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You know you need to get a good latch, breastfeed often and drink enough water. You’ve done all those things and the magic still hasn’t happened. Well, if you want to know proven ways to increase milk supply, I’ve got them!
In this post, I discuss;
3 ways to use your breast pump (and pumping in general) to boost your milk supply.
3 foods that help you produce more milk
5 of the best milk supply supplements that help increase milk supply and overall health
3 essential oils that can help boost milk supply naturally, and
Acupuncture! A way to increase milk supply that is supported by research but is really not discussed a lot.
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.
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? Are you looking for natural ways to increase milk supply?
Maybe your baby is gaining just fine on your milk. But you want to produce more so you can build a good freezer stash or you had a nasty bout of food poisoning and it has 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.
A great place to start is to figure out why your milk production is not at the level you want it to be.
Causes of Low Milk Supply
The most common causes of low milk supply are:
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS
PCOS is a set of symptoms related to a hormonal imbalance. Symptoms include irregular menstrual periods (or no periods at all), high levels of androgens (a type of male sex hormone) or signs of high androgens, such as having excess body or facial hair, and abnormal growths on one or both ovaries. The NICHD has a lot of information on this condition here. Basically, since women with PCOS often have high levels of male sex hormones, this makes it more difficult for them to produce breast milk. The hormonal imbalance itself is often caused or associated with Insulin Resistance.
The Thyroid, a gland in the front of our necks makes certain hormones that help with breast milk supply. Anything that causes the Thyroid to be overactive (Hyperthyroidism) or underactive (Hypothyroidism) will affect milk supply.
Type-2 diabetes is a condition where the body is not able to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar. It can be caused by insulin resistance – where the body is not using the insulin produced effectively. A recent study showed that when a mother is insulin resistant, they have a particular gene which is linked with insufficient breast milk supply.
History of Breast Surgery
There is plenty to consider when you are breastfeeding after breast surgery. Different surgical procedures can have different effects, and its a good idea to plan ahead and speak with a lactation consultant about your specific need. This applies if you have had:
When a baby has 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 even realize her baby doesn’t have a strong suck. Initially their baby grows well. Eventually, her breasts may respond to the fact that they are not getting stimulated enough. And breast milk production declines.
Not enough feedings
The supply and demand thing is real! Similar to the ineffective suck, if a mom is not feeding frequently, her breasts will not be stimulated enough. This can lead to lower milk supply.
Insufficient glandular tissue of the breasts
In this case, there are just not enough of the cells that make breast 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 and there is often little to no breast growth during pregnancy
Beware of Low Breast 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.
There are many 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
As we often say on this blog, you are making enough milk if your baby’s weight gain is normal or average for his age. As your baby gets older the rate of weight gain slows down.
For A Good Milk Supply, Start with Breastfeeding Basics
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. If you need tips in this area, we have a great post here on great ways to get a better latch
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 WHILE FEEDING
Do breast compression when you start to hear your baby’s swallowing less frequently. Compressing your breast will help keep your breast milk flowing and 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.
15 Ways to Increase Milk Supply Naturally
Now for the good stuff. These are all natural ways to increase your breastmilk supply.
3-Ways To Use Pumping To Increase Milk Supply
This gets back to supply and demand. The more stimulation that your breasts get the more they should produce more milk.
Keep in mind when using pumping to increase milk supply, the key focus is baby. If you were not making enough breast 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 SOON AFTER BREASTFEEDING
Pumping soon after breastfeeding helps keep the milk-making hormone, prolactin, elevated. It tells your body to make more milk.
To make sure you do not take milk away from your baby’s next meal, try to pump within 15-20 minutes after the feeding ends.
The more times you do this the more breast milk you will make.
DO HANDS-ON PUMPING
Nothing too complex about this one. Breast massage and compression during pumping has been shown to increase milk production (Source).
DO SOME POWER PUMPING SESSIONS
This is a technique that involves pumping frequently over 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.