Have you noticed that your milk supply is decreasing? Are you wanting to start producing more breast milk to build up a freezer stash? Your milk supply can fluctuate for a variety of reasons and if you aren’t producing enough breast milk your baby could be still be baby hungry after a feeding. There are ways that you can naturally increase your breast milk supply. There are even some supplements that are safe for breastfeeding mothers that can help mother’s with low breast milk production or supply issues. Stressing over low milk supply can cause your supply to dip even further.
Disclosure: This post is for informational purposes only. I am not a lactation consultant or a doctor.
Stressed Baby = Stressed Out Mom
What Are Some Factors That Can Cause Your Milk Supply to Decrease?
There are several things that can indirectly cause your milk supply to decrease. Some of these things are controllable and some things are uncontrollable.
- Ensure That You Are Eating a Well-Balanced Diet - Producing milk so that you can breastfeed your baby burns roughly 500 calories a day, so it is important to ensure that you are eating enough calories every day so that your body can produce an adequate milk supply. If you are trying to lose weight while breastfeeding, it is important that you eat enough calories so that it doesn’t affect your breast milk supply.
- Sleep – It is important to make sure that you are getting enough sleep each night. Your body requires sleep in order for body to have enough energy to produce milk. Nurses in the hospital will often tell you to sleep when your baby sleeps, especially during those first few weeks when a newborn wakes up several times during the middle of the night. As your baby begins to sleep in longer stretches especially at night, make sure that you take advantage of this and go to bed instead of worrying about other things such as cleaning the house, ect. It is common for some breast fed babies to wake up during the middle of the night to eat, just remember this stage doesn’t last forever.
- Period – When mother nature comes back with a vengeance you might notice that your milk supply takes a dip right before you start your period. Your milk supply will pick back up once you start your period.
- Illness – Breast feeding doesn’t make you immune to getting sick; however, it does limit the types of medications that you can safely take. Please consult your doctor or health care provider before taking any over the counter medications. Also, if you see a doctor make sure that you tell him or her that your breastfeeding so that they can give you medicine that is deemed safe for breastfeeding mothers to take.
- Taking Medications – Taking certain medications such as decongestants can cause your milk supply to drop. Check with a doctor or pharmacist before taking any over the counter medicines.
Symptoms Of Decreased Milk Production
- Baby fussing at the breast and pulling away
- Baby seems unsatisfied
- Baby isn’t producing enough wet diapers (generally 6-8) a day
- Baby stops eating due to illness
- Milk produced during a pumping session suddenly decreases
How Can I Increase My Milk Supply?
Use these tips and tricks to help increase your milk supply. You can use one or a combination of these tips.
- Feed Your Baby – Your baby is very efficient at getting milk out of your breasts. If you suspect low milk production, start feeding your baby more often. Limit time between feeding. The baby will trigger your body to produce more milk to keep up with the new milk demands.
- Mother’s Milk Tea – Drinking several glasses of Mother’s Milk Tea a day can help some mother’s increase their milk supply. This product contains a natural substance that is supposed to promote healthy lactation or milk supply. This product hasn’t been evaluated by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration). Consult your doctor or health care provider before drinking this product. I have heard that it tastes similar to Licorice.
- Oatmeal – Eating a bowl of oatmeal as soon as you notice a decrease in milk production can help increase your breast milk supply. Not only is this a quick and easy meal but it is supposed to help boast your milk production.
- Fenugreek – Taking this product is supposed to help boast your milk supply in as little as 24 to 48 hours after taking the pills. It contains an herb that contains a hormone precursor that supposedly helps increase milk supply. Once your milk supply has increased, you can discontinue taking this supplement and maintain your currently supply. One side effect of taking Fenugreek is that your body excretes it through the skin, often leaving you with a “maple syrup” body odor smell.
- Lactation Cookies – What? There are cookies that can help increase my milk supply? Yes, there are cookies that you can eat to help increase your breast milk supply. You can make these cookies from scratch or order pre-made lactation cookies.
- Blessed Thistle – Taking Blessed Thistle is known to help mother’s produce more milk. It is considered a diuretic and will increase your breast milk output. Consult your doctor or health care provider before taking this product. Note: if you suffer from seasonal allergies this product might cause an allergic reaction.
- Breast Pump – Some mothers will use their breast pump to help increase their breast milk production. Pumping after feedings or adding an additional pumping session between feedings can help increase your breast milk supply. Pumping will stimulate your body to produce more milk. Also, if you are already using a breast pump on a regular basis, try pumping an additional five minutes after your milk stops flowing. This will send a signal to your brain that the breasts are empty and prompt your brain to increase your breast milk production. This is a safe alternative and doesn’t have any long lasting side effects that pills or herbs might have. If you don’t have a breast pump, check out our comprehensive breast pump reviews to find a breast pump that meets your needs.
Originally written June 9, 2012.
How did you increase your breast milk supply?