Many breastfeeding mothers struggle with low milk supply at some point while exclusively breastfeeding their baby.
I have breastfed all five of my babies and each unique breastfeeding experience has brought me to the same point – looking for ways to increase my milk supply! Now, I usually have an over-abundance of milk during the first three months of breastfeeding. Around month 4, however, I typically experience a drop in my milk supply seemingly overnight. This has been very frustrating and has led to countless of hours searching Google for “ways to increase my milk supply FAST”!
I have finally found some tried-and-true breastfeeding tips that have actually worked with Baby #4 and #5. We are entering our sixth month of breastfeeding our fifth child and my supply has kept steady for my larger-sized baby (he wears 12 month clothes and weighs over 22lbs!).
What Causes Low Milk Supply?
Breastfeeding moms may experience an over-supply of milk in the beginning of their breastfeeding journeys. The body produces more than the baby needs in the beginning of their life (this is a great time to stock up on extra milk for your freezer). Anytime between a few weeks or a few months, the body begins to regulate according to the needs and demands of the baby.
The amount of milk a mom makes is determined by supply and demand.
It can be a common experience for breastfeeding moms to have a sudden decline in their milk supply. Many factors can cause this drop: stress, a mother’s return to work, increase in bottles, return of your menstrual cycle, or simply not taking care of oneself. The good news is that you can increase your milk supply quickly and get it back to what your baby needs.
I, unfortunately, have had lots of experiences with low milk production. It hasn’t been easy for me, and it was trial and error to discover what worked. But thankfully, the following tips changed my nursing life with Baby #4 and now with #5!!
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10 Tips to Increase Your Milk Supply Quickly
1) Drink Water
I know, I know – we’ve all been told it as mothers! But truly, I can’t begin to tell you how much drinking water has helped increase my milk supply this time around! Breastfeeding moms need to be drinking water regularly throughout the day. This helps the body stay hydrated, which allows for it to make more milk. It’s generally recommended to consume 1/2 to 3/4 of an ounce per pound of your body weight daily. And you might need even more than that if you are breastfeeding.
TIP: Use the large water container hospitals give you during your labor to keep track of how much you are drinking. Or, if you’re a fan of stainless steel water bottles like me, I love this one for its size and ability to keep my water cold. Drink 3-4 of these daily if possible.
2) Eat Lactation Friendly Foods
There are several foods that help increase breastmilk supply. These foods might already be part of your well-balanced diet. Oatmeal, barley, garlic, fennel, chickpeas, sesame seeds, almonds, flaxseed, brewer’s yeast, and ginger root. Carefully monitor the increase in your milk supply as you eat more of these foods. When you are producing enough milk, cut back on these lactogenic foods to avoid oversupply.
3) Lactation cookies
Nursing mothers tend to be hungry most of the time! Our bodies are creating the dietary needs for another human being! It’s important to have healthy snacks on hand, and lactation cookies are the perfect snack to help increase your milk while nursing. You can make them with a few of the above-mentioned foods like oatmeal, flaxseed, and brewer’s yeast. This recipe is rather delicious…and if you’re craving something sweet, throw in a few chocolate chips into your recipe.
Tip: Eat 1-2 cookies either before or during nursing sessions.
4) Nurse Often!
This was a hard one for me to do as I prefer to have my babies on a schedule. But as my last baby was a BIG boy (weighing almost 12 lbs when he was born!), he required nearly twice as many feedings as my other babies did. I ended up nursing him every 2 hrs for 4 months! It was exhausting, but now at 6 months I am not struggling with my milk supply like I have with my previous four babies. As an experienced breastfeeding mom, trust me when I say this is an important tip to keeping your milk supply up! You can still have your baby on a schedule; just nurse more often. Even short nursing sessions are helpful to give your milk a boost, as it will signal your body to make more.
5) Use a Haakaa
This is my must-have gift for every new mom! I honestly can’t believe I nursed four babies without it. This small, silicone item has been instrumental in saving milk AND signaling my body to make more. You place this on the other breast during breastfeeding and it captures the extra milk during your letdown. I also felt that it stimulated my other breast more to make a little extra milk. When you’re a mom struggling to have enough milk for your baby, any extra stimulation is welcomed!
6) Essential Oils
Essential oils are typically my go-to fix for many health-related issues and low milk supply is one of them! The most common oils you can use to boost your milk are fennel, basil, and lavender. You can apply these topically or diffuse them for a certain amount of time. Always dilute your oils before putting them on your skin!
Tip #1: Make a roller bottle with your choice of oil. Fill with your carrier oil (either coconut or almond oil) and add 9-12 drops of the essential oil. Rub on the sides of your breast to stimulate your milk production several times a day. Having a roller bottle on hand will make it easier to apply throughout the day.
Tip #2: Place a diffuser by your bed at night.
I literally used fennel just today about 30 minutes before I nursed my little man. He’s been rather distracted lately and hasn’t been nursing as strongly. I decided to try out this tip this afternoon and I was very happy to notice a different in my milk supply when he did nurse!
7) Nursing Teas/Herbal Supplements
I am not a huge fan of tea, but other moms I know simply rave about these nursing teas. They typically include a combination of some of the following herbs: fenugreek, milk thistle, blessed thistle, goat’s rue, and alfalfa. Two of the most popular commercial teas that you can purchase are:
You can definitely make your own tea as well. This recipe from Wellness Mama combines various herbs and is rather simple to make, which is nice for busy, exhausted moms!
8) Skin to skin
We are told this as new mothers when we first have our baby – there are so many benefits to doing skin to skin with your baby. As the baby gets older, this becomes a little more impractical and difficult to spend time doing, especially if you have multiple children. However, it is very effective in activating your milk supply and bonding with your baby. One of my favorite ways to do this is the next suggestion – take a shower with your baby.
9) Shower/Take Bath with Baby (Heat)
Heat is a wonderful way to get your milk flow going. Taking a shower with your baby accomplishes several things at once. First, you get to take a shower! I will be honest, I don’t always get a shower in every day! You also will get some wonderful skin to skin time with your baby. Finally, the heat of the shower will hopefully fill your breasts for a letdown. I always seem to have one when I take a shower.
10) Warm Compress
If you aren’t able to take a shower, a warm compress on your breasts before and during nursing may help. Warm a washcloth with hot water or use a magic salt sock (like the one mentioned here as a home remedy for ear infections) and place on the top and sides of your breast. Try this before you feed your baby to see if it helps with a stronger letdown.