At some point during breastfeeding or pumping journey, most of us looks for natural ways to produce more breast milk. Try these tips to maximize your breast milk supply naturally.
Breastfeeding offers tremendous benefits to both mom and baby, and is one of the best bonding experiences that you can have with your baby. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding (i.e. no other fluids or solids) for six months and then continued breastfeeding combined with solid foods for 2 years or as long as mother and baby desire.
According to a 2013 study in Pediatrics, as many as 60 percent of women give up on breastfeeding earlier than they want to. One of the main reasons, among others, for giving up breastfeeding early is NOT producing enough breast milk (1).
The causes of low milk supply vary from hormonal imbalance, to an incorrect latch. Lactation consultants are able to help with these issues when you are breastfeeding in the first few days.
Sometimes, when you have successfully established your breastfeeding relationship with your baby, suddenly your milk supply drops.
Many women give up at this point, but you don’t have to!
When my little one was small, we had a more than one breastfeeding struggles- including jaundice, yeast infection and thrush because he was on antibiotics for a week at the hospital. In addition to this, I had a cracked nipple around sixth week of his life. All of this contributed to a low milk supply.
With subsequent google searching on how to increase milk supply and applying what I have read, my milk supply was up to the mark and my little one was happily gulping his meal again.
So, without further ado, here are 17 natural ways to produce more breast milk;
- How to Increase Milk Supply – Basics
- 1. Breastfeed, Breastfeed and Breastfeed
- 2. Nurse Efficiently
- 3. Do not Limit Feeding Session
- 4. Offer Both Breast at each Feeding
- 5. Avoid Pacifier and Bottle
- 6. Get Enough Sleep and Relax
- 7. Try to Keep Your Baby Awake during Feedings
- Natural ways to Produce More Breast Milk
- 8. Stay Hydrated
- 9. Keep yourself Warm
- 10. Try Switch Nursing
- 11. Feed on Demand
- 12. Eat a Healthy Diet
- 13. Try Lactation Teas
- 14. Try Lactation Cookies
- 15. Take Galactagogues Herbs
- How to Produce More Breast Milk using Breast pump?
- Can you take a prescription drug to boost your milk Supply?
- How can I increase my milk supply during my period?
- How long does it take to increase milk supply?
- Final Thoughts
- How About you?
- Still Looking for Breastfeeding Help?
How to Increase Milk Supply – Basics
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While most of us know basics of breastfeeding, it is still the core of demand and supply cycle of breastfeeding relationship. Make sure to follow suggestion below.
1. Breastfeed, Breastfeed and Breastfeed
True timeless remedy!! Can’t stress this enough. There is nothing that can increase your milk supply other than your baby’s suckling. The more you feed your baby (demand), the more you are signaling your body to make more breast milk(supply).
It’s okay if your breast does not feel full. Offer your breast to your baby whenever you can, or he is hungry. Your baby’s sucking relax will help stimulate the production of more milk as you go.
When you breastfeed, go skin-to-skin. It will help breast milk to flow freely by releasing hormone called oxytocin.
2. Nurse Efficiently
Make sure your baby nurses efficiently. If your baby can’t efficiently drain the breast, it may cause drop in your milk supply as the breast isn’t stimulated enough.
Check your baby’s latch. It could be the reason of low milk supply. If you are concerned about your baby’s latch, get a help from lactation consultant. Also, check out for any anatomical issues such as tongue tie, flat nipples or inverted nipple, that are preventing a good latch from a baby.
3. Do not Limit Feeding Session
If you are struggling with your milk supply, do not limit feeding session. Let your baby nurse as long as he desires. The more time your baby spent at breast, more stimulation your breasts are getting.
If your baby falls asleep or loses interest, switch breast 2-3 times each feeding.
4. Offer Both Breast at each Feeding
If you think your baby is not draining the breast well, offer both breast at each nursing session. You just want to be sure to alternate the breast you start breastfeeding on each time you feed your baby since the first breast usually gets more stimulation.
Breastfeeding on both sides will help to stimulate the production of breast milk.
5. Avoid Pacifier and Bottle
If you give Pacifier and Bottles to your baby, he may not nurse as frequently as he would without one. Pacifiers or bottles reduces baby’s hunger.
6. Get Enough Sleep and Relax
It is hard when you have a baby but try to sleep when baby is sleeping and relax as much as you can. If you are relaxed and calm, you will produce more milk and will have a better letdown.
When you need to rest, ask for a help from your partner or relatives. Or you can hire a babysitter for few hours a week.
7. Try to Keep Your Baby Awake during Feedings
Newborns are drowsy and sleepy during the first few weeks of life. You want to make sure to keep her awake and actively sucking during nursing.
To keep sleepy baby nursing, try changing her diaper, rubbing her feet, burping her or undressing her. If your baby is awake and actively sucking, she will get enough to eat, and your body will get the stimulation to create a healthy supply of breast milk.
Related reading: How to Increase Milk Supply for Breastfeeding: Natural Remedies
Natural ways to Produce More Breast Milk
8. Stay Hydrated
It maybe hard to stay hydrated when you are busy with your newborn. But it is absolutely necessary to find a time to drink. Breastfeeding mother should drink around 10 to 12 eight-ounce glass or drink to thirst.
If you are someone who hates water, there to plenty of alternative you have to keep you hydrated. Read here to find out Beverages for breastfeeding moms that are not only hydrating but helps boost your milk supply.
9. Keep yourself Warm
Cold temperature actually inhibits let down, so have a hot shower before you nurse or pump. It will make milk available to baby and baby will efficiently nurse to empty the breast, leading to increase in milk supply.
10. Try Switch Nursing
Instead of letting baby drain the breast and dose off, switch nurse. Let your baby feed on the first breast until the intensity of her suck diminishes, then sit him up and burp and switch her to the other breast. When sucking slows, switch back to first breast. Keep doing in 2 to 3 times. This will encourage both breasts to make enough milk at every feeding.
11. Feed on Demand
When you have a newborn, feed them on demand. Follow your baby’s cue and feed them whenever she is hungry. Even if it means every 30 min, DO IT. It may not look practical but if you are looking to increase your milk supply, feeding on demand is the way to go.
12. Eat a Healthy Diet
Breastfeeding and making milk require good amount of energy. So, to build up and keep up with your milk supply, eat well-balanced meals and healthy snacks. Breastfeeding moms need about 2,500 calories per day. Make sure to include following in your diet every day to get those much-needed energy.
- Eat at least cup of whole Grains like oatmeal, barley, millet, and quinoa.
- Include fruits and green leafy vegetables in each meal.
- Include Nuts and seeds like flaxseed, almonds, and sesame seeds in your diet every day.
13. Try Lactation Teas
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14. Try Lactation Cookies
Many breastfeeding moms swear by lactation cookies. Most lactation cookies are made with galactagogues herbs like protein-rich Brewer’s yeast, coconut, oatmeal and others. The one that liked is this one. You can also bake your own lactation cookies with the milk boosting herbs. There are many recipes on pinterest.
15. Take Galactagogues Herbs
Breastfeeding mothers has been taking galactagogues herbs since ages to increase their milk supply (2-3). The supplements work best when you increase the number of times you pump or breastfeed your baby.
Fenugreek is the most common and popular galactagogue herb used for boosting the milk supply. There are few research studies that supports the use of fenugreek for boosting the breast milk supply. While introducing fenugreek, increase your dose slowly to see if it works for you, as some mother’e experiences the opposite effect (4-5).
- Blessed Thistle
Blessed thistle is a purported galactagogue and it works best when combined with fenugreek (6).
- Brewer’s yeast
Brewer’s yeast is believed to be a galactagaogue, used by nursing mothers to boost theirs milk supply. It is rich in protein, iron and Vitamins. Though there isn’t scientific data to support its effectiveness, but it has been used for ages to not only boost milk supply but to combat fatigue and fight off baby blues.
Anise is another galactagogue herb used to increase the breast milk supply (7). However, there aren’t much scientific data, but some moms swear by it. In some cultures, Anise water is given to mothers for 2 weeks postpartum. It helps not only with milk supply but also prevents blocked milk ducts and colic symptoms in baby.
And of course, before starting any supplements, it’s always a good idea to discuss with your doctor.
Moringa has been used in many parts of the world by nursing mothers to increase breast milk supply (8). A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials in 2013 shows that moringa significantly increases breast milk volume in mother’s of premature baby (9).
Recommended reading : 10 Best Postnatal Vitamins for Breastfeeding Moms 2020
Recommended reading : 6 Amazing Benefits of Ginger for Breastfeeding moms
How to Produce More Breast Milk using Breast pump?
When you are struggling with low milk supply, pumping can really help to stimulate our breast to produce more milk. I had to use Breast pump in addition to supplements to boost my breast milk supply.
16. Pump after Feedings
Try pumping after each feeding session. You should pump until last drop of milk drains from your breast, then continue for additional five minutes to stimulate your breast.
17. Power Pump
Try power pumping. It happens only once a day at same time every day. You can do it for few days to signal your body to make more milk. This is how it works,
- Pump 20 minutes
- Rest 10 minutes
- Pump 10 minutes
- Rest 10
- Pump 10
Can you take a prescription drug to boost your milk Supply?
There are prescription medication you can use to boost your milk supply. If everything else fails, ask your doctor for prescription medication. According to KellyMom, your doctor may prescribe medications like Metoclopramide (Reglan), Domperidone (Motilium), and sulpiride (Eglonyl, Dolmatil, Sulpitil, Sulparex, Equemote) to increase prolactin levels.
This medication can help, but they do have side effects like severe depression, diarrhea, and nausea.
How can I increase my milk supply during my period?
Due to decrease in mother’s blood calcium level during ovulation and/or menstruation cycle, some women experience a drop in their milk supply. In this case take calcium and magnesium supplements to help restore calcium level and it also helps to eliminate uterine cramping.
According to KellyMom, the recommended dosage for calcium/magnesium supplement is between 500mg calcium/250mg magnesium.
How long does it take to increase milk supply?
Breastfeeding can best be described as a supply and demand relationship. The more you nurse, the more milk your body will produce.
The answer depends largely on how often you’re nursing or pumping and your body’s response to the milk making hormones.
For some women it may take only a few days, and for others it might be a few weeks to get things back in balance.
When we don’t produce enough breast milk, it is very frustrating and that lead to stress. But stressing is the last thing we want to do when breastfeeding. Because it decreases milk production than anything else.
So mama, take a deep breath and try different thing and be persistence. If it works out, great!! Most important thing at the end of the day it that baby is fed.
How About you?
Do you have any natural remedy to boost breast milk supply? Leave your comment below.
Still Looking for Breastfeeding Help?
Among the most common mistakes that mom makes during breastfeeding is not getting help when needed. If you are having trouble getting your baby to latch on, or you need to learn hows and whys of breastfeeding or you want a help getting over a glitch, ask for a lactation consultant. They will recommend the best way to deal with your specific condition.
If you can not get an appointment to see your lactation consultant in-person due to pandemic, you can learn how to latch on your baby from comfort of your home by taking The Ultimate Breastfeeding class by Stacey, a board certified lactation educator. This online class goes in detail about latching and positioning, expressing and pumping, common breastfeeding challenges and much more.
It is not too late to take this class. I took this class 2 weeks after my baby was born and it helped me tremendously to deal with breastfeeding challenges.
Read my full review of The Ultimate Breastfeeding class here.
- Zapantis, A., Steinberg, J., Schilit, L., (2012). Use of Herbals as Galactagogues. Journal of Pharmacy Practice April 2012 vol. 25 no. 2 222-231 Murray, D. (2014).
- Mylove, M. (2013). Systematic Review of the Efficacy of Herbal Galactagogues. Journal of Human Lactation. May 2013 vol. 29 no. 2 154-162
- Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2006-.Available from ttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501779/PubMed PMID: 30000838.
- Khan TM, Wu DB, Dolzhenko AV. Effectiveness of fenugreek as a galactagogue: A network meta-analysis. Phytother Res. 2018 Mar;32(3):402-412. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5972. Epub 2017 Nov 30. Review. PubMed PMID: 29193352.
- Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2006-. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501775/PubMed PMID: 30000834.
- Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2006-. Available from ttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501776/PubMed PMID: 30000835.
- Raguindin PF, Dans LF, King JF. Moringa oleifera as a Galactagogue. Breastfeed Med. 2014 Jul-Aug;9(6):323-4. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2014.0002. Epub 2014 Jun 3. PubMed PMID: 24892837.
- King, Jacelie & Raguindin, Peter Francis & Dans, Leonila. (2013). Moringa oleifera (Malunggay) as a Galactagogue for Breastfeeding Mothers: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. The Philippine journal of pediatrics. 61. 34-42.