While no magic formula or quick fix will give you a sudden increase in milk supply, there are some tips and tricks you can follow to help increase your breast milk supply faster to give your little one all the nourishment they need. If you have been struggling with milk production during lactation or are looking for ways to prepare yourself before welcoming your baby into the world, this blog post has 10 simple tricks that could make a big difference.
If you are still preggo, be sure to check out our recommended suite of breastfeeding classes 👉🏼 click here to learn more!
With patience and dedication, over time, these strategies will leave both mama and baby feeling more empowered as they embark on their journey of bonding through breastfeeding!
Why I am here and who I am:
Hey Mama, I'm Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama, a labor and delivery nurse with over 16 years of high-risk OB experience. I am a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6, labored thousands of mamas, and delivered many babies. I have breastfed, um pretty much most of my adult life and had 2 experiences with low milk supply. It sucks and it was so emotional. I felt horrible. Lots of tears.
I am the creator of Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes' online birth class educator and the mama expert inside our Calm Mama Society Mama Membership, where we host weekly pregnancy & postpartum hangouts, expert workshops and have two doulas available to our members! You can find me over on IG teaching over 265k mamas daily.
We make a small commission from some of the links (you don’t pay any more for using our links); however some of the recommendations, we do not earn anything; we love ’em and want you to know about them. Click here for our full disclosure. Thank you!
What Causes Low Milk Supply?
Many factors cause low breast milk supply, including medical conditions, lifestyle choices, and physical challenges. Medical conditions associated with low milk supply include hypothyroidism, certain hormonal imbalances such as luteal phase deficiency or polycystic ovarian syndrome, and insufficient glandular tissue in the breast.
Lifestyle choices such as consuming too much caffeine, smoking cigarettes or using marijuana, crash dieting to lose weight quickly, and not taking in enough fluids can also impact the ability to produce sufficient amounts of breastmilk. In addition, physical challenges such as having a C-section or premature birth can lead to difficulties in establishing an adequate milk supply.
Previous Breast surgeries, such as a mastectomy, lumpectomy, breast augmentations, or lifts, can sometimes impact milk production.
In some cases, removing breast tissue during surgery can reduce the amount of milk a mother can produce. Furthermore, changes in nipple sensation and pressure may lead to difficulty with let-down and inhibit milk flow. For those who have had surgery, it's important to seek out the support of a lactation consultant to ensure that the milk supply isn't unnecessarily affected by the procedure.
Certain medications can disrupt the flow of milk and inhibit proper lactation. Hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills or patches, can reduce milk supply. Certain anti-depressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have also been linked to insufficient breast milk. Additionally, certain blood pressure medications, diuretics, and other drugs that act on the central nervous system may all interfere with lactation. Allergy and cold medication can also reduce milk production in some cases. It is important to consult your doctor before taking any breastfeeding medications, as they can potentially affect your breast milk supply (duh). If you are having difficulty producing enough milk for your baby, be sure to talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking that could potentially be disrupting your milk supply. (Like cold meds!)
Finally, stress can play a role in suppressing milk production: high levels of cortisol have been found to affect prolactin levels (a hormone that helps stimulate milk production). For this reason, it's important for moms to make sure they get adequate rest and relaxation during breastfeeding sessions. Does that seem like a joke to you as well? Self-care is key, mama!!
What Are Signs That Your Baby Isn't Getting Enough Milk?
You may notice fewer wet diapers or soiled diapers than expected, as well as slow weight gain and prolonged jaundice in newborns. In addition to these physical signs, it is not uncommon for a nursing baby to become irritable or fussy during feedings due to hunger and lack of nutrition. The nursing baby may also fall asleep quickly after each feeding session due to a lack of energy and nutrients from breast milk. Mothers may also find that their babies stop latching on to the breast for extended periods of time and have an insufficient suckling reflex. Other signs can include cracked nipples, engorged breasts that are overly full but still unable to produce adequate breastmilk, pain during nursing sessions, and feeling overwhelmed while trying to nurse.
Signs that your baby is not getting enough milk include: decreased wet or dirty diapers, slow weight gain, prolonged jaundice lasting more than a few days, and signs of dehydration such as dry lips or mouth. In addition, your baby may become irritable or fussy during feedings and may not be content after feeding. You may also notice that your baby does not stay on the breast for long periods of time and falls asleep quickly after feeding.
It’s important to look at the amount of milk you produce. If the amount of milk is lower than normal or if you have difficulty expressing milk from your breasts, this can be a sign that your supply is low. If your baby shows any of these signs, it’s best to speak with a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
What to Do if You Have Low Milk Supply?
If you have a low milk supply, speaking with a healthcare professional as soon as possible is important. There are a variety of treatments and methods that can be used to address the issue. For sure see a lactation consultant. We recommend this group and her amazing breastfeeding classes.
Your doctor may recommend increasing your daily calorie intake in order to make sure you are getting enough nutrition and building up your body’s energy reserves needed for lactation. Additionally, they might suggest taking certain herbs known for helping increase milk production, such as fenugreek or blessed thistle.
It is also important to take care of yourself emotionally while struggling with a low milk supply, as it can be very upsetting and stressful for mothers. It can be helpful to seek support from friends, family members, or other breastfeeding mothers who are experiencing similar struggles. Finally, remember that every mother is different, and you should never feel ashamed about not being able to produce enough milk – this does not make you any less of a mother!
Let's dive into our 10-step strategy for tackling low milk supply.
If You Have Low Milk Supply First: Do Not Worry or Stress
If you have a low milk supply, it's important to take a moment not to worry. It can be very upsetting and stressful for mothers when they don't produce enough milk, but it doesn't make them any less of a mother. Many different treatments and methods can help address low milk supply, so it is important to speak with a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
And remember, you did not do anything wrong; it happens. It happened to me.l I am a seasoned labor nurse with lots of babies, and Greyson was not gaining, and I had a low milk supply!! It can happen to us all!!
Seek Expert Advice and Help
If you have low milk supply, it's important to speak with a healthcare professional as soon as possible. There are a variety of treatments and methods that can be used to address the issue.
The first step is to ensure that you are nursing your baby correctly, as proper latch and suckling can help improve milk production. You may also need to supplement your baby’s feedings with formula or expressed breastmilk if necessary. If your breasts are engorged due to an oversupply of milk, you may need to pump or express some of the excess breast milk in order to relieve the discomfort and help stimulate milk production.
I used a supplemental feeding system for Greyson. Haakaa has also released one that we love around here!
With my youngest, I had to use a supplemental feeding system in order to make sure that he was getting all the nutrition that he needed. Because sometimes even if you want to breastfeed, or have exclusively breastfed in the past, you need a little help to make sure that your baby gets enough. A supplemental feeding system is a way to supplement your breastmilk with additional nutrition, such as formula or pumped milk, while still allowing your baby to breastfeed. A supplemental system that I really like, and recommend to my students and Calm Mama Society members is the @haakaanz Supplemental Feeding Combo. So why would you need to use a supplemental feeding system? 1. Low milk supply: Sometimes, mothers may have a low milk supply, which can make it difficult for their baby to get enough nutrition from breastfeeding alone. A supplemental feeding system can help ensure that your baby is getting enough food to grow and thrive. 2. Poor latch: If your baby is having trouble latching onto your breast, a supplemental feeding system can provide them with the nutrition they need while you work on improving their latch. 3. Medical issues: Certain medical conditions or medications may affect your milk supply or the quality of your breast milk. A supplemental feeding system can help ensure that your baby is still receiving the necessary nutrients despite these challenges. 4. Premature or sick baby: Premature or sick babies may need additional nutrition to support their growth and development. A supplemental feeding system can help provide them with the extra nutrition they need. Remember, breastfeeding is a wonderful way to provide your baby with the nutrients they need, but it's not always easy and it's okay to need a little extra help. If you're considering using a supplemental feeding system, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant to make sure it's the right choice for you and your baby. Check it out by clicking the link in bio, and don't forget to use code LOVELNM10 for 10% off! #breastfeedingawarenes #supplementalnursingsystem #breastfedproblems #breastfeedingmums #nursingmomsoftiktok #lactationsupport
Proper latch and suckling techniques can help improve milk production, so if your baby has trouble nursing, consulting with a lactation specialist may be beneficial. Additionally, increasing the amount of calories in your diet can provide the energy reserves needed for lactation. If your breasts become engorged due to an oversupply of milk, you may need to pump or express some of the excess breast milk to relieve the discomfort and further stimulate milk production.
It can be helpful to seek support from those around you during this difficult time, including friends, family members, or other breastfeeding mothers who can relate and offer advice. It is okay not to have all the answers right away – remember that everyone's experience is different, and it takes time for some new moms to figure out what works best for them regarding breastfeeding and childcare. Taking care of yourself emotionally is key during this process – while it can be extremely overwhelming at times, don’t forget that you are doing an amazing job!
Drink Plenty of Fluids and Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is crucial for our bodies to function properly. When we don't drink enough fluids, we risk becoming dehydrated, which can lead to fatigue, headaches, and even more serious health issues. That's why it's important to make sure we're drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. Water is the best choice, but other beverages like tea and juice can also help contribute to our hydration needs. It can be tough to remember to drink enough fluids, but setting reminders on your phone or carrying a water bottle with you can help make it a habit. So let's prioritize staying hydrated and give our bodies the support they need to thrive.
Try Lactation Cookies or Good Nutrition to Help Increase Your Milk Supply
If you are a new mom struggling with a low milk supply, you may wonder what options are available to increase it naturally. One popular choice among lactation consultants and nursing mothers alike is lactation cookies or tea. These yummy treats are made with ingredients known for their galactagogue properties, such as oats, brewer's yeast, and flaxseed. The tea, on the other hand, often contains herbs like fenugreek, fennel, and blessed thistle, which have been used for centuries to boost milk production.
While these remedies may not work for everyone, there's no harm in trying them, especially if you're looking for a natural and tasty way to support your breastfeeding journey. Keep in mind that stress, lack of sleep, and dehydration can also hinder milk production, so be sure to take care of yourself and seek support from a lactation expert if needed. Together, you and your little one can overcome any breastfeeding hurdles and enjoy a fulfilling nursing relationship.
Foods & Herbs used to increase breast milk supply:
- Brewer's Yeast
- Almonds and Nuts
Nursing on demand – make sure to breastfeed often
As a nursing mother, listening to your baby's cues and feeding them on demand is important. Breast milk is the perfect food for your little one; the more you nurse, the more milk your body will produce. Not only does breastfeeding provide optimal nutrition for your baby, it also offers numerous health benefits for both of you. Breast milk contains antibodies that help protect your baby from illness and can even lower your risk of certain cancers. So, don't be afraid to nurse often, and take the time to enjoy these precious moments with your little one. With the right support and information, you can make breastfeeding a positive and empowering experience for you and your baby.
Basically, just nurse all day and all night for a time period. This is probably the top tip besides seeing a lactation consultant.
Pumping to Increase Milk Supply
When pumping to build milk supply, it is recommended that mothers pump often and for longer durations of time than when merely expressing milk from the breast. Generally speaking, each session should last at least 15-20 minutes and be done at least 8 times in 24 hours. This routine's stimulation will help signal the body to produce more milk. Additionally, increasing the suction strength during a pumping session can help improve milk flow rates and produce more milk.
The key to pumping is to buy or rent a quality breast pump and ensure you have proper flange sizing done. Otherwise, this will not help your breast milk production.
In addition to regular pumping sessions, mothers can also try other methods, such as hand expression or lactation massage, to further stimulate their body’s natural production capabilities. Eating a healthy diet full of nutrient-rich foods can also help support increased milk production while avoiding any dehydration or nutrient deficiencies that could impede it. Finally, making sure mom is well rested, and stress-free can do wonders for boosting her overall energy levels and boosting her body's natural ability to produce quality breastmilk.
Storing Pumped Breast Milk
Once your breast milk is expressed, it needs to be stored properly in order to stay safe and healthy for the baby. It should be placed in a clean container and labeled with the date that it was expressed. Breast milk can then be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for up to six months, depending on how you plan on using it!
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Get Plenty of Rest and Try Relaxation Techniques
Taking care of yourself is essential for overall well-being, and getting enough rest is crucial to self-care. Sleep is a time for rejuvenation and repair, allowing your body to recover from the stresses of daily life. If you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep, relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can be beneficial. By calming the mind and body, these practices can help reduce stress and tension, promoting a state of deep relaxation that can lead to more restful sleep. So next time you're feeling overwhelmed or having trouble sleeping, why not try incorporating some relaxation techniques into your routine? The benefits for your physical and mental health will surely be worth it.
Consider Taking Supplements to Increase Milk Supply
For some new moms, increasing milk supply can be a challenge, and while prescription medications are available, many choose to go the natural route. Certain herbs and supplements have been known to help boost milk production, including fenugreek, blessed thistle, and fennel seed. It's important to talk to your doctor or lactation consultant before introducing any new supplements to your diet. However, using natural remedies can empower moms who want to take control of their feeding journey. Remember that everybody is different, and what works for one mom may not work for another, but with some experimentation and guidance, you can find what works for you.
*Always consult your provider first*
Prescription medications to increase milk supply
Prescription medicine is also used to increase milk supply and can be a helpful tool for breastfeeding mothers who are struggling with low breast milk production. Domperidone and metoclopramide are two commonly prescribed medications that have been clinically proven to help increase breast milk production by stimulating the pituitary gland, which helps produce prolactin, the hormone responsible for lactation.
So my funny story, I may or may not have had one of my sons bring me some Domperidone across the border. I am not admitting to this. Imagine smuggling meds to help your mom increase her breast milk supply. AWKWARD!
It is best practice to speak with your healthcare provider before beginning any medication regimen as it may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions or allergies. Your doctor can advise you on proper dosage and usage guidelines so you can benefit most from these drugs while minimizing side effects. With their help and guidance, many women have successfully increased their milk supply through these medications without compromising their health or safety.
Medications Used to Increase Breast Milk Supply
- Domperidone (Not approved in America)
Skin to Skin to Increase Low Milk Supply
One of the best ways to increase low milk supply is through skin-to-skin contact with your baby. Skin-to-skin, or Kangaroo Care, involves placing your baby directly against your bare chest, allowing your baby's body heat and soothing heartbeat to trigger the release of hormones that help to stimulate milk production. This method also helps to create a sense of closeness between mother and baby, promoting positive bonding.
Additionally, skin-to-skin contact has been known to improve milk quality by stimulating increased prolactin—a hormone that can help with lactation—in mothers. If you are struggling with a low milk supply, consider trying skin-to-skin contact; it could make all the difference in helping you reach your breastfeeding goals!
Breast Massage to Increase Milk Supply
Breast massage is a great way to increase your milk supply when you struggle with low production. Massaging your breasts will stimulate the milk flow and help prime your body for lactation. It can also be used as a way to relax, which has been shown to boost milk production in some cases. Breast massage can be done with or without oil and should include gentle strokes in an upward direction, focusing on the area around the nipple. You may also want to use circular motions around your nipples, as this can stimulate let-downs and increase blood flow to the area. Additionally, breast massage can help unblock any clogged ducts that might be inhibiting milk flow.
Be sure not to press too hard, though, as too much pressure can damage tissue and cause pain in the area. With regular practice, breast massage can help you achieve better milk production to provide optimal nourishment for your baby!
You're not alone, mama, in the struggle with a low breast milk supply.
It can be a difficult and draining experience. But, with your doctor's help and commitment to the process, you can potentially increase your breast milk supply. Utilize some of our tips, such as drinking plenty of fluids, trying lactation cookies or tea, nursing on demand, supplementation through pumping, getting adequate rest, and considering certain herbs and supplements for additional support. And most importantly, don't forget to nurture yourself first while caring for others- it's always a balancing act! We hope this post has empowered you to increase your breast milk supply so that you can nourish your little ones (or ones).