Tips for Increasing Milk Supply
There is nothing more frustrating than putting all of the time, energy, and passion into something and not seeing the results. It is not uncommon to hear of supply concerns, and in fact, it is one of the most common things we hear. Sometimes they are in fact real concerns, and other times, it is a perception and then the mother can be reassured she is making plenty for her baby.
Why you may not have enough milk:
Not enough breastfeeding or pumping- If the amount of feedings or pumping is decreased or too spread out, you may not be able to produce as much. Typically, if four or more hours goes by without breastfeeding or pumping, you may begin to slowly decrease your supply.
Latching / Breastfeeding issues- Your baby may not be nursing or drinking well at the breast. If the milk is not removed, it tells your body to slow or stop production.
Ineffective Pumping- If your flange sizes are not fitting well, or if you are using incorrect settings on your pump, your pump will not efficiently remove milk.
Plugged ducts or overly full- Having any firm areas in your breast or regularly staying overfull can slow your production.
Dehydration or being ill- not having the fluids you need can put a strain on your supply.
Don't worry, there is hope for getting the supply you need!
Are you going back to work or already back to work? We understand you want to have that extra stash set aside to make sure you have enough. Having a day or two of feedings stored away ahead of the game will definitely help.
***There are many ways to increase milk supply. Usually, this starts with giving your body the right message. The frequent removal of milk with breast stimulation helps make more milk.
Ensure your baby is nursing well and frequently swallowing for each feeding. Using gentle breast compression during feeding can help baby remove more. After breastfeeding, pump for about 15 minutes, using “active pumping,” breast compressions, and massage during the pumping. If you aren’t able to pump after every feeding, do as many times as you are able.
Try massaging your breasts before and while pumping, called “Active pumping”. Pump for about 15 minutes, using “active pumping,” breast compression, and massage during the pumping. It helps to use a pumping bra (make sure it isn't too snug though). Using the correct size of breast pump flange, and the right timing and settings on your pump can also be crucial.
Hand expression for a few minutes before pumping can increase amounts pumped. The mechanical motion of hand expression can stimulate for milk supply differently than the pump.
Another pumping technique that can be helpful is “power pumping.” There are different ways to do this, including pumping for 10 minutes, stopping for 10 minutes, then repeating this for 1 hour. If you are watching a TV show with commercials, you can pump during the commercials for 1 hour. Try to do power pumping once a day until your supply responds.
Nutrition can also be helpful when making a milk supply. It takes calories for your body to take on increased demands, such as making milk. You burn about 500-800 calories a day making milk. If you have other needs on your body, such as returning to work or just recovering from birth, you should take even more care with this. Some foods considered “galactagogues” (things that make milk) include sweet potatoes, eggs, whole grains, and leafy greens. The most commonly known foods are oatmeal and barley. Some herbs that can be helpful are basil and fennel. Making sure you are well hydrated is also essential. Drinking about 8 ounces of something every time you nurse your baby &/or pump is minimal. Drinking coconut water, milk, and fluids like Gatorade, Body Armor, or other electrolyte drinks can be helpful.
Herbs and Medications:
Many preparations exist today that have herbal galactagogues in them. Some ingredients may include moringa, shatavari, fenugreek, fennel, blessed thistle, and goat’s rue. These may help increase your milk supply. Some work better for some individuals than for others and they each work differently. For more help deciding what will work best, talk with a lactation consultant.