Frustrated and need to increase milk supply quickly as a breastfeeding or pumping mom? How many times have you read that breastfeeding is a game of supply and demand? The idea that a woman’s body naturally responds to a baby’s breastfeeding habits and automatically creates enough breast milk is technically correct.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t help if you feel that your baby isn’t getting enough milk or going through a growth spurt where you are struggling to catch up to his needs. Whether you’re concerned about the number of wet diapers that your baby is producing, trying to survive a growth spurt or it’s just a worry that keeps you up at night, there are some things that you can do to increase your milk supply quickly.
Many moms see a difference in less than a day, but others may take a few days. So you may need to be a little patient…be these DO tend to work well and quickly!
Top 10 Ways to Increase Milk Supply Quickly
1. Give your baby unlimited access to your breasts.
Have you been trying to stick to a breastfeeding schedule? Are there times when you try not to breastfeed? Try dropping the schedule, eliminating all rules, and simply giving your baby the freedom to breastfeed as often and long as he or she desires. The more they breastfeed, the more milk your body should produce over time.
There is one reason that many new mothers don’t take this unlimited approach right from the beginning: convenience. It’s a dilemma between getting your baby accustomed to a schedule and sleeping through the night versus ensuring that your milk supply is adequately boosted. When you’re just starting to breastfeed, it does help to give your body as many “make more milk” cues as possible. If you’re struggling to produce a healthy milk supply, then those cues are essential. You may just need to set convenience aside while allowing your baby to do his or her job stimulating the milk flow that you need.
2. Try power pumping.
This is a strategy that many women swear by, so it’s worth giving it a try if you need to quickly pump up your supply. The idea is to increase the demand for milk by pumping in addition to your normal breastfeeding routine. Babies naturally go through growth spurts where they demand more milk, and you can use your pump to trick your body into thinking that is happening right now.
Some women simplify the power pumping process by pumping an extra five or 10 minutes after their baby breastfeeds. There is also a more structured approach that requires you to spend one extra hour pumping each day. During that hour, you follow the pattern and method described on our Power Pumping page. (Click here to learn how it works.)
You should follow this routine for one hour of pumping, and it works best if you do it at the same time each day. Most women notice an increase in their milk supply within two days of power pumping while others may take up to a week to see the results. This isn’t something that you should do as part of your permanent routine, so think of it as a strategy that you come back to as needed.
3. Manipulate your breasts for maximum expression at each feeding or pumping.
This helps by maximizing the amount of milk that you release each time you pump or breastfeed, which tells your body that more milk is needed while ensuring that your little one receives every drop of milk that you produce. The simplest approach is to gently massage your breasts while your baby breastfeeds or while you pump. Use a circular motion similar to how you might check for breast lumps during a routine exam. This should stimulate your breasts to release more milk if it is available.
The slightly more involved version of breast manipulation is referred to as MSS or Massage, Stroke, Shake. Pump or feed for about five minutes, and then stop pupping to massage your breasts. Use circular strokes, starting at the breast wall or chest and working your way down to the nipple on both breasts. Cup your breasts in your hands, lean forward, and give them a gentle shake before nursing for another five minutes and repeating the process.
The MSS method doesn’t produce more milk immediately, but many women find that it does improve the milk supply when performed consistently. You can always massage while you breastfeed for more immediate results.
4. Sip on Mother’s Milk Tea.
This is a tea designed just for nursing mothers that includes natural herbs believed to improve milk supply. There is no scientific evidence that you can sip your way to a more robust supply of breast milk, but many mothers around the world have shared stories of amazing success with this tea. You can buy this at some grocery stores in your local area, or you can order it online. There are many different varieties from different brands, so you may want to try a couple until you find a flavor that you enjoy.
One of the most popular options is the Nursing Mom’s Tea Kit. It contains Mother’s Milk Tea plus a fenugreek supplement. We’ll talk about the benefit of supplementing with fenugreek later on this list.
5. Focus your diet on foods believed to boost milk supply naturally.
Can you really eat your way to a more voluminous milk supply? It seems unlikely, but there is actually a lot of power in food. (Click here to read more about Breastfeeding Nutrition…)
Many people are now using nutrition as a treatment option for serious medical conditions, and there are some foods that can help your body make healthy breast milk in larger quantities. Let’s take a look at some of those foods so that you can start adding them into your weekly menu:
- Barley – The magic in this food is beta-glucan. This is a substance believed to stimulate the release of prolactin, which is the hormone known to trigger the production of breast milk. This substance can also boost your immune system and is now used to treat and prevent a variety of medical conditions, including heart disease and cancer. Your body cannot make beta-glucan, so fill up on barley.
- Oats – Again, the magic is in the beta-glucan. You probably already have this ingredient in the kitchen, and there are endless ways to add it into your diet. You may simply start enjoying oatmeal for breakfast, but try adding it into other dishes like muffins, cookies, and meatloaf.
- Fennel – This is the whole food version of the herb fenugreek, which is commonly used in tea form to boost breast milk production. Fennel contains phytoestrogens, which have long been associated with stimulating the production of breast milk. You can eat it raw or mix it with citrus fruits to create a refreshing salad. Try adding a touch of mint.
- Papaya – This is one of those foods believed to benefit breastfeeding women but not due to scientific research. It is used in some Asian cultures to boost milk supply, but we simply have no proof that it actually makes a difference. Since it’s delicious and you can eat it without cooking, it is something that you may keep on hand for snacks just in case.
Following a well-balanced diet that is rich in whole grains, green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit, and lean protein is the most natural strategy to boosting milk supply. It’s also essential to staying healthy so that you’re able to breastfeed and care for your baby in the long term. Also, keep in mind that the nutrients you consume also nourish your little one by boosting the quality of your breast milk. (Click here for a list of 30 foods that increase milk supply…)
6. Indulge with lactation cookies.
If you haven’t heard about lactation cookies, you’re missing out. Even women who aren’t concerned about their milk supply use these cookies as a great reason to indulge in something sweet. You’re dealing with a body that seems completely new while nourishing a baby who may not believe in sleeping through the night; you deserve at least one little indulgence each day.
These cookies are made with foods believed to boost milk supply, including oats, flaxseed, and brewer’s yeast. They also contain sugar and other standard ingredients for cookies. If you don’t like to bake or don’t have time to grocery shop and follow a recipe, you can buy lactation cookie mixes online and have them delivered to your door. (Click here for our favorite options to try!)
Lactation cookies normally contain real foods that are safe for your entire family, including toddlers. If you prefer to prepare your own mix, you can find a variety of recipes online.
7. Try supplementing your diet with herbal galactagogues.
This is a big word that simply refers to any substance believed to naturally boost breast milk supply. Many people add foods with this capability to this group, but the word is typically used in relation to herbal supplements. Some of the supplements that you may try include:
- Blessed Thistle
- Goat’s Rue
Do you want a shortcut to finding these supplements? You can get many of them by drinking Premama lactation supplement drink. While this isn’t guaranteed to boost your milk supply, it is a nutritious option to support your breastfeeding efforts in general. If you prefer drops that you can add to your water, Let There Be Milk drops from Birth Song Botanicals has proven effective for many women.
Keep in mind that herbal supplements are often as powerful as medication and may interact with prescription or over-the-counter medications. You should also stick to recommended dosages because there is a risk of overdose or heightened side effects if you take too much of any herb. In general, you shouldn’t take galactagogues or any other type of supplement or medication if you’re pregnant or if you have other diagnosed medical conditions.
Does it sound like there are a lot of warnings with galactagogues? Most of them are safe for the majority of women, but you do want to check with your doctor or lactation consultant if you have other medical conditions to consider.
8. Increase your water intake.
This may sound too simple to be real, but it is critical to producing milk for your baby. Breast milk is more than 80% water, and your body simply cannot create more milk if you’re too dehydrated to provide that water. Make sure that you’re consuming at least 64 ounces of water daily, which is eight 8-ounce glasses. Keep a water bottle with you during the day, by your bed at night and keep refilling it until you hit your water goal.
Many moms put a glass of ice by the bed (or a Yeti with ice water) to sip on during night-time feedings. This can really make a big difference too!
9. Add some Gatorade to your day.
You’re already drinking more water, so why do you need Gatorade? Many women find that consuming the electrolytes in Gatorade helps improve hydration and may have a positive impact on milk supply. Some women claim that red Gatorade is the most effective, but others have received similar results when drinking other colors.
There is no scientific evidence that this helps, but it doesn’t hurt to use Gatorade as some of your daily water intake. Some lactation consultants also recommend coconut water for the hydrating and immune-boosting benefits.
10. Groom your baby for more aggressive feeding.
Have you ever watched a cat nurse her kittens? Cats naturally groom their kittens through licking. Human parents can benefit from doing the same, except you want to use your hands rather than your mouth. Look down at your baby, caressing his or her head and cheeks while appreciating their beauty. Place your baby directly against your skin while doing this, and Dr. Sears believes that it can stimulate more effective milk ejection. If nothing else, it will result in some excellent bonding time while allowing your baby to fully relax in your arms.
Are you still struggling to improve your milk supply? You may have to give these strategies some time to work or perhaps find the magical combination of strategies for your body. If you’re still concerned that your baby isn’t producing enough wet or dirty diapers, isn’t sleeping well or is otherwise not thriving, discuss the issue with your doctor rule out more serious problems.
Good luck mama!
- 10 Breastfeeding Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Milk Supply
- Going Back to Work after Your Baby is Born? How to Maintain Your Milk Supply
- The Best Breastfeeding Diet Options for Losing Weight without Losing Milk
- Exercise While Breastfeeding Without Losing Your Milk Supply
- Lactation Cookies to Increase Breast Milk Supply
- Power Pumping to Increase Breast Milk Supply FAST!