Many breastfeeding women want to know how to increase milk supply at some point during their breastfeeding journey.
For the vast majority of women, there is absolutely nothing wrong with their breasts or their ability to produce enough milk.
It doesn't matter if you have big or small breasts, they are designed to make milk.
Two major underlying causes of breastmilk supply problems is poor latch or scheduled feeding.
The good news is these problems can be easily rectified.
How To Increase Milk Supply – A Key Factor
Something every breastfeeding woman and her partner needs to know is that breastmilk supply responds to demand.
So if you're wondering how to increase milk supply, know that the more your baby feeds, the more milk your breasts will be signalled to make. Babies thrive when they are able feed when they ask for it – just like you feel better when you eat and drink when you need it.
You will not — I repeat — you will not create a dependent, clingy child by responding to his or her needs. You will help to create a secure, independent child because he knows his most basic needs will be met.
If you suspect you may have issues with your baby's latch, or even if you’re not sure, seek the advice of an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). They can observe and diagnose a breastfeeding issue problem very quickly. Then you'll be back on the path of a successful breastfeeding journey. Even if nothing is wrong, you'll have that reassurance that everything is fine.
Many new mothers get frustrated and confused receiving conflicting breastfeeding information in hospital after they have their baby. Often those who help them do not have a great deal of lactation training, and may not be breastfeeders themselves.
Of course, a small percent of women will have medical problems causing milk supply issues, for example hypoplasia (insufficient glandular tissue) resulting in supply issues, but this is in the minority. Again, seeing an IBCLC will help you to get this diagnosed.
How To Increase Milk Supply – 9 Tips
Here are my 9 best tips for increasing your breastmilk supply, which help both mother and baby to be happy and healthy during your breastfeeding relationship:
Milk Supply Tip #1: Ditch Any Feeding Routines
Feed your baby when he or she appears to want the breast. You can also prevent an upset, crying baby if you pick up early hunger signals – crying is a late hunger signal.
Offering the breast even when you’re not sure what your baby wants does no harm.
Remember, the more your baby feeds, the more your breasts will supply. When in doubt, get your boobs out!
Milk Supply Tip #2: Check Your Latch
Your baby doesn’t nipple feed, he breastfeeds. Make sure he has a wide open mouth and the nipple is going towards the back of his mouth. You can watch some helpful instructional video clips at nbci.ca.
Hire a lactation consultant, ideally an IBCLC (international board certified lactation consultant – the gold standard in lactation care) to check your latch if you’re not sure.
A lactation consultant can diagnose any issues and give you valuable peace of mind. Please try see one before you self-diagnose with low supply or start using formula. GPs are not trained in such lactation care and often may not be able to give you the help you need.
Milk Supply Tip #3: Avoid Dummies/Pacifiers, Nipple Shields And Bottles Unless Absolutely Necessary
The less your baby is on your breast, the less your nipples are being stimulated, so the less milk you will make.
Check with a lactation consultant before you decide to get a nipple shield – your sore nipples could be due to a poor latch, so correcting the problem first is important.
Milk Supply Tip #4: Trust Your Baby, Not The Clock!
Of course your baby knows what he needs, his brain is wired for survival.
The clock is wired for… well, the time.
If your baby is taking a while to feed, let him! I’ve never seen a cow in the paddock with a watch on – we are the only species that considers the time when feeding our young.
Milk Supply Tip #5: Ditch Or Avoid Formula Top-Up Feeds
Because the less you breastfeed your baby, the less milk your breasts will make. The more formula you give your baby, the less milk you’ll make. Worse yet, if you head down the path of offering formula, your baby may wean and start to refuse the breast. Unfortunately, this a common and unintended problem.
Milk Supply Tip #6: Make Sure You’re Eating A Healthy, Balanced, Diet
Make sure you’re eating enough nutritious food to produce sufficient breastmilk. Going on a diet is not recommended, unless it's specifically breastfeeding friendly.
Breastfeeding mothers need more calories than a non-breastfeeding woman, but they should be nutritious calories, not empty calories which can be found in processed foods, sugars and wheat/grain products.
Make sure you’re getting plenty of protein (which keeps you full and your blood sugar levels stable), good fats (butter, avocado, chia seeds, eggs, wild caught salmon), fresh veggies in a range of colours, nuts and seeds.
Eggs are a very nutritious food containing protein and good fats. Three or four eggs cooked in butter can make for a very filling and delicious breakfast!
Milk Supply Tip #7: Be Available To Your Baby 24×7, If Possible
Babies thrive having 24×7 access to their mothers. Being able to breastfeed (from your breasts not a bottle) anytime is optimal for your baby and breastmilk supply.
Plan lots of skin to skin time to help with the production of oxytocin, which is involved with milk production. Skin to skin time also encourages your baby to latch more often.
Milk Supply Tip #8: Make Sure You’re Drinking Plenty Of Water
Breastfeeding makes for thirsty work, and your body will suffer if you’re not drinking plenty of water – to the tune of constipation, haemorrhoids and nasty anal fissures. Especially in the early days, upping your water intake may save you a great deal of discomfort and pain.
Taking quality electrolytes, like Endura (in Australia), can be a great help. Avoid commercial sports drinks – they're usually lolly waters, full of sugar.
When you don’t drink enough water, your energy, concentration and focus also suffers.
Milk Supply Tip #9: Get Help Sooner Rather Than Later
My best advice to you as a new mother would be to make sure you reach out for help as soon as you can. Don’t struggle in silence or give up on yourself.
Breastfeeding troubles can quickly spiral out of control and result in a dash to the supermarket for some formula, when in many cases, it’s not needed at all. Just some good old fashioned advice and support.
No matter if you call a breastfeeding helpline, source a lactation consultant or purchase some good breastfeeding books as a precaution (see the list in the article below), know that help is available and make yourself familiar with them in case the need arises.
- BellyBelly’s 10 Top Breastfeeding Tips
- 7 Best Breastfeeding Books (make sure you own at least one of these for a quick and easy reference point).
- How Breastfeeding Is A Confidence Game
- Not Enough Milk: Concerned About Your Milk Supply?
- Is My Baby Hungry? Do I Have Enough Milk?
What helped you to increase your milk supply? Share your comments below!