Increasing Your (Breast) Milk Supply

If there is one things you have determined from my blog is that I am a pro-breastfeeding Mommy. In working with new Moms and newborns for the past fifteen years, I have always loved helping others and sharing my knowledge with those who enlist my postpartum services. When I learn of a new “trick to the trade”, I am always the one to get the word out. For me, I did have a a lot of school under my belt; however nothing was a better crash course in breastfeeding than nursing my own children. With my oldest, Gabriella, In the first six weeks we literally had every nursing problem thrown at us…and we overcame. All of them! Sure I could have given up, give her formula and go on with my life- and that would have been easy. However, what is easy; is not always right. As you may remember from previous posts, my daughter had horrible acid reflux that was causing her a great deal of stomach discomfort and me, a lot of sleepless nights and heartache. The Doctors and specialists wanted me to use a very expensive line of formula, wanted me to keep pumping my newborn full of prescription drugs and “watch her for surgery”. Thankfully, I found the tools to make more milk and feed my daughter less formula. Like magic, Once formula was fully eliminated, my daughter, Gabriella never needed any zantac or supplements, ever again. Now that I know what formula has in it, the awful cancer causing ingredients, the traces of bleach and arsenic, the long list of warnings, the several recent recalls, baby deaths  and all the lies of marketing propaganda that goes into it, I am every so thankful I stopped formula and found a solution that worked better for us. That solution was increasing my breast-milk supply.

-Please note that low milk supply is determined by the babies diaper output. If your newborn is wetting less than 5 diapers a day and has less then 5 poops a day, then please see a Lactation Consultant for a weight-feed-weigh.

If I had a dollar for every time a new Mom asks and tells me of having a low or no supply, I’d be a millionaire. I first think that this “problem” is so common is because there are a lot of myths around breastfeeding and ‘having enough milk’.

  • First and foremost: Labor and Deliver Naturally. It really is better for you and the baby. Drugs given in inductions (pitocin, stadol, nubane, cytotec, epidural etc) are known to cause baby to go into distress and will be hard for the babies to eat in those first days as they come off (withdrawal) from the drugs. Now, not every baby will suffer effects, but most do. Getting induced or any use of pitocin will put the baby into distress and often ends in C Section. Instead, let your baby chose its own birthday. If you are overdue (42-43+ weeks), maybe see an acupuncturist, trying pumping for 45 min/walking for 30 routine- do 5 cycles. (I have known, a ton of moms go into labor from doing pumping/walking cycles after getting a session of acupuncture) Check with your Midwife and explore your natural options.
  • Just say NO! A lot of the culprit for having low or no supply begins in the hospital, so if you are expecting, ensure the hospital you are delivering at is “baby friendly”. Also make sure the nurses know you want absolutely no bottles/formula given to your new baby. Also request that your baby stays with you. (Unless there is a serious medical issue that arises) Put this in your birth plan and give it to the nurses once you arrive at the place you are birthing. Stay Firm! If you deliver  at a birthing center or at home; you won’t need a birth plan. I don’t recommend offering a first bottle (of expressed breast-milk) until baby is 4-5 weeks old and breastfeeding has been well established.
  • Put baby to breast as much as possible. From the first minutes/hours of life, do skin to skin contact. Nothing stimulates your breast to make milk than your baby nursing directly from you. At every single feeding. Some people  forget how pure and gentile breast-milk is and how quickly it digests. Breast-milk digests much faster and easier than formula, so in turn, baby’s tummy will empty faster and he/she will want to eat more. Its is not because you are not making enough and that you’re starving your baby. You are not!  Put that negative thought to rest, because its simply not true! Baby eats a lot because you are cozy, your arms are a safe haven, you are warm and your milk is the perfect temperature for them; it tastes good. You, the Momma, take care of all there needs with one little latch. If you only nurse three times a day then of course, your body will only make enough milk for three feedings. So it is important to nurse and nurse a lot in those first few weeks/months to establish a sufficient supply. Feed on demand. Even if just nursed, feed again. Your baby knows it needs and if it need to nurse all day, let it happen. Frequent nursing is newborn newborn behavior.
  • All or Nothing: Say you have a low supply, it doesn’t mean that you cannot nurse. It does not have to be all or nothing. There are ways to increase supply. Its actually a very easy fix! Feeding your baby some  is better than none. Don’t give up Mom, you got this.
  • Nipple Confusion: If your baby is having issues latching, you can still nurse. Medela makes wonderful nipple shields that you place over your nipple. It helps pull your nipple out, feels like a nipple/bottle to the baby and if your nipples are sore, helps a lot with sore, cracked nipples. They can be purchased online, in retailers like Target and many breastfeeding boutiques. *If your baby cannot latch, please have a Lactation Consultant check your baby for a tongue tie. Hurtful/raw nipples (blisters, soreness, bleeding), latching issues and bottle preference are signs of a tongue tie. When a baby cannot latch properly due to a tongue tie, it will effect your supply. The baby cannot effectively transfer the milk (get the milk out of your breast) and in turn Mom can get clogged ducts, mastitis and low supply. 90% of the time when a baby doesn’t properly latch, it is from a tongue or lip tie. You can also try different nursing positions. Again, have a lactation consultant show you how. 
  • Support  Eliminate those who are not supportive. The nay-sayers and those who say, “I fed my baby formula and they came out fine”, can just wait to see your new baby. You don’t need any negativity around you while you are in a delicate state. I am here to tell you that YES, you can breastfeed. You absolutely CAN! You are not broken and you are not failing as a mother. There are six billion people on this planet, our species is Millions of years old and formula is only 60 years old. What did we do before Enfimil and Similac? We nursed. Our bodies are wonderful works of art that are fully capable of feeding the children we birth. You CAN do this. Go into a quiet room, lay in your bed, Wipe the tears, whip out your boob and latch that baby on. Love and bonding will follow.
  • Supplements There are those who need to up the supply in lieu of going back to work or letting Dad have some feeding time. (Fathers can bond without bottle feeding) For whatever the reason, there are natural herbs out there that are known to increase breast milk production. I highly recommend More Milk Plus (Special Blend) pills, Made by Motherlove Herbal Company. I took 3 pills, 3 times a day and drank a bottle of water (12oz)  every 90 minutes. I also took 3-4 Fenegreek and 3 Blessed Milk Thistle capsules everyday. I also recommend Goats Rue drops  and a few cups of Lactation Tea, everyday. (Again, I am not a doctor so check with your doctor before starting any supplement) If one of my clients is having a hard time producing, (at the recommendation of a trained and certified Lactation Consultant) I will bring them some More Milk Plus Pills, Blessed Milk Thistle, Goats Rue, Fenegreek capsules, raw oatmeal and a box of Lactation Tea to take through out the day. Normally within two to three days, I have a milkin mamma on my hands! These herbs worked wonders for me. Because of my highly medicated birth, My supply was low. Within 24 hours, I went from pumping 2 oz total to almost 11 oz at every feeding. (These figures are not typical for mothers, I have a rare case of over supply) I had so much milk I fed adopted twins and ended up donating over 1,800 ounces to a milk for premature babies in dire need. It can be done Moms! You can find the herbs and  drops at the health food store, on amazon and through the Motherlove Herbal Website. While taking herbs to increase milk production, nurse your baby as much as you can, always put baby to the breast, do a lot of skin to skin and try to stop formula. Every feeding should be at the breast, for optimum results.
  • Pumping Another good way to boost supply is to wait 30 minutes after a feed and pump for 15 minutes after each feed. If your baby is nursing from you frequently, do not pump. Just nurse your baby as your baby is the best simulator. Do not get discouraged if you only get an ounce or two out. That is ok. Please know that pumping doesn’t empty the breast like a baby does. **DO NOT GAUGE YOUR SUPPLY BY WHAT YOU PUMP OUT!**  Some pumps work better than others. Personally, I have not had good luck with hand held pumps. Hygeia and Medela Pump in Style (double electric hospital-grade)seem to be the top two fav’s among Moms these days. Whatever pump you use, Do not get discouraged, do not give up. You are doing a good job.
  • Supplemental Nursing System is made by Medela and is great for moms who are needing to feed there baby and still stimulate there breasts by feeding. This little tool also helps adoptive mothers to lactate. If supply is low, this this a wonderful tool that kills two birds with one stone. An SNS can be purchased at most Breastfeeding boutiques, amazon, and on Medela’s website.
  • Eat and Drink  In the days following having my first daughter, my Mom totally took care of me. She did things I didn’t think to do. She put a little basket on the night stand filled with string cheese, crackers, granola bars, Trail Mix, apples and a few bottles of water. I would nurse in the baby’s room, sitting in a rocking chair. When I sat down to nurse I would snack and drink water. I know staying hydrated and well nourished is a key element to keeping a good supply. Feed yourself so you can feed your baby.
  • Breast Size does NOT Dictate your ability to breastfeed. Breast size is a result of fatty tissue and since breast milk is made from Mammary glands, the two are unrelated. Do not believe the myths! Keep nursing.
  • Visit a Lactation Consultant if you have any issues with nursing or if you feel like you need someone to show you how to get the perfect latch. There are tons of great books out there that are available at the library and have great information on breastfeeding. Just do not give up. Seek help from a qualified Lactation Consultant. We are here to help you and support you to a successful breastfeeding experience.
  • You Tube If you are interested in seeing videos and how-to-examples of a good latch, how to breastfeed, positions etc, there are a ton of great videos on You Tube.

A little video for your viewing pleasure:

Again. I am not a doctor.

I am a Lactation Specialist and a Postpartum Doula. Boobs and Babies are all I do.

We are here to help.

Disclaimer:  Low Milk supply is diagnosed from a Lactation Consultant, please see a IBCLC for an official diagnosis. This page is not intended to treat or diagnose any breastfeeding issues. Please see a doctor or IBCLC, first. 

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Debbie Colligan
    Jul 20, 2012 @ 18:41:42

    Every now and then I NEED to be told that I do have enough milk for my son:) I found you on Respect the Breast and have read and re read this a few times~ You have been so helpful:)


  2. Angela Blake
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 12:28:22

    I also found you on Respect The Breast. Thank you for this post, I have an 11 week old that has never latched. I have only pumped and going on my supply is lower and lower and she’s needing more and more! This helps a lot!


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