a hands-free bra to pump and then used their hands to perform breast massages pumped more milk overall, even when they spent less time pumping than the other study participants.
Breast massages aren’t exclusive to pumping moms. Gently sandwiching the breast between each hand and massaging toward the nipple before beginning to nurse can stimulate milk production and encourage let down.
These massages can be repeated throughout a feeding to assist your baby in emptying your breast and to trigger further milk production.
“Tip #3: Add a breast massage while pumping or feeding."
Hands-Free Nursing Bra
Bravado Designs Buttercup Nursing Bra
This style has clip-down cups that you can easily unfasten one-handed, which comes in handy when you’re holding a hungry baby. Plus, this style allows for easy access and skin-to-skin contact for your baby while feeding. This particular bra is also quite comfortable and versatile. You can wear it under T-shirts, blouses, to work, or out with friends. The soft gel cups also provide comfort and support while giving the bra definition and shape.
LaVie Lactation Massager
One of the best ways to break up a clogged duct is to massage the area and use a hot compress on it. That can be time-consuming and tedious, however, and this lactation massager can help manually break up the clot instead. And it’s waterproof, so you can use it in the shower while letting hot water help release the area even more.
#4 Take a Deep Breath
Taking time to relax might be the last thing on your mind as a new mom, but caring for yourself is an important part of maintaining a healthy milk supply. Stress can trigger a hormone called cortisol.
Unfortunately, this hormone can be detrimental to milk production. So, whenever possible, find ways to reduce your stress and relax. As a bonus, brew a cup of caffeine-free tea filled with milk-boosting ingredients like fennel, anise, fenugreek, and blessed thistle.
Circumstances can’t always be controlled, but exercises like deep breathing and guided meditation can help reduce the stress you feel and calm your body so it can better perform its job of nourishing your little one.
“Tip #4: Manage stress (and try to lower it).”
Brew a Relaxing Spot `o Tea
Traditional Medicinals Mothers Milk Tea
Moms have been drinking the Traditional Medicinals Mothers Milk Tea for over 40 years for extra support during the breastfeeding journey. This tea was created to promote healthy lactation and is made with a blend of fennel, anise, fenugreek, blessed thistle, and other herbs and teas. Each box of tea contains 16 bags of organic, caffeine-free tea. This popular and affordable herbal tea can be bought by the box in most grocery stores or ordered in bulk quantities online. This tea has a licorice taste and is slightly sweet, even though it doesn’t contain sugar or stevia.
#5 Power Pump
When my first baby was born, my milk was slow to come in and my daughter was lost weight quickly. The lactation consultants at her pediatrician’s office suggested I try power pumping. This is another way to tell your body to make more milk, quickly. Even if you’re a regular pumper, this can be useful to help give your milk supply a quick boost.
Power pumping requires an hour of uninterrupted time, so plan to do this during a nap or when your partner is around to help out.
Get comfortable and pump for ten minutes on and ten minutes off for a full 60 minutes. This can be repeated for several days in a row.
“Tip #5: Power pump (pump for 10 minutes on and off for 1 hour)."
Spectra S1 Plus Electric Breast Pump Hospital Strength
The Spectra is one of the #1 hospital grade breast pumps chosen by pumping parents for a few reasons: it's incredibly powerful, it's covered by almost all insurance plans, and it's easy to use. You can customize your own settings and save them once you establish a pumping pattern that works for you and thanks to a closed system, safety and cleaning is a breeze. The rechargeable battery is built right into the unit, which makes charging and taking it places a breeze and it's lightweight to boot. The Spectra S1 comes with: the pump, a 12 volt AC power adapter, detachable power cord prongs, wide neck bottle, back flow protector, Spectra duckbill valve, tubing, and two different flange sizes (24mm & 28mm).
#6 Take a Nursing Vacation
A nursing vacation is a vacation from other distractions to focus on nursing for a day or two to increase milk supply. This can be a sweet time to connect with your baby and get some extra rest.
We suggest finding a good audiobook to listen to or starting a new show, getting help with any other kids in the house, and canceling plans outside the home for a few days.
Stock up on foods that are a part of a healthy breastfeeding diet. Then, nurse frequently for 24 to 48 hours. Practice good nursing habits, like breast massage and encouraging your baby to eat for an extended stretch of time instead of short snacks since emptying your breasts can encourage your body to produce more milk.
“Tip #6: Give yourself a nursing vacation to do nothing but nurse your baby for a few days."
Milkmakers Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies
The Milkmakers Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies are packed with vitamins, minerals, and key ingredients to support mama's through breast feeding.
In the end, keep in mind that while there are some ways you can help increase milk supply by ensuring your own health is taken care of, it’s also very true that some women produce less milk than others.
So if you happen to be one of those women, don’t beat yourself up! We’re all different and what’s most important is keeping yourself—and your baby—healthy and happy, no matter which type of feeding is right for you both.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I increase my breast milk supply?
The easiest way to increase milk supply is to nurse more. Typically, your body will make more milk if the demand for milk increases. Also be sure to work with a doctor to ensure you and your baby’s health.
What foods help produce breast milk?
Eating galactagogues, or foods that increase milk supply, might help improve milk output. These foods include fennel seeds and oatmeal.
How can I increase my breast milk supply naturally?
The most natural way to increase milk supply is to take care of yourself and breastfeed your baby often. Get plenty of sleep, reduce stress, and eat enough food, including oatmeal or fennel seed tea, to help milk production too.
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