Tips For Increasing Your Breast Milk Supply

If you're planning to breastfeed your baby, you have a steep learning curve ahead of you. Some new moms become frustrated with breastfeeding because they cannot get their milk supply up, which eventually means switching to formula to meet the nutritional needs of the baby. While occasionally low supply cannot be avoided (some moms naturally produce more milk than others), there are some things you can do to help ramp up your supply right from the start.

1. Nurse as frequently as possible during the first few days of life.

You won't produce much milk at first, just small amounts of colostrum will come during the hours after birth. Because you're not producing much, your baby may act hungry all the time and seek to nurse frequently. This may seem wearing, especially because it might seem like you're not producing very much, but let your baby nurse as often and as frequently as you can stand (your nipples can get sore). The frequent feeding will help your milk to "come in" more quickly and will help you to produce more. Breast milk works on supply and demand-- if your baby demands more, usually the body will make more. 

Try to avoid supplementing with formula during those first few days before your milk comes in. The demand at the breast helps to set the tone for your milk supply later. 

2. Use a breast pump to help create more demand.

After your milk comes in, there will be enough for baby, but sometimes there will be more than enough. This oversupply is normal, but it won't last long. Be sure to keep your body producing milk by pumping each breast empty after your baby is done feeding. This will help your body to know to produce more milk. Store the extra milk in the freezer to use later when you need to leave your infant with a babysitter or when you need to return to work. 

3. Stay hydrated.

You might notice that you are constantly thirsty after you give birth. Your body needs more liquid to maintain a steady supply of milk. If you neglect to drink enough water, your supply will go down. You might even notice that on days you drink less, your breasts are less full than on days when you drink more. Your appetite will be ramped up as well, and eating milk-boosting foods can help, but water is also essential. 

If you try to boost your supply and still struggle to make enough milk, be sure to contact a lactation consultant and consult with your doctor about supplementing or lip/tongue tie revision.