10 Simple Tips To Help Boost Your Milk Supply
I am currently sitting here breastfeeding my third baby girl who is almost three months old. This is my third time breastfeeding in four years. As much as I love breastfeeding and am thankful for the opportunity to do so, it hasn’t come without challenges.
When it comes to breastfeeding, there really is not a one size fits all approach. What works for some may not work for others. Each of my babies has presented different challenges with breastfeeding. However, there are a few things that have helped me boost my milk supply with all my babies.
I struggled a lot with my milk supply with my first baby. I made it nine months breastfeeding her.
When my second baby was born, I told myself I was going to do everything possible to help boost my milk supply from the start so that I wouldn’t struggle as much. Thankfully, I was able to produce plenty of milk for to eat and store. But it didn’t come without effort.
When she was six months old, I had already built a stash of 1000 ounces of breast milk. I used some of it for my older daughter but the rest I ended up having to throw away.
Unfortunately, I was forced to stop breastfeeding her around six months. She had devastating reflux and food allergies so the doctor suggested switching to a hypoallergenic formula to see if it helped. We tried EVERYTHING to continue breastfeeding however her doctor felt it would be best to put her on a special formula.
After my three experiences with breastfeeding, I can assure you that no matter what your situation, remember that “fed is best”. I support trying to boost your milk supply as much as possible however please don’t feel like a failure if you are not able to keep up with the demands of your baby.
There is so much pressure on moms these days and breastfeeding should not be one of them. Stressing too much about trying increase your milk may actually be suppressing your production.
So just try to relax and do the best you can! A hungry baby doesn’t care where the food comes from as long as their bellies are full!
And if anyone ever gives you a hard time about breastfeeding or not, please just send them my way! I have had my fair share of comments and I would be happy to set them straight! Kidding but not kidding, relax and enjoy the journey!
No mother should ever feel guilty for how their babies are fed. As long as they have full bellies and are thriving, who cares! I promise you your baby will not be mad at you 15 years from now if you were not able to breastfeed!
Okay, moving forward. But first,
Disclaimer- I am not an expert nor a lactation consultant. I am sharing what has worked for me and numerous other mamas who have reached out to me to share their experiences. This post outlines what held me produce 400 extra ounces in the first four weeks postpartum.
When Should you start pumping?
Milk production is based on supply and demand. If the breast is not emptied, then it doesnt matter what you do, you will not be able to increase the supply.
Why? Because if the breast is not fully emptied, your body thinks it is making enough milk and production will not increase.
After your baby is born, it will take a couple of days for your milk to come in. Until then, your baby is getting Colostrum which is rich in nutrients.
Just look at this picture and the difference between colostrum and when my milk came in.
When your milk first comes in after delivery, there is typically an oversupply until it begins to regulate based on the needs of your baby.
This is when I start pumping.
With my last two babies, I waited until I got home to start pumping since it takes a few days for the milk to come in and I didn’t want to lug my breast pump to the hospital.
In order to keep my supply high from the beginning, I started pumping the extra milk immediately which helped trick my body into thinking that it needed to continue producing more milk to meet the high demand.
Here are 10 Tips to increase Milk Fast
1. Drink More Water
Breastmilk is made up of 88% water. This means that if you are dehydrated, your body will struggle with producing milk.
The best way I have found to make sure I stay on top of my water intake is to drink a big glass of water every time I nurse or pump.
Even if you think you are drinking enough water, my advice, drink MORE!
Staying hydrated is especially important if you exercise. We lose a lot of water through sweat so make sure you are really upping your water intake, especially on days you workout.
My goal is to drink two of these every single day.
I always notice a dip in my supply immediately if I’m not getting enough fluids.
Find a water bottle that you love, and bring it with you everywhere you go. This will help remind you to stay hydrated.
2. Drink Gatorade
This is my absolute number one go-to for boosting milk supply.
I tell everyone who is breastfeeding to try it when they are feeling a drop in their supply. I discovered this best kept secret with with my first baby and now I swear by it.
The electrolytes are especially important if you are working out to help stay hydrated. Plus, it’s nice to have something to breakup the endless amounts of water you need to be drinking.
As a fit mom, I recommend choosing the low calorie versions such as G2 or Powerade Zero to avoid extra calories, sugar and weight gain.
3. Try Supplements
I have gone through my fare share of supplements to help boost my milk. During my second breastfeeding journey, I found Legendary Milk supplements to be the BEST for helping with boosting my milk. I also use Mothers Milk Tea.
4. Try a Heat Compress
Heat can help with circulation and help speed up let down. Have you ever heard of moms say they have gotten in the shower and start leaking milk? My mother used to tell me this would happen to her often. The combination of heat and relaxation can help you milk flow.
The easiest way to apply heat is with these amazing heating pads for your breasts! Give them a try!
5. Relax and get comfy
Seriously! If you are too tense or feeling stressed, this can definitely inhibit your milk supply. I really struggle with asking for help. I feel like I should be able to do everything on my own.
My second baby had horrible reflux and cried all the time. I wasn’t getting much sleep and I started noticing my milk was taking a little dip. Sleep deprivation on top of stress from having a fussy baby all the time, my supply definitely took a little dip.
I know not everyone has the option, but If you can, ask for help from family or your hubby.
You will spend a lot of time breastfeeding, especially in the early days so I suggest you get a good nursing pillow!
6. Try Hands on Pumping
I’ll me honest, this can be a little awkward and uncomfortable. However hands on pumping WORKS! Hands on pumping works by helping to completely drain the breast.
Massaging the breast while pumping can not only help maximize the amount of milk you pump with each session but it can also help you increase your overall breastmilk supply.
7. Make sure you are getting enough to eat
After nine months of seeing your body change, I know it can be tempting to cut calories to lose a little weight. But cutting calories too low can have in impact on your milk supply.
A breastfeeding mama needs about 2000 calories a day. If you are trying to lose some baby weight, I suggest slowly reducing your calories until you notice a dip in your supply. This will give a baseline of how many calories your body needs to keep up your milk supply.
Focus on eating healthy foods while avoiding empty calories and the weight will slowly start melting off.
8. Minimize Caffeine
This one is tough, especially when you’re sleep deprived and just trying to function throughout your day. However, caffeine is a diuretic. Not to mention, some babies are sensitive to caffeine. If you are struggling with boosting your milk supply, try reducing caffeine and upping your water intake.
9. Power Pump
There are so many different schedules for pumping but here is what I found works best for me.
I alternate breasts every other feeding because one breast is enough for my baby. However, if one side does not produce enough milk for your baby, be sure to switch sides during the feeding to ensure they are getting enough milk.
I will typically feed on one side, then pump on the other when I can. I switch the next feeding.
Once she is done eating, I pump on the side she nursed for about 5 minutes to keep the breast stimulated and make sure it’s fully drained. This can help “trick” your body into thinking it needs to make more milk and eventually you should see an increase.
If she completely empties my breasts, Ill switch sides. The reason I don’t switch sides is because I want her to get as much hind milk as possible. I alternate sides each feeding.
The first month or two, I do this throughout the night as well!
I don’t often pump in between feedings except in the middle of the night if my baby goes long stretches. This way I don’t run out of milk for her.
I know it sounds exhausting but this is how I was able to get 400 ounces in two weeks while still nursing!
Following this routine should help you see a significant increase in milk within a couple of days.
For more information on power pumping, the Lansinoh website is a great resource.
Okay, now that you have some tips to help boost your supply, you’ll need plenty of pumping supplies.
Here are my favorite’s:
- Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breastpump Starter Set.
- I was able to get mine free through our insurance. Be sure to check your insurance company to see if they cover breast pumps.
- 100 pack Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags – 100 ct I have tried knock off brands and they all leaked so I HIGHLY recommend these.
- 5-10 Medela Breastmilk collection and storage bottles
- 5-10 Medela Breast Shield valves and membranes (depending on how often you wash bottles and parts)
- Replacement tubing
- Heating pads for your breasts to help with circulation
For the first three weeks after my daughter was born, I stayed very committed to pumping after every feeding, even in the middle of the night.
It was exhausting, time consuming and at times and may feel like a full time job.
However, as much as I love breastfeeding, being able to leave my baby for a few hours at a time and know she had plenty of milk was very reassuring.
Be patient & Forgiving
No two mamas are the same. So please be patient and embrace the process! I cannot promise what has worked for me, will work for you. However, I hope you are willing to give it a try and let me know your experiences!
I am only one email away, I love chatting with other mamas!
Brooke is a certified Prenatal and Postnatal Exercise Specialist with a Bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Science. She is also a mom of 3 girls with more than 15 years of experience in health and fitness. Brooke’s goal at Struggles of a Fit Mom is to help motivate, educate and inspire other busy mamas who struggle with finding time, energy and motivation to take care of themselves in the chaos of motherhood.