Hi mamma! If you’ve landed on this page I assume you’re desperately searching for ways on how to increase breast milk output and increase milk supply for your little one. I know that struggle. It seems like you can’t get enough ounces no matter how long you pump. You’re constantly stressed that your baby needs more milk than you’re producing (btw the stress isn’t helping your output). I’m certain that whoever coined the term “don’t cry over spilled milk” had never spoken to a nursing mamma. However, there are a few PROVEN things you can do to increase your output. While I can’t promise that all of a sudden you’ll be stockpiling 20+ oz. a day, these tactics will work.
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Tip #1 on how to increase breast milk supply: Add extra nursing sessions
I’m sure this isn’t a revolutionary idea, but in case you weren’t aware yet, nursing is based on a supply and demand system. The more your baby nurses and drinks, the more milk you’ll produce. If you offer the breast more often, you’ll end up producing more. Depending on where you are in your nursing journey this may be easier said than done. If you’re in the newborn phase or on maternity leave (or at home with your little) just offer more often. Once you’ve already gone back to work and are separated for long stretches of time this can become more complicated.
If your baby isn’t sleeping through the night, nurse her when she wakes up. There is so much advice on sleep and night weaning its hard to keep straight, but if you’re worried about milk supply now is not the time to be stringent on timing. If the baby wants to nurse, nurse. You can also begin offering a dream feed* for extra stimulation. Many mammas offer the dream feed to get a little more sleep overnight, but an added benefit is the extra session to boost your supply.
*A dream feed is a nursing session done before you go to bed. Baby has normally been asleep for a while and you rouse her only enough to latch on. Many babies sleep right through the entire session. This allows you to get a bit more sleep since baby now has a full belly!
Tip #2 on how to increase breast milk supply: Power Pump
Power pumping isn’t my favorite piece of advice, mainly because it sucks. No one wants to be hooked up to a breast pump every hour, but when you want those extra ounces, sometimes you’re desperate. Power pumping is done for 15 minutes every hour, for x hours.
The nursing version of this is to do a “breastfeeding vacation” where you take your baby to bed for a weekend and nurse every hour. Again, this becomes much harder if you’ve already gone back to work. The last thing I wanted to do on a weekend was be stuck in bed all day – but to each his own.
Either way – both of these options work due to the extra stimulation. The increased sessions will empty the breast fully more frequently, stimulating increased milk production.
Tip #3 on how to increase breast milk supply: Lactation Cookies
I loved these lactation cookies. I’m not even going to pretend that these worked due to the lactation producing ingredients, because I didn’t even add the brewer’s yeast. The oats may have had something to do with it, but anytime I ate these I swear I pumped a few more ounces each day. However, the point of this recommendation is not to promise that fenugreek, oats, or brewer’s yeast are magic ingredients.
What WILL make a difference in output is ensuring you’re eating well and have the right nutrition to feed both you and your baby. The oats did seem to help me. Healthy proteins, fruits and vegetables and ensuring you’re eating enough are all incredibly important for output. Now is not the time to try and cut calories to lose weight. If you’re having output issues and have been dieting, now may be a good time to put that on hold. Breastfeeding is a natural calorie burner. You’ll lose the weight – just don’t expect it to come off overnight.
Tip #4 on how to increase breast milk supply: Add a morning pump
You can substitute the word morning for pre-bed, middle of the night, extra mid-day, etc. Just add in an extra pump. I did the mornings because I was already doing a dream feed and there was no way I was waking up more in the middle of the night. The little lady wasn’t sleeping through and I needed some rest. I also produced the most in the morning, so I’d let C nurse, then would pump afterward before I went to work. In the early days, this is when I’d get 6-8 additional ounces and was how I built my freezer stash. Later, I was lucky to get 2-4 ounces, but these extra ounces are always what got us through the day. I never pumped enough at work to fill two to three bottles, but we were able to exclusively use breastmilk for 15 months.
Whatever time works best for you is when you should add in this extra session. Again, the purpose here is to empty the breast more fully, frequently. Don’t add in the session right before your baby typically nurses since you’ll want to make sure there is something for her to eat. Other than that, you can choose the timing.
Tip #5 on how to increase breast milk supply: Skin-to-skin
As soon as your baby was born you probably learned the importance of skin-to-skin contact. It’s good for both baby and mamma. The hormones produced by having your baby close aid in milk production and have mental benefits for both of you. Getting extra cuddles is beneficial on multiple levels. If you can do direct skin to skin that’s best. I needed to wear a bra most of the time in the newborn days because it worked so well I’d leak. After a few months, I just didn’t have the patience to sit around topless – but we did try to get in some skin-to-skin when I wanted a little supply boost.
I know a lot of these tips aren’t revolutionary and you’ve probably heard them before. It would be way easier if there was a magic ingredient or pill you could take to boost your milk supply. However, I don’t think anyone has found that yet or mammas would probably breastfeed a lot longer. Taking any (or all) of the five tips above to help improve your output will hopefully reduce some of the stress you have around providing enough milk for your baby. Although breastfeeding isn’t easy, it’s absolutely worth it.
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Wishing you a few good pumps and extra ounces,