Are you struggling with a low milk supply? It’s a common breastfeeding problem that many new moms face, but it can be frustrating and stressful when you’re trying to provide enough milk for your little one. Some moms feel desperate so they consider ending their breastfeeding journey earlier than they would have liked!
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to increase milk supply quickly and effectively!
In this article, I’ll cover some tips and tricks to show you how to increase milk supply quickly and ensure that your baby is getting all the milk they need.
First, it’s important to understand that breast milk supply is based on demand and supply. The more milk your baby demands, the more breast milk your body will produce. So, one of the best ways to increase breast milk production is to breastfeed or pump frequently.
In the first few weeks after giving birth, it’s especially important to breastfeed as often as possible to establish a good milk supply. If you’re exclusively pumping, aim for at least 8-12 pumping sessions per day to keep your milk flowing.
How to increase milk supply quickly
In addition to frequent breastfeeding or pumping, there are plenty of other things you can do to increase your milk supply. I’ll cover them in more detail but here is a brief list:
Breast massage and breast compressions can help to stimulate milk flow and ensure that your breasts are fully emptied at each feeding.
Drinking plenty of water and maintaining a well-balanced diet can also positively affect increase breast milk supply too.
Lactation teas and supplements like blessed thistle can possibly help to boost milk production.
By incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you can quickly increase your milk supply and continue on your breastfeeding journey with confidence.
Understanding milk production
What is milk production?
Milk production is the process by which your body makes breast milk to feed your baby. It starts during pregnancy when your body begins to produce colostrum, a nutrient-rich liquid that is the first milk your baby will receive.
After your baby is born, your milk supply will increase as your body adjusts to your baby’s feeding needs. Milk production is a supply-and-demand process, which means that the more you breastfeed or pump, the more milk your body will produce.
The role of hormones in milk production
Hormones play a crucial role in milk production.
Prolactin is the hormone responsible for milk production.
Oxytocin is the hormone that causes the milk to flow.
When your baby suckles at your breast, he/she stimulates the release of prolactin, which signals your body to produce more milk. Oxytocin is then released, causing the milk to flow. This is known as the let-down reflex.
Recognizing low milk supply
Baby not gaining weight or is losing more than 10% of birth weight by day 10.
Not enough dirty or wet diapers – this can change depending on the age ofyour baby.
Baby seems fussy or unsatisfied after feedings
Breasts feel empty or don’t feel full anymore
Remember, milk production is a supply-and-demand process. The more your baby nurses or you pump, the more milk your body will produce. By understanding how breast milk production really works and recognizing the signs of low milk supply, you can take steps to increase your milk supply and ensure that your baby is getting enough breast milk.
Increasing milk supply naturally
First and foremost, make sure that your baby is latching properly. A good latch ensures that your baby is happy at the breast and is in the best possible position to drink as much milk as possible. This in turn stimulates milk production. If you’re not sure if your baby is latching properly, consult with a lactation consultant.
Here’s a quick checklist:
Make sure your baby’s mouth is opened wide, like a yawn, before latching onto the breast.
The baby’s mouth should be positioned asymmetrically on the breast, with more of the areola visible above the baby’s upper lip and less visible below the lower lip.
Your baby’s lips should be flanged outward, forming a seal around the breast. The lips should not be tucked in or pursed.
The baby’s chin should be touching the breast, with their nose free or barely touching the breast, allowing them to breathe easily.
Your nipple should be positioned comfortably in the baby’s mouth, far back against the soft palate, avoiding friction or compression. A good latch should not cause pain.
You should observe your baby’s rhythmic sucking and swallowing pattern, with pauses to breathe. This indicates effective milk transfer.
Your baby’s cheeks should appear full and rounded while nursing, not hollow or dimpled.
You may hear or see your baby swallowing as they feed, which can be a sign of effective milk transfer.
After feeding, your baby should appear content and satisfied, releasing the breast on their own or becoming drowsy.
You can also try switching sides frequently during a feeding session. This will help to stimulate milk production in both breasts.
Skin to skin contact
Frequent skin-to-skin contact with your baby can help to increase milk production:
Stimulates the release of hormones, particularly oxytocin and prolactin.
Relaxation and stress reduction.
Enhanced bonding for mother and baby
Encourages babies to exhibit their innate breastfeeding instincts, helping them find the breast and latch on more effectively.
Regulates your baby’s body temperature, which can conserve their energy.
Massaging your breasts can help to increase milk flow and stimulate milk production. You can massage your breasts before and during feeding sessions. Use gentle circular motions and work your way toward the nipple.
You may find that gentle massage can help reduce the discomfort of engorgement too.
Breast compressions can also help to increase milk flow and stimulate milk production. To do breast compressions, use your hand to compress your breast gently while your baby is feeding.
Relaxation and self-care
Stress can interfere with milk production, so it’s important to take care of yourself and reduce stress as much as possible. Get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet, and stay hydrated. You can also try relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation.
Check out my post: 13 Self-Care Ideas for Moms: Top Tips for Daily Relaxation
Eating a well-balanced diet is important for increased breast milk production. Make sure you’re getting enough calories, protein, and healthy fats. Some foods that may help increase milk supply include:
It’s also important to stay hydrated, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Galactagogues are substances that are believed to increase breast milk supply. Here’s a list of some examples:
Always seek medical advice before adding new foods or supplements to your diet when breastfeeding.
Staying hydrated is important to ensure you have enough breast milk. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Keep a water bottle with you at all times to help remind you to drink.
Use of breast pump
Using a breast pump helps increase milk production by stimulating your breasts more frequently, signaling to your body to produce more milk in response to increased demand. A breast pump is definitely an essential piece of a breastfeeding kit! Choose a breast pump that works well for you – you may want a wearable hands free one plus a manual pump for example.
Establishing a regular pumping schedule can also help so try to pump at least every 2-3 hours during the day and once or twice at night. Make sure you’re using the correct size breast shields. Pumped milk can then be given to your baby via a bottle when you are not available to breastfeed.
Check out my post: 16 Breastfeeding essentials: Must-have products for your nursing journey
Power pumping is a technique that involves using a breast pump to express milk from your breasts for short periods of time, taking breaks, and then pumping again. Many women find they have an increased milk supply power pumping.
Follow these power-pumping session steps:
Pump for 20 minutes.
Take a 10-minute break.
Pump for 10 minutes.
Take another 10-minute break.
Pump for another 10 minutes.
You could power pump once a day for a few days in a row to see results. Make sure you’re using a high-quality breast pump to get the most milk out of your breasts.
There are several prescription medications that can help increase your milk supply. These medications work by increasing your levels of prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production.
However, these medications should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Other medications may negatively affect milk supply.
Most women prefer to use natural techniques to increase breastmilk supply before turning to pharmaceuticals.
Some common medications include:
Another breastfeeding essential piece of kit is the nipple shield. They are thin, silicone covers that fit over your nipple and areola.
They can help with latch issues and sore nipples, which can ultimately lead to an increase in milk supply. However, nipple shields should only be used sparingly – fixing latch issues should be a priority if you find you need a nipple shield to protect sore nipples or are allowing a nipple fissure to heal.
Consult a Board Certified Lactation Consultant
If you are concerned about your milk supply, it is important to speak with a lactation consultant or healthcare provider. They can help you determine if there is an issue and provide guidance on how to increase your milk supply. With the right support and guidance, you can increase your milk supply and provide your baby with the nourishment they need.
Key factors that affect milk production
|Infrequent nursing or pumping
|If you’re not nursing or pumping frequently enough, your body may not be getting the signals it needs to produce enough milk.
Aim to nurse or pump at least 8-12 times per day in the early weeks after birth, and continue to nurse or pump frequently as your baby grows. You may find using a double electric breast pump with a hands free pumping bra can help.
Remember you can store your breast milk safely in the freezer.
|How to Organize Frozen Breast Milk in Your Freezer – 10 Expert Tips
| Stress can have a major impact on your milk supply. When you’re stressed, your body produces cortisol, a hormone that can interfere with milk production.
painful nipples can be a big factor – take steps to improve latch and treat nipples with nipple cream.
Try to find ways to reduce stress in your life, such as practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.I published a book specifically for women who struggle with anxiety (find the link opposite). With this book, you’ll receive a 365-day journal to track your experiences, coping skills and strategies for managing anxiety, plus space to create personalized action plans to address your triggers.
|Find The Courage To Be Anxiety Free: Coping skills and tips for women for a positive mindset plus 365-day anxiety and mental health action planner journal
|Dehydration and poor nutrition
|Dehydration and poor nutrition can also affect your milk supply. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day and eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.
My meal planner book will help you plan healthy meals for you and your family to keep you on track.
|Plan Save Eat: A 6 month family meal planning notebook for busy mums on a budget
|A poor latch can also contribute to low milk supply. If your baby isn’t latching properly, you decrease milk supply because he or she may not be able to effectively remove milk from your breasts. Work with a lactation consultant or your healthcare provider to ensure that your baby is latching correctly.
|16 of the Best Breastfeeding Tips for Newborns: Master the Art of the Boob
|Illness or infection
|Illness or infection can also affect your milk supply. If you’re feeling sick, make sure you’re getting plenty of rest and fluids. If you’re concerned about a specific illness or infection, talk to your healthcare provider.
Mastitis (from blocked milk ducts) is no joke when you are trying to breastfeed your baby! Seek medical advice quickly and learn to spot the signs.
|Engorgement vs Mastitis: Understanding the difference
|Hormonal imbalances can also contribute to low milk supply. If you’re experiencing irregular periods or other hormonal issues, talk to your healthcare provider about possible treatment options.
|Is spotting while breastfeeding normal? Here’s what you need to know
|Smoking and alcohol consumption
|Smoking and alcohol consumption can also negatively affect your milk supply. If you’re a smoker, consider quitting or cutting back. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation and wait at least 2-3 hours before nursing or pumping.
|Free Breastfeeding and alcohol calculator
By understanding these key factors, you can take steps to support your milk production and ensure that your baby is getting the nourishment he or she needs.
Increasing milk supply quickly can be a challenging and frustrating experience for many new mothers. However, there are several effective strategies you can use to boost your milk production and increase supply more quickly and efficiently.
First and foremost, the best strategy is to make sure you are nursing or pumping frequently.
The more you stimulate your breasts, the more milk your body will produce.
It’s important to remember that every woman’s body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. If you’re struggling to increase your milk supply, don’t hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant or other healthcare provider for support and guidance.
Finally, be patient and kind to yourself. Successful breastfeeding can be a challenging and emotional journey, but with the right support and resources, you can provide your baby with the nourishment they need to thrive. Remember to take care of yourself as well, both physically and emotionally, and don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it.
I distinctly remember being worried about having enough milk to feed both of my babies. I wasn’t aware that my milk wouldn’t fully ‘come in’ until 2 days after the birth (colostrum is first and in tiny amounts). I certainly knew about it when it did – oooph the engorgement ache! My first was a hungry baby (over 10lbs at birth!) so I needed to keep up with her by drinking lots of water and eating a very healthy diet. My wonderful husband rushed out and got me a breast pump – not the best and I soon upgraded.
Note: pregnant moms – do your research now and get a pump before the baby arrives!!
My second had a problem swallowing so I had to feed him every hour or so poor little love! He needed to be fed through a nasogastric tube for a short time so my pumping schedule skyrocketed!
Every baby is different but your body is designed to feed – give yourself a helping hand and take steps to optimize your health for milk production.
Have questions? I have answers.
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