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15 NATURAL WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR MILK SUPPLY
Do you worry about how much milk you are making for your baby? Do you have a low milk supply and have to supplement with formula?
Maybe your baby is gaining just fine on your milk, but you want to make more to build a good freezer stash. Perhaps you had a nasty bout of food poisoning and that caused your milk supply to drop.
Whatever the reason, if you are a mama who wants to make more milk you want to know what will really help increase your milk supply.
You feel like you hear the same advice. You know you need to get a good latch, breastfeed often and drink lots of water. You’ve done all those things and the magic still hasn’t happened.
You want to know what the secrets are to make more milk. I’ve got them!
These methods I will share with you are proven. I have seen them work again and again over the 25 years that I have been working with breastfeeding mamas. Mamas just like you.
Causes of Low Milk Supply
The most common causes of low milk supply are:
- Hormonal imbalance
- Thyroid problems
- History of breast surgery
- Breast reduction
- Breast augmentation
- Breast Lift
- Baby with an ineffective suck – they don’t provide enough stimulation to your breasts
- A mom with a good milk supply and strong let-down may not realize her baby doesn’t have a strong suck. Initially their baby grows well. Her breasts eventually respond to the fact that they are not getting stimulated enough. Milk production declines.
- Not enough feedings – the supply and demand thing is real
- Insufficient glandular tissue of the breasts – there are just not enough of the cells that make milk
- This is not about small breasts
- Breasts with insufficient glandular tissue often lack roundness and may have an odd shape
- One breast may look very different than the other
- There is often little to no breast growth during pregnancy
Beware of Low Milk Supply Mistaken Identity
Have you ever heard of perceived low milk supply? That is when a mom thinks her supply is low, but it really isn’t. This can happen when she plays the comparison game. It’s particularly a hazard when comparing a breastfed baby’s behavior to a formula fed baby.
Things that can make you think you have a low milk supply
- No let-down sensation
- Breasts feel softer after a few months
- You can’t pump as much as you used to
- You can’t pump as much as others
- Your baby is eating more than usual, possibly because of a growth spurt
- Your baby eats more frequently than other babies you know
You are making enough milk
Breastfeeding Basics For a Good Milk Supply
This is not a secret. But it is something that you need to double check.
- Get a Good Latch. This is going to result in your baby getting more of the milk that is in your breasts. It is also going to make breastfeeding more comfortable for you.
- Breastfeed More Often. If you have a baby that will latch whenever you offer your breast, take advantage of that.
- Breastfeed Longer. This sounds simple enough. Unless you are not making enough milk. Then it can be hard to keep your baby at your breast long enough to stimulate increased milk production.
Do breast compression when the frequency of swallowing slows down. This can help keep your baby interested and feeding longer.
It is just what it sounds like. You compress the breast to help get the milk out. This can help the baby with a weak suck. It’s also effective if you have a baby who wants you to do most of the work.
Now for the good stuff. These are natural ways to increase your breastmilk supply.
3 Ways Pumping Can Increase Milk Supply
This gets back to supply and demand. The more stimulation that your breasts get the more they should make milk.
If you weren’t making enough milk and had to supplement with formula you may not see more milk when you pump. What you may see is that your baby takes less formula. He may also keep taking the same amount of formula but starts gaining more weight. You can usually decrease how much formula you are giving when your baby starts gaining at an average rate. Check with a lactation consultant or your baby’s health care provider.
Pump After Breastfeeding
Make sure you don’t take milk away from your baby’s next meal by pumping within 15-20 minutes after the feeding ends.
The more times you do this the more milk you will make.
Breast massage and compression during pumping has been shown to increase milk production (Source).
This is a technique of pumping frequently for a period of time. It is that supply and demand thing again.
There are a few different techniques for power pumping.
- Pump for 10 min, rest for 15. Repeat for 4 cycles.
- Watch a TV show and pump during the commercials.
- Pump for 5-10 min every hour for 4 hours.
3 Foods That Help You Make More Milk
- Oatmeal (try overnight oats to save time)
- Energy bites
- Put some in a smoothie
- Dates (Source)
- By themselves
- Mixed with oats in an energy ball
- Brewer’s Yeast
- In muffins
- Add to smoothies
5 Best Milk Supply Supplements
Mothers have been using herbs to increase milk supply for thousands of years. There is increasing research to support the use of herbs for increasing milk supply (Source).
Most herbs can be taken either in a tincture or in capsules. They can also be drank as a tea.
There are also blends of herbs.
3 Essential Oils to Increase Milk Supply
Research has supported acupuncture as being and effective way to increase milk supply (Source).
Acupuncture is something I often recommend to moms trying to make more milk. Most of the moms who I have worked with who tried it saw good results.
Final Thoughts on Increasing Your Milk Supply Naturally
There are many ways to increase your milk supply.
Let me know which ones you tried and how it worked.
If you are concerned about your baby’s weight gain I would encourage you to work with your baby’s health care provider and a lactation consultant.
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15 Natural Ways to Increase Your Milk Supply
Andrea Tran RN, MA, IBCLC
Andrea has been working with new families as an RN for over 35 years and a Lactation Consultant for over 25 years.
She has her MA in Health and Wellness with a focus in Lactation.