How to increase breast milk supply
How to increase breast milk – 10 steps to success
In the early days and weeks of breastfeeding, many breastfeeding mothers start to worry about their milk supply, often feeling their supply is dropping and they haven’t got enough milk for their baby.
With these types of concerns, it’s important to look for the reliable signs to help you know whether your baby is getting enough milk. Additionally, being well informed on normal feeding patterns will help you to know whether you DO have an issue with your milk supply or not.
Only when you have considered all that information, will you be able to truly understand if your supply HAS dropped a little. If it has, then here are ten ways of how to produce more breast milk!
The importance of a good latch
First of all, your baby must latch well at the breast. If latched well, he is likely to get a far better mouthful of breast tissue and drain the breast better – and as milk comes off your breast, your body makes more. So latching is essential.
Increase time at the breast
It might seem obvious, but the second point is to increase your baby’s time at the breast.
It’s common for breastfeeding mothers to schedule feeds. Some believe that this is a good thing to do, especially if they are reading parenting books that are very strict and disciplined.
However, if your supply has dropped, it may be necessary to bring your baby to the breast more frequently to help boost your supply. Every one and a half to two hours throughout the day and at least every three hours at night will help to increase your milk supply.
Also, bring your baby to the breast for all reasons, giving your baby comfort, warmth, as well as nutrition. By doing so, it will help to stimulate your supply. During this time of increased feeding at the breast, try to keep your baby close for two to three days, where you spend lots of time with your baby – lots of rest, lots of feeding – and remember to feed yourself as well!
Also, make sure to offer both breasts at each feed. Ensure your baby is fed well from one side before offering the other, and doing this over a few days can make a huge difference to supply.
Skin to skin
Try skin to skin with your baby. Strip your baby down to only the nappy, and lie him against your bare chest for at least a couple of hours in every 24 hours.
Skin to skin helps to boost those lovely hormones that will keep you both calm and connected, and will also increase the hormones that make milk, particularly prolactin hormone, which is a fantastic way to boost your milk supply!
If your baby is quite sleepy and falling asleep at the breast a lot, and not actively swallowing, you may also find that the feeds tend to be taking a long time, perhaps even longer than 40 minutes.
Possibly your baby is not stimulating your supply very well, so it can be advantageous to use a technique called breast compression.
Try to allow all of your baby’s sucking needs to be at the breast. Pacifiers (dummies) often mask your baby’s feeding cues.
Some babies will suck on a dummy and, therefore, not suck at the breast, and some will feel satisfied enough to do that without actually coming to the breast and stimulating the milk supply.
How to increase milk supply when pumping
If you’re still not seeing those signs that your milk supply has increased, i.e., the weight gain and the wet and dirty nappies, then it may be necessary to offer a supplement alongside breastfeeding, temporarily.
These types of pumps are usually more effective than hand pumps. You can pump your milk after a feed, or even between feeds, and any extra milk can be given to your baby.
The great thing is that by using the pump, it will put in extra demand at the breast, causing the breast to empty more, and so because of the pump, your body will then make more milk on that particular breast.
Use a hospital-grade double pump
A hospital-grade double pump is an effective way to boost your milk supply.
If you find that with your regular pump that you’re not getting much milk or that the pumping sessions are taking too long, then look to rent a hospital-grade double pump.
These fantastic pumps will help you to get more yield of milk in less time, and they are very efficient – so that is always an option.
It is especially important to use a pump like this if you find that you are needing to give your baby formula because you are not producing enough milk with your present pump.
Galactagogues – Lactation supplements
You may also wish to use a galactagogue, a substance that may help to increase milk supply.
However, only consider a galactagogue if you find that even after doing all of the things above, you are STILL not seeing an increase in supply.
Galactogogues need to be taken on top of doing all of the above strategies, and can potentially increase milk supply within two to four days.
Don’t go it alone
It may seem obvious, but the ninth point is to get lots of rest while you’re trying to boost your supply.
Accept help from friends and family with household tasks and give yourself time to rest with your baby, and recuperate.
Get professional help
Finally, seek out skilled help from an IBCLC or a breastfeeding counselor. Also, have a chat with your doctor to check your baby, medically, for reassurance, and your health visitor (public health nurse).
However, if your baby is losing weight, then this is a more difficult situation. It could mean your baby may need to be supplemented very quickly with your pumped milk or formula until your supply starts to increase.
It is right to acknowledge that there is a small percentage of women who, for various reasons, usually anatomical or medical, may not be able to generate a full milk supply even with all of those interventions mentioned. If this is the case, the great news is that you can still go forward with breastfeeding, where your baby can still receive some of your breast milk and a supplement of formula as well.
Hopefully after having worked through these ten different methods, you’ll no longer have the worry of how to increase milk supply, and that you’ll have all the confidence you need.
Review dates, references & further resources
Version 1.1 published in March 2019. Next review date: Jan 2022
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