Ways to increase your milk supply
If you have low milk supply or suspect you have low supply, you may be looking for ways to increase your milk supply. Determining why your supply is low will help you to choose the right techniques to boost your supply. Read more here about reasons why your supply could be low.
There are many ways you can impact your supply. You can choose more than one way to boost your supply, especially if you are not sure why your supply is low. Here are some tips for increasing supply.
Offer both breasts each feed
Often newborns take only one side per feed as they require a smaller feed. However, as they get older and the amount they need increases, you will need to offer both breasts to ensure you produce enough for the higher feeding requirements. If you are only feeding from one breast, offering the second breast will trigger your body to start to increase supply.
Feed more frequently
The quickest and simplest way to increase supply is offering more frequent feeds as this will tell your body to produce more milk. If you are currently feeding 3 hourly, then offer a feeds at 2 hourly intervals to trigger an increase in milk production. If your supply has dropped you may notice your baby guiding you to do this by demanding feeds earlier or closer together.
Offer ‘top up’ feeds
If your baby is fussy after a feed, you can offer your baby a top feed after 20-30 minutes as your breasts are never completely empty, even after a big feed. When trying to boost supply, you can also offer top up feeds even before your baby cries for one. You can’t over feed a breastfed baby as they will only drink what they need but you can stimulate supply simply with suckling.
Sleeping through the night?
If your baby is sleeping through the night, you may need to offer extra feeds during the day to maintain or increase your supply.
Adding expressing to your routine can help increase supply. You can express after each feed to signal your supply that you need more milk. You can even express on one side while feeding your baby on the other.
Mum using The Night Owl Hands-free Breast pump to express milk in bed
Change sides several times during a feed
More rigorous sucking stimulates milk supply so if you notice your baby slowing their sucking, switch sides. They will suck more rigorously after they’ve switched sides and you can do this a few times during a feed.
Skin to skin contact
Lying with your baby naked against your breasts stimulates the hormone oxytocin which helps to stimulate supply. This technique is used in special care nurseries where mums are expressing for premature babies who can’t suckle yet. It is often successful at building supply for prem mums.
Mum and baby having skin to skin contact
Check you are eating well
There are no miraculous foods to increase your supply, however a poor diet or lack of hydration can affect your ability to make milk. Ensure you are eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. Don’t skip meals, even though you are busy. Making milk uses a lot of energy so make sure you are eating well.
Keep a bottle of water with you at all times so you can stay hydrated. Some mums find they get thirsty while they are feeding, so having a sip of water while your baby is feeding can be very important.
Give up smoking
This may not apply to you, but if you are a smoker, smoking can affect your supply. If you don’t want to or can’t give up smoking, reducing smoking helps, as does smoking only after feeds.
Call on your support network
Having someone to help or offer you support will reduce stress, which in turn will help your milk supply. Accept offers of help with cooking and cleaning if you can. If you have general support and someone to talk to this can also help with reducing your stress levels.
Using expressing tools such as the Breastie Milk Saver can help build supply
Speak to a lactation consultant
Lactation consultants are the experts in all things breastfeeding. Scheduling an appointment with a lactation consultant can help you to work out why your supply is low and check for things that may be a problem such as attachment, tongue tie or other issues that may affect feeding.
Many local councils offer a free lactation service through the maternal child health program, so give them a call first. Alternatively, the hospital where you birthed your baby usually offers a lactation service for some time after your baby’s birth.
Mum and baby taking a rest on the bed
If after trying all of these suggestions you are still experiencing low milk supply, it may be time to speak to your doctor about galactagogues. Galactagogues are medications that trigger your body to produce more milk. Sometimes women have physiological reasons why their milk supply is low and will require galactagogues to support their milk production. Mums with premature babies often require these too, due to exclusively expressing.
In most instances low milk supply can be solved in just a few days with more frequent feeding. Removing milk, produces milk. Feed, feed, feed and you should notice your supply increasing.