Useful Tips on How to Increase Milk Supply
As a fellow nursing mom, one of my greatest fears was, “What happens if I quit producing milk?”
I have to believe most breastfeeding and pumping moms have had that thought and even that fear. Even seasoned moms who have done it more than once have tried to figure out how to increase milk supply.
When you have the pressure of being someone’s one and only source of nourishment, the pressure is on, and at times, it can seem like a daunting weight to bear.
Thankfully, there are some things you can do when you either, aren’t producing as much milk as usual, or you want to make sure your supply continues to be plentiful.
Some moms have even asked specific questions, such as how to increase milk supply at 6 months, or how to increase milk supply at 8 months.
There really isn’t going to be a difference based upon the age of your baby. Each recommendation listed here should work no matter how old your baby is if it’s going to work for you. If you’re a momma who is exclusively pumping, trying to figure out how to increase milk supply when pumping may be as simple as finding the solution from this list.
Each piece of advice listed below was either shared with me or is something I have found in my own research.
Any time I share helpful breastfeeding or health information in general, I always want to make it clear that I am not a professional, just a fellow momma, and it’s important that you always reach out to your healthcare provider with any concerns or healthcare questions.
*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. I only recommend products I love or would personally use.
What is a Galactogue and Why Should You Care?
Each of the items I am going to share has helped increase milk supply is some women. Not every woman reacts the same way to each thing, which is why I am including several different things you can try.
A galactagogue is a substance that increases milk supply, but it isn’t fully known how or why it works.
Galactagogue’s come in the form of food, herbal supplements, and even medications.
How to Increase Milk Supply
Here’s a funny story for you.
Picture this- I’m a first-time mom, with a nursing baby, and my first period hits. If you’re a first-time mom, then you may have noticed a scary dip in your milk supply for a few days when your period came back too. It made me PANIC!
So, I did what any frantic mom would do. I searched the internet for something I could do quickly, and I whipped up a batch up lactation cookies. Smart- right?
Unbeknownst to me… the recipe was for 6 dozen!
Thankfully, I had a friend at school who was also nursing, so I shared them with her.
But seriously, when your milk supply dips, it can make you do crazy things.
The lactation cookie recipe I used wasn’t bad, but I know some of them are likely even better than what I made.
As any chocolate loving momma would do, I also added in a scoop of M&M’s to make them a bit more palatable. Chocolate can make anything better, right? Here’s a lactation recipe for you to try!
So, what is it in these cookies that help increase milk supply? You use something called brewer’s yeast., and brewer’s yeast has been known to boost breast milk supply.
There are also some really great, reputable companies, such as Mrs. Patel’s that make lactation cookies for breastfeeding moms who want to either increase or maintain their milk supply.
This idea of drinking Gatorade to increase milk supply is new to me.
I have heard that the color of the Gatorade is an important piece of this working, and you’ll want to grab either blue or red. If you shy away from a red dye, grab the blue.
Drink a couple of cups of Gatorade and give it a few hours. Some of the stories I have heard from breastfeeding moms is that their milk supply increased that quickly. For others, it took a little longer, and for some, it didn’t work at all.
I still think something as simple as drinking a Gatorade is worth a shot at increasing your breast milk supply.
One thing I struggled with during my pregnancies was low iron, also known as anemia. I had to take an iron supplement for the duration of my pregnancies.
Why does that matter when we’re talking about breast milk production?
One reason some women struggle to produce breast milk is that of low iron.
Thankfully, there are foods like oatmeal that are high in iron, which may be the reason that eating oatmeal, whether by itself or added to cookies can help increase a mom’s breast milk supply.
If you’re trying to figure out which one to choose, between the old-fashioned, and the instant, go with the old-fashioned.
Pumping After Each Feeding
After my first, I knew I was going to be going back to work. That was one of the main conversations I had with the lactation consultants I saw at the hospital. I wanted to know how to approach pumping and preparing a freezer milk stash before returning to work.
It was interesting because I felt like I was given a couple of different answers from each consultant. More or less, they said you could begin pumping around the 3- to 6-week mark. They recommended that I begin by pumping after each feeding (during the day), and then storing that milk.
One thing to note is that when pumping after each feeding, you need to be careful to not tell your body to overproduce. If you begin to feel engorged and like your producing more milk than you need, just cut down on the number of times you’re pumping after feeding.
By pumping after each feeding, you’ll also get the chance to learn how to set the settings on your breast pump and become more confident for times when you may find yourself pumping away from home, especially if you’re returning to work.
If you aren’t familiar with power pumping, don’t worry, it’s simple.
First, make sure you have a quality breast pump. I HIGHLY recommend the Spectra S1. After a rough go with a couple of other breast pumps, I finally found the Spectra, and it was amazing! Read more about the Spectra and why I love it!
For power pumping, all you need to do is pump for 20 minutes, rest for 10 minutes, pump for 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes, and pump for 10 minutes.
Power pumping is designed to mimic a cluster feeding session with your baby.
Power pumping is for obvious reasons, one of the most natural ways you can attempt to boost your milk supply.
When you’re a momma scared about losing your breast milk supply, you’ll try just about anything.
This was me. I did some research and came across something called Fenugreek.
Fenugreek is a herbal supplement you can take that can potentially boost your breast milk supply.
Each package will have instructions on how many pills to take and how often to take them.
Fenugreek does have a REALLY strange smell, so prepare yourself for that. It got to a point that I knew I needed to take it but struggled to swallow it because of the smell. I ended up holding my nose and swallowing quickly. Then I had something close by to eat to clear out the strange taste.
If the Fenugreek pill is too much for you, you can also try drinking Fenugreek tea.
You can usually expect to see an increase in your milk supply within 24 to 72 hours.
It’s important to note that you can see some potentially negative side effects from Fenugreek. I’m including a link to a list of Fenugreek side effects, but, some of the most common are an upset stomach, diarrhea, and maple syrup smell with your urine.
Make sure to check with your doctor before beginning a Fenugreek supplement.
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Blessed thistle is another herb that can help increase your milk supply.
Much like fenugreek, blessed thistle does have a strange smell. If you can get past that, you’ll be good.
Many people claim that taking blessed thistle paired with fenugreek is your best chance for blessed thistle increasing your milk supply.
If you’re pregnant, it’s imperative that you speak with a medical professional before beginning a blessed thistle supplement. There is insufficient research to prove whether or not blessed thistle is safe for pregnant women.
Upspring Baby Milk Flow Powder Drink Mix
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There a lot of drinks available that claim to boost milk supply. I personally never tried any of them, but this is one that has been recommended to me.
Follow the instructions and mix the powder with water. The powder has both fenugreek and blessed thistle in it, which is likely why it is so well-known and recommended to boost breast milk supply.
I check it out on Amazon, and the reviews for this product were awesome! Check it out for yourself and see if it’s for you.
Avoid Pacifiers and Bottles
So, I am a failure at this one. Each of my kids was taking a pacifier by at least two weeks. One of them even started with the pacifier at a week.
I checked with my pediatrician to gather advice on what I should do. I would nurse, and the baby would seem satisfied. Then shortly thereafter, like within 10 minutes or so, the baby would begin fussing.
We quickly discovered that my babies were soothed by the sucking action, even if nothing was coming out.
The pacifier worked for us, but I know it isn’t for everyone, especially that soon.
As far as the bottle goes, I know it isn’t always a choice, but rather a necessity that your baby be given a bottle sooner than recommended. That’s ok.
If you’re exclusively pumping, your baby already has a bottle.
Doing a combination between the breast and the bottle may make you fearful that once they have the quick flow of a bottle nipple, they’ll no longer want to nurse and go on a nursing strike. This was me.
Thankfully, I had many great friends who were always willing to share great advice with me, and I want to share that.
If you have to give your baby a bottle, and the flow is quicker than nursing, there is something you can do without switching bottles. Most baby bottles come with a level 1 or level 2 flow nipples. Each nipple will have a number and as the number increases, the flow increases, meaning the baby is getting milk more quickly. All you need to do is purchase a lower flow nipple, I used the preemie flow, and this will allow your baby to get milk at a closer pace of nursing.
Offer Both Sides at Each Feeding
When nursing, you want to make sure that you’re ALWAYS offering both breasts at every feeding. Even if your baby seems full and if no longer interested, offer it anyway.
By emptying both sides every time, you’re telling your body it needs to make more milk.
If your baby doesn’t need to nurse on the other side, you can always pump and empty the other breast so that your body will maintain, and possibly even increase your milk supply to meet your baby’s demand.
Nurse on Demand
I enjoyed nursing for the most part. I know it isn’t always enjoyable though, especially when you’re an exhausted momma who just wants to sleep. Been there, done that. One of our kiddos had infant colic and it was miserable.
One thing that was soothing, was nursing on demand. Although it was only a short remedy for the incessant crying, it did offer peace on a regular basis.
Nursing on demand is pretty straightforward. All you do is nurse anytime your baby seems hungry.
There are two signs that I think breastfeeding moms should watch for. The first is rooting. If your baby is rooting around, trying to get to your breast, chances are, they’re hungry.
The other thing to watch for is clinched fists. Clinched fists often mean a baby is hungry, whereas relaxed hands often mean that a baby is satisfied.
Fennel Essential Oil
One other thing that I found worked really well for me was Fennel essential oil. I would take my Young Living fennel essential oils, and mix it with grapeseed oil. I put the mixture into a glass rollerball and would roll that around my lower chest and breasts after each pumping session while I was at work.
If I needed it at home while I was with my baby, I would make sure to wipe off with a washcloth before feeding the baby. I NEVER put it anywhere close to the nipple area where the baby could ingest it.
If you aren’t familiar with essential oils, I HIGHLY encourage you to do your own research and make sure you’re comfortable using them and that you have some working knowledge of essential oils and how to use them. Another important part of using essential oils is checking the purity and only buying from a reputable company. I did my own personal research and I felt comfortable with Young Living.
A Fed Baby is ALWAYS Best!
Finding the right solution to your decrease in breast milk supply is the ultimate goal. A few of these may not work for you, but keep trying things. Hopefully, one of these solutions for how to increase your breast milk supply will do the trick.
As much as I always encourage women who want to breastfeed, I will always say that a fed baby is best. Don’t want too long until speaking with your baby’s pediatrician. You always want to make sure your baby is getting the proper nutrition and is being fed enough.
Best of luck momma!
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