Increasing Milk Supply
Breastfeeding is a supply and demand cycle. As long as you are emptying the breast frequently and fully, your body should continue to replace this milk based on what your baby needs. At times, you may notice a dip in your supply. This can be due to certain medications (oral contraceptives, cold medicines, etc.), menstrual cycle beginning, medical concerns, or not emptying the breast effectively. If you find yourself needing to increase your milk supply due to baby not getting enough, there are certain steps you can take to continue to nourish your baby efficiently.
Signs of decreasing milk supply can include a fussy baby at the breast, increase in feeds, decrease in wet diapers, or concentrated urine in diapers.
When feeding baby:
- Feed frequently-at least 8-12 times in 24 hours
- Dream feed (feed baby before you go to bed and try not to wake him)
- Offer both breasts at each feeding and ensure the first breast is fully emptied before offering the next breast
- Hold baby skin to skin as much as possible
- Massage breasts and apply heat prior to feeds (massage breast tissue and chest wall, not the nipple)
- Massage breasts during feeds to fully empty the breast
- Feed baby in a quiet place where you can feel relaxed and not rushed
- Use a hospital grade double electric pump if possible
- Hand express milk into pump collection containers after pumping to fully empty the breast
- Massage breasts and apply heat prior to pumping
- Massage breasts during pumping (You will needs a hands-free pumping bra)
- Pump frequently, even if it is for a short time
- Attempt to get more than one let down during a pumping session, even if that means stopping for 5 minutes and restarting
- Power pump: pump for 15 minutes every hour for 1-2 days, OR pump for 10 minutes, take a 10 minute break, pump for 10 minutes, then take a 10 minute break and repeat for a one hour block twice per day until you see an increase in your supply (this mimics cluster feeding)
- Look at a picture of baby or keep baby’s blanket/clothing near you
- Pump in a relaxing environment
- Try to reduce stress (I know, right?!)
- Increase fluid intake
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol
- Talk with your physician about possible medications or medical conditions that could be affecting your milk supply
- Lose weight slowly not quickly (It took 9 months to put on baby weight!)
- Avoid medications with phenylephrine, decongestants, certain herbs-sage, thyme, mint, and parsley
- Add to your diet: oatmeal, green leafy vegetables, Mother’s Milk tea, lactation cookies or brownies (tons of recipes on Pinterest) or unfiltered beer
It is completely normal for your breasts to not feel as full at times, but you are still producing a great amount of milk. This is a normal change in your body once it becomes accustomed to baby’s routine. Milk supply does not regulate until around 6-12 weeks, so be patient with your fluctuating body and continue to monitor your baby’s weight and output. As long as baby is gaining weight and has 6-8 wet diapers daily (after 1 week of age) he is getting enough and there is no need to stress. Your baby will always release more milk from your breasts than your pump, so don’t assume what you get out in pumping is what your baby is actually eating at each feeding.
Concerned about weight gain? You can check out healthy weight gain schedules here.
Welcome! I’m Brittany. I’m a mom of two toddlers living in Northwest Ohio with my husband, Chris, and our two cats, Simon and Oliver. I’m a labor and delivery nurse, and an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I love finding new ways that make parenting easier, while providing a fun learning atmosphere for my girls at the same time. In my blog you will find tips and tricks for dealing with pregnancy, labor, and parenthood. My favorite part about being a nurse (besides getting to welcome little miracles into the world, obviously) is being able to educate new Moms (and Dads) on how to care for their little ones at the very start. Parenthood is such a complex and exhausting journey that we need to have support from others who make us feel like we’re not alone. You are not alone here!