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One problem that all breastfeeding moms experience at one time or another is not producing enough milk.
Breastfeeding is meant to be a natural process that our bodies automatically do, right? Wrong! The reality of breastfeeding is far from the dreams we have when we are pregnant.
We expect motherhood from coming naturally, but the only thing that comes naturally about motherhood is guilt!
Why is Milk Supply So Important?
A lot of new mother end up quitting breastfeeding. Their reasons for quitting vary, but I’ve heard from so many friends that they quit because they just couldn’t keep their hungry baby satisfied.
When your milk supply dwindles it can be very frustrating. You are left with a baby who is hungry and fussing. New moms are normally feeling tired and overwhelmed, so it’s an easy decision to make to switch to formula.
But just 1 or 2 days effort could change everything! By concentrating for a couple of days on increasing your supply, you can save yourself a lot of extra work in the future. While formula feeding is very convenient, it is a lot of extra work – trust me, I’ve done both.
(Note: I have nothing against formula feeding babies, my first was formula fed and he is just as healthy and smart as my other 2.)
Maybe your baby is a little older and you pump so you can store the milk for baby to have while your at work, away on a trip or, goodness… taking a night off to enjoy yourself! Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to increase your supply so you can store more milk for when you are away from your little one.
Whatever the reason for needing to increase your milk supply the stress of the situation only makes matters worse!
Here’s a quick guide on how to increase your milk supply fast! Using these tips I doubled my milk supply in just 1 or 2 days. The relief of finally being about to make enough milk to keep my baby happy was immense!
How to Increase Your Milk Supply
Here are the basics that we will cover:
- Drink more water
- Nursing Matters
- Teas & Drinks
- Eat Right
Drink More Water
This sounds pretty obvious but it’s often the first thing we forget about as busy moms.
Water is so important in milk production. Without enough water your body just can’t make milk, simple as that! Breast milk is 88% water… that has to come from somewhere!
If you’re not drinking enough extra water, then your body will take it from other places. This will make you dehydrated and that can have a big effect on your energy levels and overall health. Remember a healthy mommy is a good mommy!
The recommended amount of water to drink for a nursing mother is between 1/2 and 1oz of water per pound of body weight.
So if you weight 145 lbs, then you need to drink between 72oz and 145oz a day – that’s between 9 and 18 glasses of water a day!
The easiest way I found to get enough water was to carry around a water bottle with me where ever I went. In fact, it became such a habit, that even 7 years later, I still always have my water bottle with me!
I love the GO Bottles. They keep water cold all day and come in so many different sizes and colors! They say they keep ice cold for 24 hours… I’ve never had a drink last that long, but I can believe it! Another plus is that they are stainless steel so I don’t have to worry about BPA plastics getting into my milk supply.
I just ordered a new one, my old one was still going strong (after 3 years!), but I wanted a new color! These things really do last forever! Better for me, better for the environment…. win, win!
Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. Our bodies are smart… the more the demand for milk, the more it produces. The less demand, the less it produces…. in theory!
One of the hardest things to get used to when first starting breastfeeding is getting the right “latch”. If baby isn’t latched on properly, then they won’t be getting enough milk, they will be hungry and your supply will decrease. Not good for anyone!
This is a great video that shows how baby should be latching on.
Tips that I wish I had known with my first baby:
- Baby’s chin should be on the breast and the nose clear of the breast
- Wait until baby has their mouth very wide open
- And the most important of all (to avoid sore nipples)… flip the bottom lip! Make sure baby’s bottom lip is flipped outwards, not folded into their mouth. If it’s folded in, then gently pull their chin down with your finger and flip the bottom lip out!
Drain the Breast
You need to make sure that each breast is fully drained at each feeding.
I would feed my baby on one side until I was sure that all the milk was gone (or pretty much all gone) before switching to the other breast.
Sometimes my baby would be full before finishing the second breast – no problem, just make sure that you start on that breast next time you feed. If you always start with the same breast then you will end up having one rock-star milk producing breast and one that doesn’t produce much at all!
Another way to make sure that the breast is fully drained is to use breast compressions while feeding.
With this technique you are literally squeezing your breast to push the milk out to the baby. This is great for sleepy babies who might not be sucking as hard.
Learning this technique made a huge difference to me when I was breastfeeding. It meant my babies got more milk, my milk supply increased and everyone was happier!
Here’s a great video that explains it in more detail.
For more advice and techniques to help you be more successful at breastfeeding I STRONGLY recommend you check out Dr Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding. This book literally changed my relationship with breastfeeding. When I was on the verge of giving up, this book completely saved the day!
Teas & Drinks
Water isn’t the only fluid that can help your milk supply. There are plenty of teas and other drinks that can help too.
Milk Supply Tea
I love herbal teas, so it was easy for me to switch one or two cups a day to Mothers Milk Tea. This organic tea has a really nice favor (I added lemon to mine), kind of like black licorice. Some of my friends would add honey to theirs to sweeten it.
There’s a few different brands of milk supply herbal teas. I recommend Traditional Medicine’s Mothers Milk Tea because it’s organic, affordable and easy to get (although I bought mine in bulk from Amazon to make it even cheaper!).
It uses oats, flax seed and peanut butter which are all awesome foods to help boost your milk supply. She recommend adding Brewer’s Yeast to the smoothie too, which is a superhero when it comes to increasing your milk supply.
Yes, you read that right! Certain types of beer can help increase your milk supply!
This was actually the first thing I tried when my milk supply was low. My mother is very old fashioned and has an old solution to pretty much any problem! Using beer to increase milk supply has been been around for hundred of years!
Of course, you have to be sensible and not consume too much. I would have one beer straight after nursing, so I knew I had 3-4 hours before I would be nursing again.
You want to look for beers that are made with oatmeal. Stouts are the normal type of beer that contain oatmeal.
You can also try ginger beers (my favorite!) as ginger also helps increase your milk supply. Crabbie’s Ginger Beer was always my favorite!
I also found that having one beer would help me relax a little more, and that is also a great way to increase your milk supply!
After nine months of eating carefully when you are pregnant, you need to continue it while you are breastfeeding too.
A health, balanced diet with lots of fruits and veggies will, of course, help your body be healthier and stronger and therefore product more milk. But there are certain foods that give your boobs an extra kick!
Here’s some of the top milk supply boosting foods:
- Sweet Potato
My all time favorite way to increase my milk supply was baking lactation cookies! Not only are they good for your milk supply, they are also a healthy cookie for the other members of your family!
Another great way to increase your milk supply is to pump in between feedings. Or you might be exclusively pumping because you are away from your baby for periods of time.
Using the Right Pump
Either way a good electric pump will make all the difference. There are many different types of breast pump for all situations and all budgets.
However, key features you want to look for are:
- Single or double (one breast or 2 breasts at the same time)
- Manual or electric
- Adjustable suction
- Ease of cleaning
I love the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump. It’s not cheap, but this is a great item to put on your baby registry and encourage friends and family to club together to buy for you.
Already have a baby? Why not ask for it for Christmas? It could be your baby’s Christmas present from a group of family members – much more useful that more onies that they will grow out of in 2 months!
If you want to give your milk supply a real kick start, then add one “Power Pumping” session per day for 3 to 4 days!
Power pumping is time consuming but it will really help increase your milk supply.
- Pump for 20 minutes and ensure both sides are completely drained
- Rest for 10 minutes and drink some water or herbal tea!
- Pump for 10 minutes, even if you feel like you aren’t producing any more milk
- Rest for another 10 minutes and drink more water!
- Pump again for 10 minutes, you might not produce any milk but you are stimulating milk production
This is a simple technique, but it will have a massive effect on your milk supply in a very short period of time.
There are many, many supplements available to help increase your milk supply. There are tablets, powders and drops.
Exactly what you take will depend on you and your budget. Generally you want to look for supplements containing Fenugeek, Blessed Thistle and Goat’s Rue. These are both herbs that have amazing milk boosting properties.
Pretty much the best milk supply booster supplement you can buy is Birth Song Botanitcal’s Let There Be Milk. This stuff is beyond awesome! You just put a few drops in your favorite drink a few times a day.
Unfortunately it is often out of stock and hard to get hold of. If you see it available on Amazon I recommend buying it straight away! Don’t hesitant!!!!
Another very similar product is Motherlove’s More Milk drops. It has similar ingreidents to Let There Be Milk and comes in a larger bottle. It’s also normally in stock on Amazon!
Another awesome supplement is just Fenugreek capsules. I like the capsules because you can open them up and add the powder to drinks or food (like the lactation cookies above). Nature’s Way do very affordable Fenugeek capsules that you can buy from Amazon.
Sleep & Rest
The last thing you can do to help increase your milk supply is to make sure you get enough rest.
Sleep is very important to keep your body healthy. I know that getting enough sleep is nearly impossible with a new baby, but you can make sure you take time throughout the day to rest.
If baby is sleeping, then make sure you take a nap too. The dishes and laundry can wait! It is vitally important that you rest as much as possible when trying to increase your milk supply.
You also want to reduce stress as much as possible. If you are tense and stressed when you sit down to feed you baby, then you just aren’t going to produce as much milk.
Make sure you are somewhere calm and quiet (or as quiet as possible) and take your time. If you feel rushed you are less likely to take the time needed to fully feed your baby and therefore your milk supply will suffer.
Breastfeeding is tough. No matter where you are on your breastfeeding journey, you are doing amazing! All mothers are rock stars for everything we put our bodies through on a daily basis.
And remember to look after yourself as well.