15+ Ways to Boost Milk Supply [An Expert's Guide]
Breastfeeding can be stressful sometimes especially if you see you’re not producing enough milk to satisfy your baby. Running out of milk before your baby is full might leave you wondering why you can’t provide more.
Different medical conditions, imbalanced hormones, or feeding your baby formula can result in lower milk supply.
Thankfully, there are many proven changes you can make to your diet or the way you nurse that can enhance your milk supply.
We’ve selected and fact-checked expert opinions on lactation and brought you a complete guide to increasing your milk supply.
Read on to get the best tips!
15+ Tips to Boost Milk Supply
#1. Nurse more often
The more your baby feeds, the more milk you will produce. That’s the most natural way to tell your body that you need to supply more milk to your newborn.
In the first months your baby needs to be fed every 2 to 3 hours. And you don’t have to be strict with the feeding schedule. If you see that your baby is hungry, feed it. This way your body indicates there is a constant demand and can increase your milk supply.
#2. Take supplements
Taking natural supplements like Pump It Up can always give you an extra boost with your milk supply.
The supplement is made of fennel, chamomile, motherwort and raspberry extract. This unique herbal blend will help you release milk faster and get an abundant supply of it.
The herbs will gently soothe your baby’s digesting system and relieve it from colics and gassiness. This way, your baby won’t have any discomfort, will feed more and sleep better.
The chamomile extract will help both you and your baby feel calmer and more relaxed while the rest of the ingredients will stimulate you to produce more milk.
#3. Maintain a healthy diet
While trying to feed your baby, don’t forget to feed yourself. Make sure you’re getting 400-500 extra calories to your recommended daily calorie intake. You should also stay hydrated and drink at least 13 cups of water a day.
And be mindful of what you put in your body. After pregnancy, you have fewer restrictions but you still have to make sure you're getting nutritious and healthy food. After all, that’s what you’ll pass through the milk directly to your baby.
So, avoid junk food, or foods that will give an unpleasant taste to your milk. Garlic, chili pepper, and chocolate can make your baby resistant to breastfeeding. And if you’re a coffee-lover, don’t drink more than 2 cups of coffee, or the caffeine can affect your baby. This way you’ll end up with a very energized baby that can’t fall asleep all night.
Stress is the number one culprit when it comes to decreasing milk supply. Being a new mom can be both stressful and exhausting. Taking care of your baby fully on your own without allowing yourself to recover can result in accumulated tiredness.
So when you feel like you need to take a break, catch some sleep, or have some alone-time, just do it. In such cases, ask your partner, a family member or a friend for some help so you can catch up on resting and get into a relaxed state of mind.
This way, you’ll improve both your health and your milk supply.
#5. Pump between feedings
When you add pumping to your regular nursing schedule, you stimulate the production of milk. Pumping between feedings or after them increases the frequency at which you empty your breasts.
Empty breasts are an indication for your body to make more milk. So, you should definitely consider using a breast pump if your baby missed a nursing or you still have milk after a breastfeeding session.
When you’re pumping, try to stay relaxed and think of nursing your baby to stimulate the milk release. Focusing your thoughts on your baby triggers the hormones responsible for milk production in your body.
#6. Breastfeed from both sides
When it’s time for nursing, you can try feeding your baby from both breasts. Start nursing on one side and wait for your baby to slow down nursing. Then you can hold your little one for 10 to 15 minutes without letting it fall asleep.
And after this small break, you can put your baby on the other breast. This way you get equal stimulation on both sides and your chances to produce more milk increase. But be mindful that you’re not overfeeding your baby.
If switching between breasts while nursing is inconvenient for you, you can also try using a double pump on your breasts. Pumping milk from both breasts simultaneously increases your milk supply and results in higher fat content in the milk.
#7. Use the skin-to-skin method
The skin-to-skin method, or kangaroo care, refers to the way you hold your baby when breastfeeding.
Strip your baby to its diaper and hold it against your bare chest. To get even cozier, just wrap the two of you in a soft blanket and prepare for a soothing nursing session.
That’s an effective way to calm your baby and encourage it to breastfeed more and longer. This, in turn, will help you make more milk.
#8. Keep your baby awake while breastfeeding
It’s normal for babies to be sleepy in the first few weeks after birth. But make sure they don’t drift off at the beginning of your nursing sessions.
This will decrease the amount of milk your baby is taking which results in you producing less milk.
To prevent this from happening, you can keep your baby awake by tickling gently or rubbing its feet. If that doesn’t help, you can move it from breast to breast, or take a little break in between to change its diaper.
#9. Make sure your baby has a good latch
If your baby is not latched on correctly this means it can’t take enough milk from you. In turn, more milk stays in your breasts and your production falls drastically.
To improve your baby’s latch, try holding it in different positions while breastfeeding to find the one that works for both of you.
But if you experience pain while your baby is breastfeeding and nothing really works, you can always talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant.
The moment you get a good latch, your baby will be able to have as much milk as it wants and this will stimulate your milk supply.
#10. Avoid using nipple shields
There are cases when nipple shields come in handy. If the baby is premature or has incorrect latching, these can help you to breastfeed. But they’re used as a short-term solution if nothing else works to encourage your baby to latch and get fed.
If you use them for longer, they can slow down the flow of milk and reduce the stimulation you get from direct contact with your baby. So, keep things natural and avoid using nipple shields if there’s no need for them.
#11. Avoid using pacifiers and bottles
Sometimes you’re away and your baby might need a pacifier or a bottle of warm milk to calm down. Try to avoid such substitutes as much as possible.
A pacifier, for example, can spoil your baby’s proper latch.
And thanks to gravity, bottles make for a much easier version of breastfeeding. So, once your baby discovers the bottle, it might reduce the time spent nursing.
Both pacifiers and bottles work against your milk production. They discourage the little ones from spending time nursing and mess with their latch. That, in turn, makes it harder for you to supply what your baby needs.
#12. Avoid formula supplements
Since formulas are artificially enriched, they’re much more filling. If your baby takes a formula as a substitute to 1-2 breastfeedings, that means there is less demand for milk. Also, the formula might make your baby lose interest in breast milk. And your milk supply starts decreasing.
However, if your doctor puts your baby on formula and recommends you stick to it, you have no other choice but to do what’s best for your baby. In such cases, you can try to use a pump as a substitute for nursing, even though you won’t get the same stimulation as you would by directly breastfeeding your baby.
#13. Massage your breasts
When you’re massaging your breasts, you’re stimulating the flow of milk. And you also prevent the formation of any clogs in the breasts which can, later on, lead to infection.
So, the massage is good not only for boosting the milk supply but also for your health. To achieve optimal results, massage your breasts every day with firm circular movements without causing pain in the area.
#14. Use breast compressions
You can also use breast compressions to stimulate the milk flow while nursing or pumping.
To properly compress your breast, put the thumb of your hand on one side of it, your fingers on the other, and then squeeze.
Only compress when you feel your breasts are not as full but still have some milk. This helps you to fully empty your breasts and is really useful if your little one has trouble getting to your last drops of milk.
#15. Use power pumping
If the regular pumping in between feedings doesn’t work for you, try power pumping. That’s when you pump for about 15-20 minutes, take a 10-minute break, pump for 10 more minutes, then a break, and then pump again. Repeat power pumping 2-3 times daily.
This signals your body to produce more milk practically for the whole day. And your milk supply will go up very soon. Before starting your power pumping day, make sure you eat well and stay hydrated because making milk intensively can be exhausting.
#16. Use herbs
There are lots of herbs that can naturally boost your milk supply and many moms report positive results when referring to herbal teas and extracts.
Here are some of the most effective ones:
- Fennel has been used to increase milk supply for centuries. That’s because it is known for its estrogenic effect. You can take fennel in the form of tea, seeds, extract, and capsules.
- Milk thistle boosts your milk supply and helps you reduce the toxins levels in your blood and milk. But don’t take more than the recommended dose since that might be harmful to your baby.
- Blessed thistle can improve your milk supply, hormonal balance, and digestion during breastfeeding. You’ll see optimal results if you combine taking blessed thistle with active pumping and breast stimulation.
- Fenugreek will stimulate your milk supply as fast as 24 to 72 hours after you start taking it. But for some that might take longer. No matter how fast the progress is, studies have proven that fenugreek is both an effective milk supply stimulant and safe for your baby.
Finding what works for you and boosting your milk supply won’t happen overnight. You should find the tips and tricks that work best for you and your baby.
Meanwhile, try to stay calm and relaxed so you can make the best out of this first bonding experience with your little one!
If the problem still persists, consult your doctor or a lactation specialist.
Stay healthy and strong!