Information on Increasing your milk supply

There are two important parts to having an abundance of milk:

  • Frequent and effective sucking by your baby;

  • Frequent emptying of the breast until it's soft.

Breast milk is made by supply and demand. The more your baby suckles at the breast, the more milk you'll make. Be patient! It takes your body a couple of days to increase production. Possible reasons for low milk production:

  • A sleepy baby who doesn't suck much at the breast;
  • A baby that receives supplemental formula which causes him to sleep more and feel fuller, thus, eating less frequently at the breast;
  • Unrelieved engorgement: the pressure exerted during engorgement can decrease milk production;
  • A sick mother or baby;
  • Sore nipples can lead to less nursing to avoid pain.
  • Stress, fatigue, dieting or returning back to work;
  • Growth spurts of your baby at about 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 4 to 6 months causing a temporary imbalance in supply and demand.
  • Taking birth control medications;
  • Baby sleeping long stretches (through the night).

Recommendations:

  • Nurse more frequently and longer at each feeding. Arouse a sleepy baby and empty both breasts at a feeding or switch back and forth during the feeding. Nurse 8-10 times in 24 hours (MINIMUM).
  • Get more rest! Sleep when your baby sleeps. Delegate responsibilities. Limit visitors. Fatigue is a major factor in decreased milk production.
  • Drink to quench your thirst.
  • Avoid cigarettes; nicotine inhibits let down and is associated with poor milk supply.
  • Delay taking the birth control pill or 'mini-pill'; use another form of birth control while nursing.
  • Avoid dieting. Mother Nature has prepared you during your pregnancy with extra fat stores that will be utilized during lactation. Body fat decreases during lactation and a well-fed lactating mother is more likely to produce a healthy infant. In general, you'll need an extra 500 calories a day for milk production (compared to 200-300 extra calories a day during pregnancy).
  • Avoid using a pacifier for a few days. When your baby needs to suck, even just to soothe himself, put him to your breast.
  • Avoid supplementing with formula, or at least gradually reduce the amount of formula your baby receives. If he is hungry sooner, breastfeed again.
  • Arouse your baby for night feedings.
  • Using an electric auto-cycling breast pump, pump for 10 minutes after your baby has finished nursing. Even if there is no milk coming out, keep pumping for the full time. This tells your body to increase production. The more frequently you do this (i.e. after every feed vs. once a day), the sooner you will see results.
  • There are traditional herbal remedies to increase milk production. As with most herbal therapies, there is not scientific research on their use. They seem to work extremely well for some moms, not at all for others. These include: Milkmaker cookies, fenugreek in tea, tablet, tincture or glycerite form, More Milk (blessed thistle), More Milk Plus, Goat's Rue and More Milk Two. (Tinctures and glycerites are herbs preserved in a liquid form, said to maintain potency better than dried herbs.)

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