New mothers who choose to breastfeed their little ones are frequently concerned about the amount of breast milk that their bodies are producing.
They often worry that they aren’t producing enough to keep their baby fed, or they may be concerned because they need to develop a freezer supply of pumped breast milk so that their babies will have breast milk when they return to work.
There are many ways that you can increase the amount of breast milk that your body is producing so that you can rest easy knowing that you have plenty of milk available for your growing baby.
CREATE A BREASTFEEDING SNACK STATION.
When you are breastfeeding, it’s very important for you to eat and drink often. Unfortunately, as a new mom, you’ll probably more focused on caring for your infant than you are in caring for yourself.
But remember this is the one time in your life where you can definitively say that caring for yourself = caring for your infant.
Your body just can’t produce enough breast milk if you don’t have the calories and hydration necessary for the job in the tank.
Make sure that you are eating and drinking regularly. Some new moms find it helpful to carry a water bottle and a snack with them to help remind them to eat and drink.
Make sure you pack a bottle of water and a few snacks for yourself in the diaper bag too so that you can eat on the go.
GET ENOUGH REST
Don’t fast scroll past this one…
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “sleep while baby sleeps” right? Well, if you’ve got more than one, then you probably already know that it’s not always possible.
But did you know that taking a long nap can actually increase your supply on the next feed!
So if you CAN grab a nap while baby sleeps then skip the dishes this time and lay down guilt-free. Remember, if your struggling with milk production, then you need to consider sleeping as a priority.
Even if you have to enlist some help with an older child for an hour a day, remember that you need to make baby’s health a priority and that may require YOU getting a few extra z’s too.
If your body is running on empty and you are exhausted you are not going to produce as much milk as you could.
DO NOT NURSE ON DEMAND… wait… what?
Your body is designed to produce milk on a supply and demand basis, so most believe that the more often your baby nurses the more milk you are going to produce for them.
Despite that popular opinion, it’s actually more beneficial for your milks supply for baby to take a FULL feed in order to signal your body to produce more milk per session.
Getting and keeping baby on a nursing schedule will ultimately cue your body to produce the right amount of milk at the right time of day.
This one may make some people nervous… after all doesn’t baby know best about when he/she is hungry?
The simple answer is yes. But it’s a bit more complex than that.
When you first start creating your baby’s feeding schedule, you’ll notice that it’s very much like feeding on demand with only a few key changes!
The idea of feeding on a schedule really gets a bad rep, mainly because some people can get a little too rigid in their feed schedule.
A truly beneficial feeding schedule will incorporate many of the elements of demand feeding. Remember, babies change and grow quickly and that means, their feeding schedule changes frequently too.
As a mom, it will be important for you to continue watching for shortened or lengthened intervals between baby’s hungry times and adjust your schedule accordingly.
As far as results, I can personally vouch for this method. My daughter was fed on a schedule and I put a lot of focus into keeping her awake for full feeds.
With her, I had a great milk supply. And she developed very well.. at age 8, she’s well adjusted, in the gifted program at school, and has zero social-emotional issues (not that my daughter is a large enough test audience, but it’s made a believer out of me!)
Her brothers, who were demand fed, ended up on formula because my milk dried up early on and although they are both very smart, both struggle with social-emotional issues.
I hope to share my full story about this soon but in the meantime, check out Valerie Plowman’s post on this busting the demand feeding myth.
Pump After Nursing
Babies, especially newborns, have to be taught to take a full feed. That means, that they may not automatically empty your breast.
And if they do empty it but are still hungry, they may not continue to suk if they aren’t getting any milk.
But that continued sucking after your breast is dry is what tells your body to produce more at the next feed.
After your baby has finished nursing, use your breast pump, and pump for an additional ten to fifteen minutes even if your breasts are already empty.
After a few pumping sessions, you may begin noticing an increase in the amount of milk yielded. Even if baby doesn’t need the extra now, it’s always great to have a freezer stash in case of emergencies!
In addition to nursing after pumping, many moms like to add a power pumping session to their day.
Power pumping is when over the span of an hour you pump your breasts for 20 minutes, then take a 10-minute break, pump again for ten minutes, rest for ten minutes, and pump for another ten minutes.
Power pumping mimics cluster feeding when your baby is going through a growth spurt. Power pumping for a week should significantly increase your milk supply.
If you are already exclusively pumping you can try pumping more often or for longer periods of time for two to three days to experience the benefits of power pumping.
Consider Replacing your Pump Parts
For something that gets used and cleaned daily, it is still easy to forget to replace your pump parts.
Worn out valves, membranes, and tubing can significantly decrease the amount of milk you can get while pumping.
Valves and membranes should be replaced every 4 to 6 weeks, every 3 to 4 weeks if you exclusively pump, and tubing needs to be replaced every 2 to 3 months as well.
If you haven’t replaced your pump parts in a while, give it a try and you will be amazed at how much more milk you get from pumping.
Make or Buy Some Lactation Cookies
Lactation cookies are extremely easy to make, but you can also buy them at the grocery store or online.
Lactation cookies are made with milk boosting ingredients like oatmeal, brewer’s yeast, flaxseed, and brewer’s yeast.
They also usually have dark chocolate or peanut butter in them to help make them taste great.
You need to be snacking and lactation cookies are a great choice for that, some moms even enjoy their lactation cookies while they are pumping.
Consider Galactagogues Supplements
Supplements can increase milk production is as little as ONE PUMPING SESSION!
Of course, you should always speak to a doctor before taking milk stimulating supplements (or any supplements really.)
My favorite is this Herbal supplement by Motherlove because it includes several of the most helpful ingredients (and what new mom really has time to be testing out supplements… right?)
But if testing supplements if your cup of tea, these are a few of the brands that are best known for milk production:
Fenugreek by Puremom (includes milk thistle and fennel), *** (one of our top picks… just read the reviews and you’ll see why!)
Brewer’s yeast capsules by NUSApure, (In case you DON’T want to eat cookies… but who doesn’t want cookies?)
Blessed thistle also by Mama’s Select,
And last but not least: Alfalfa.
All of these supplements are recognized as safe for breastfeeding moms and can do wonders for your supply!
Talk to your Doc to get a script if absolutely necessary
When you’re breastfeeding, it’s important to keep things as natural as possible. but if you’ve tried everything you can think of and you’ve still be having production problems, try speaking to your doctor or your child’s pediatrician.
Go in to your appointment armed with information about what you’ve already tried so that they are aware that you’ve attempted to increase production naturally.
Also, if you are not interested in supplementing with formula, be prepared to tell them that.
This is the last resort before supplementation of course, but doctors will often prescribe Reglan for increasing production which is incredibly effective and deemed safe for you and baby.
TRIED IT ALL AN STILL STRUGGLING TO FILL BABY’S BELLY?
Every body is different and that means that sometimes, what works for others won’t work for you. Taking a more personalized approach might be a good idea.
Stacy Stewart from Milkology is a certified Lactation consultant and she offers some fantastic (and super affordable) online courses that help moms master their milk supply once and for all.
You can check out her available courses here.
Keep at it mama! You’re doing a great job.