In search of how to produce more breast milk?
When you're underproducing, or even just feel like it, it's easy to get discouraged. Especially when your mom friends look like this:
It's important to note that some moms think they're underproducing, when they're really not. Your body should make what your baby needs - just because you don't have a "freezer stash" doesn't mean you're not making enough milk.
There's no guarantees, and sometimes you don't have a choice but to quit breastfeeding for various reasons. There's nothing wrong with that, fed really IS best.
But, if you're not ready to throw the towel in, there's a few things you can try. Consulting with your LC for a one-on-one is always a good idea too!
1. Nurse like a mother (see what I did there?) or Power Pump.
Your milk is supply and demand - if there's a big demand it can stimulate your supply to respond. Let baby nurse as much as possible - they are the most efficient milk collection machines there are!
When pumping, make sure you're pumping no less than 15 minutes each session. If you're in the middle of a let down when time's up let yourself finish before stopping your pump sesh.
If nursing isn't an option, you can give Power Pumping a try. Power Pumping is when you pump on and off for a dedicated period of time. Even if milk stops coming out, the idea is that the suction can signal a "demand" for milk to further future production.
Bonus points if you can rent a hospital grade pump like the Medela Symphony - try your local medical supply store. Some will offer monthly rentals.
2. Hand Express After Nursing or Pumping
When you're done feeding, try hand expressing each breast. This can help completely empty you, again to signal the demand for your body to create more. If you're getting a lot, it may also let you know your pump isn't emptying you efficiently... you can subsequently have it tested by a LC (to make sure the motor is running at 100%), check your flange size, and change your membranes and valves.
3. Pump Opposite Side When Feeding
A hands-free pump bra makes pumping so much easier, and makes pumping on one side while baby nurses on the other possible. Or, try a Hukka which suctions to a breast and uses that suction to extract milk.
4. Middle of the Night (MOTN) Pumps
If you've been blessed with a good sleeper, waking up for a Middle of the Night Pump session may be what you need. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, "More prolactin is produced at night, so breastfeeding at night is especially helpful for keeping up the milk supply." Try somewhere between 2am and 6am.
5. Water, Water, Water, Water
Half your body weight in ounces. Drink that much every day.
6. Malt Ovaltine & Other Galactagogues
A galactagogue is a substance that increases milk supply. Malt Ovaltine was my personal favorite, because it tasted like chocolate milk and I was happy to have a glass every day.
A few other galactagogues:
- Coconut Water
- Dark Beer (Guiness lovers rejoice!)
- Rolled & SteelCut Oats
7. Eat, Mama
Your body requires more calories to make milk than it did while you were pregnant. If you're stressing about your weight or attempting to diet, you could be hurting your own supply. Try not worrying about your weight for now and eating what you want. There will be plenty of time once you've weaned to lose the weight.
8. Check Your Flange Size, Move 'em Around
The wrong flange size can sabotage your journey. Make sure you're using the right flange size, and if you're not sure set an appointment with a LC.
Also, during pumping, if milk has stopped flowing try readjusting the placement of your flange. You may be able to hit a duct at a different angle and produce a new stream. You may do this multiple times during a pump session.
9. Change Membranes and Valves
Especially if you're exclusively pumping, you need to change the membranes and valves on your flange to ensure maximum suction. They wear over time, make sure you're swapping them out every few months.
Use heat! Warming dilates the milk ducts allowing for quicker and more efficient removal of milk. These Lansinoh Therapearl pads can be heated up and placed around your breasts while pumping, helping get the milk out faster and more efficiently.
May the milk Gods smile down upon you.
What did you find increased your supply?
Tell us in the comments!