As a Certified Lactation Counselor and Registered Dietitian, I often receive questions about how to increase milk supply. Typically the questions go something like this:
Which Mother’s milk tea should I drink to increase milk supply?
Have you heard about XYZ supplement that is going to increase milk supply?
Do you have a recipe for lactation cookies?
What foods should I eat to boost my increase milk supply?
My clients and friends are usually surprised when I tell them to forget about it. Forget about trying to find the perfect lactation cookie recipe, lactation tea, or milk-boosting foods. There is not nearly enough evidence to support these as methods to increase milk supply.
You guys know me by now. I keep things simple and make recommendations based off evidence.
Because of that, when it comes to increasing your milk supply, I always recommend going back to the number one, evidence-based, simple rule:
Supply and Demand.
To understand how to increase milk supply, you need to understand milk production. The most (oversimplified) explanation is this: when breastfeeding, the more often your breast is emptied of milk, the faster your body will produce more milk. So, the more that you breastfeed or remove milk by hand expression or pumping, the more often your body will get the signal to make more milk. Again – this is a totally oversimplified explanation. If you want to learn more about the stages of lactogenesis and details of milk production, check out this post on Milk Production on KellyMom.
Ways to Stimulate Milk Production and Increase Milk Supply:
- Exclusively breastfeed your baby on demand, as often as possible. Your body will respond best to baby at the breast instead of a pump. Whenever your baby is giving hunger cues or looking for comfort, breastfeed. Some moms like to try a “nursing vacation” for a couple days. Take a weekend and set yourself up somewhere comfy in your home with you and baby and just focus on resting, relaxing, enjoying your baby, and nursing as often as possible!
- Let baby empty both breasts at each feeding.
- Collect milk on one side by pumping one breast while baby is feeding off the other.
- Hand express prior to pumping
- If separated from baby, pump when baby would normally be feeding. For example, if you have a full-term baby that is in the NICU, pump to mimic the needs of that baby (10 or more times in 24 hours).
- Try pumping after infant is done feeding at breast.
- “Power pumping”: Pump for 5 minutes, pause, pump for 5 minutes, pause, pump for 5 minutes.
There’s a lot of ways you can put supply and demand into practice. The most important thing to remember if you want to increase milk supply is to breastfeed more often!
If you have specific questions and want to book a 30 minute virtual lactation consult, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s hang out!