One of the biggest concerns for new breastfeeding moms is how to increase breastmilk. I know this was the case for me when all three of my babies were born.
I struggled with low milk supply and many other breastfeeding challenges that I hope to prevent for other sleep deprived, frustrated, and confused moms.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re not in the camp of moms who were instantly blessed with a steady flow of liquid gold for their new baby. Or you certainly wouldn’t be wasting your
You’re probably dealing with long days and even longer nights searching for the best breastfeeding tips and wondering if your baby is getting enough milk.
When you do pump, you produce a few meager ounces. This can be frustrating and depressing. Can I offer you some friendly advice first? Do NOT go down that dark road. It leads to no where.
Keeping your mind on the positive and having a positive expectation goes a long way!
Boost Your Milk Supply
Each of the natural methods to boost your milk supply shared here are proven safe and will only help you. A few do have side effects so be sure to read those before trying any new supplements and checking with your Doctor.
Just remember that every woman’s body is different and there are never any guarantees. If you find that your body just doesn’t cooperate, know you’re NOT alone.
I formula fed all three of my babies after breastfeeding and they are three of the healthiest, brightest, and smartest kids I know… if I do say so myself.
There is never any shame in feeding your baby in any way that’s needed or chosen by you… a loving mother.
Now, let’s explore all the ways to increase your breast milk supply naturally. But first I just want to say that I’m not a lactation expert. Just another mom who cares a lot and does a TON of research!
Read: Breastfeeding videos for new moms that are actually helpful.
How to Know if Your Milk Supply is Even Low
Boosting your milk supply can be a tricky thing because it’s hard to tell why your milk supply is low
This is not necessarily going to give you a good gauge because every baby’s milk needs are unique and you may be making just the right amount of milk for your baby. And babies are much more efficient at removing milk from the breast than a pump. Many pumps just don’t work well.
Many moms also think their supply is low because their breasts don’t feel full or their baby is very fussy all the time.
These can be caused by things other than low supply. First, breasts that produce plenty of milk will often never feel full which is totally normal. And
3 clear signs that your milk supply may be low are:
- Your Baby is not gaining adequate weight. (Weight recommendations.)
- Your baby isn’t wetting enough diapers. A typical infant should be wetting at least 5 diapers in a 24 hour period from 5 days old and onward.
- Your baby isn’t soiling enough diapers. A typical newborn should be soiling at least 3 diapers per day beyond day 5. This is sometimes less or more depending on your baby.
If you suspect your milk supply is low and your baby isn’t getting enough milk, make an appointment with both your baby’s pediatrician and a certified lactation consultant right away.
Boosting your milk supply is something you’ll have to work at and most likely experiment with until you find something that works for your body. This isn’t an overnight process… nothing is with parenting.
You just need to decide what you want to do and stick with it until you see results. And get all the help you need because you and your baby deserve it!
Here are many proven and highly recommended methods you can try to boost your milk supply. Remember, most of these won’t work overnight, so try them for at least a week to see how your body responds.
Using Fenugreek to boost milk supply is one of the most popular ways breastfeeding moms are increasing their milk. It’s been shown to increase supply within 24-72 hours, but that, of course, may vary from mom to mom.
Fenugreek is an herb. Its primary uses are as an herb or spice in Indian and Persian cuisine and as a galactagogue for breastfeeding mothers.
Fenugreek is safe but shouldn’t be used by those who are diabetic, have a chickpea or peanut allergy, or have asthma.
There are many ways to use Fenugreek. Here are just a few of the easiest ways:
- Take in simple capsule form. The capsules generally come in 610mg and it’s recommended to take 2 capsules 3 times per day with food. That’s a total of 6 capsules per day. (Dosing source) | Here is a capsule that gets high ratings from breastfeeding moms.
- Take in a tea form. Many moms swear by Mother’s Milk Tea and is an easy way to take Fenugreek. It has a slightly sweet licorice taste.
- Take in a powder form. You can use Fenugreek powder to milk in lactation smoothies to pump up the nutrients you’re getting while breastfeeding. The only downside to using a powder is the high price tag.
Brewer’s Yeast Breastfeeding
Brewer’s yeast is another popular and effective supplement to boost a low milk supply. Though it’s not known exactly why brewers yeast helps increase breastmilk supply it also has some other good benefits such as lowering blood sugar levels for diabetics, may help lower cholesterol levels, and helps nourish skin and hair.
It’s also believed to elevate moods and feelings of mild depression. And with so many moms suffering from Postpartum Depression, it’s worth a try!
It also has some possible side effects such as upset stomach, cramps, and an increased risk of yeast infections.
You can take brewer’s yeast in a simple powder form. This brand of brewer’s yeast has hundreds of happy mom reviews! Just add 1-2 tablespoons to your favorite drink, lactation smoothie, or lactation cookie once per day.
More Breastfeeding Supplements
There are more, less common supplements to use for increasing your milk supply.
- Blessed Thistle
- Stinging Nettle
- Goat’s Rue
- Milk Thistle
Always talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant before taking any herbal treatments. For many centuries, herbal remedies have been used as medications. And, just like prescription drugs, herbs and plants can have side effects. And, depending on the preparation, some herbs can even be toxic.
Increase Breastmilk Through Pumping
You can also increase your milk supply through pumping. Also known as power pumping. The concept is simple, the more your baby nurses or you pump the more signals your body receives to tell it to produce more milk.
“If you want to boost your milk supply fast, power pumping can help by creating an artificially high demand for breast milk. By increasing the number of times you pump, you give your body the message to increase milk production.” — Helen Anderson, Chief Lactation Officer
Power pumping works great for moms who’ve already established their milk supply and noticed a dip in their supply or haven’t been able to nurse baby consistently for a number of reasons such as returning to work or a painful breast infection.
It also works for moms who are exclusively pumping as I did with my son. He was admitted in the hospital after 4 days old due to critically low bilirubin levels. I wasn’t even able to hold him more than a few minutes per day.
I had to start pumping right away for days and he never took to the breast so I decided to pump exclusively for as long as I could.
Power pumping helps to mimic cluster feeding which is a natural increase in your baby’s desire and need for milk. Which your body will naturally respond to with increased milk supply.
Power pumping really requires a time commitment. Basically, you’ll need to set aside an hour for your full power pumping session which will look like this:
- You’ll pump both breasts for 20 minutes
- Rest for 10 minutes
- Pump for 10 minutes
- Rest for 10 minutes
- Pump for 10 minutes
You can do this at least 2 times a day until you see your supply increase and then gradually reduce your power pumping sessions.
Foods to Increase Breastmilk
Aside from staying very hydrated by drinking lots of water during and in between nursing sessions, there are also foods that tend to help increase milk production. These are referred to as lactation foods or the lactation diet.
- Rolled Oats
- Vegetables like carrots, yams, and dark leafy greens
- Sesame Seeds
Here’s a great resource of lactation recipes!
When to Know When it’s Time to Supplement with Formula
There are times when it’s appropriate and even necessary to begin supplementing with formula. If you think you may need to supplement, I urge you to get medical support from your baby’s pediatrician and your own Doctor or lactation consultant.
And never feel pressured to keep breastfeeding or start supplementing if you’re not comfortable or ready. As long as your baby is meeting the above guidelines, you most likely have time to make the best decision for your baby without the pressure from professionals who may not share your convictions.
Do you have a tip that worked to increase your breastmilk supply? Please share it in the comments below!