In order to understand how to increase your milk supply it is important to understand how the process of milk production works. You may have heard that breast milk supply is based on supply and demand, but milk production isn’t initially based on supply and demand. After you give birth, hormones in your body tell your breasts to start making milk. During this time period your body doesn’t know exactly how much milk your baby will need. This is the best time to establish a good milk supply.
Over time, your body eventually learns how much milk to produce based on the removal of milk from your breasts. When your breasts are empty, this tells your body to make more milk. Likewise, full breasts signal your body to make less milk. Emptying the breasts frequently during the early stages of breastfeeding will help ensure that you have a good milk supply. But what can you do if breastfeeding didn’t get off to a good start or if you want to increase your milk supply?
Here are 35 ways to boost your milk supply:
1. Breastfeed frequently. Frequent breastfeeding is the number one key to boosting your milk supply.
2. Offer both breasts during feedings.
3. Make sure baby nurses long enough to empty your breast when she nurses.
4. Don’t schedule feedings. Follow your baby’s hunger cues for feeding.
5. Allow your baby to cluster feed. Cluster feeding is when a baby breastfeeds several times during a short period of time. Babies often cluster feed in the evenings before they go to sleep.
6. Try switch nursing. Nurse on one breast, if baby gets tired of nursing switch to the other breast, and continue switching breasts until both breasts are empty or baby will no longer suck.
7. Use breast compression when you nurse. Breast compression involves massaging your breast and squeezing extra milk out as your baby nurses.
8. Breastfeed at night. Night feedings are great for boosting milk supply.
9. Pump after nursing. Usually pumping after nursing will help empty the breast. If you find that you are not pumping anything after nursing you can try pumping before nursing. Babies are much more efficient at emptying the breast than a pump so this may work better for some moms.
10. If your supply is low or baby is not gaining weight see a lactation consultant for help.
11. Make sure baby is latching on well. Try more than one technique to get your baby latched on.
12. Get support from breastfeeding moms.
13. Pump while you nurse. Pump on one side and nurse on the other. Then switch sides and let baby empty the breast that you pumped.
14. Get lots of skin to skin contact with baby.
15. Nurse in bed. Lying down in bed may help you relax and allow baby to nurse for longer periods of time.
16. Don’t sleep on your stomach at night. This may compress your breasts and hinder your supply.
17. Let your baby comfort nurse even if you don’t hear her swallowing.
18. Try babywearing. Carry your baby in a sling or try nursing her in the sling.
19. Avoid pacifiers and artificial nipples
20. Avoid taking birth control pills while you are breastfeeding if possible.
21. Don’t smoke.
22. Drink plenty of water, especially right before you nurse.
23. Limit how much caffeine you drink.
24. Try to relax when you nurse and not rush.
25. Avoid supplementing if at all possible.
26. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of protein.
27. If your baby needs to supplement, consider using a supplemental nursing system or lactation aid so that your baby can nurse at the breast while you supplement.
28. Take a nursing vacation. Spend a weekend in bed with your baby and nurse her as much as possible.
29. Try taking fenugreek or blessed thistle. Both our herbs that have been used to help improve milk supply.
30. Try drinking mother’s milk tea. Mother’s milk tea can be found at most health stores.
31. Don’t diet while you are breastfeeding.
32. Eat a bowl of oatmeal. Some moms believe oatmeal helps boost milk supply.
33. Talk to your doctor about prescription medication like Reglan to boost your milk supply.
34. Avoid decongestants and antihistamines as these may decrease milk supply.
35. Remember that any amount of breast milk your baby gets from you is good for her.