Breastfeeding comes with a lot of challenges, not the least of which is figuring out how to increase your milk supply quickly if you have signs of a a low milk supply. Thankfully, there are some simple ways to increase your milk supply which we will talk about in a minute!
Do you have true signs of a low milk supply?
But first: are you sure that you actually have a low milk supply? Many women often think that they aren’t producing enough milk because the baby cries a lot and wants to nurse all the time. But this kind of behavior is VERY normal for babies. It’s important not to get discouraged from breastfeeding just because of how much or little milk you think your baby is getting. It’s okay if she wants to nurse for 30 minutes every hour. It doesn’t mean you aren’t producing enough for her. Chances are that you’re doing just fine.
But sometimes things can happen that make your supply dip. Maybe the baby isn’t latching on well or you aren’t hydrated well enough. Here are some signs to watch out for that indicate that you really are having trouble producing enough milk:
Sign of a low supply #1: Your baby isn’t having enough wet diapers
An easy way to tell if your baby isn’t getting enough breastmilk is to keep track of how many wet diapers they have every day. In the first few days she might only have a couple of wet diapers, but once she’s about a week old, you should see at least 6 wet diapers a day. If you change that many, that’s a good sign that she is getting plenty to drink and there’s no need to worry!
Sign of a low supply #2: Baby isn’t gaining weight
Ultimately, you can count on your pediatrician to let you know if your baby isn’t getting enough milk. If they aren’t getting what they need, they won’t gain weight properly. The doctor can easily tell if they are on track with their weight gain. If they’re gaining weight at a good rate, you can rest assured that you don’t need to worry about your milk supply being low.
I would encourage you to make sure that the pediatrician you choose is very pro-breastfeeding. There are pediatricians out there who are a bit too quick to recommend switching to formula, which is not what you want if your goal is to breastfeed for any length of time.
If those two things are going well for your baby, you don’t even need to read the rest of this post because your milk supply is already a-okay. But if you’re still concerned, read on! Whether you have a truly low milk supply or not, these tips to increase your milk supply are still good for you and for the baby. If you wind up making too much milk from these tips, you can always donate it!
How long does it take to increase milk supply?
If you have a low milk supply, you’re probably eager to see results as quickly as possible. You want your baby to get more of your milk! But when I say these tips will increase your supply quickly, I don’t mean that you’ll be pumping more milk 20 minutes from now. It can take a few days for your body to respond to any changes that you make. Don’t try these tips and then be disappointed when you still don’t pump very much the next time you try.
Just keep trying and continue practicing good breastfeeding habits and you will start to notice yourself producing more milk within a relatively short period of time.
There’s a reason they give you those gigantic water bottles with a straw in the hospital! Staying hydrated is the number one thing you should be doing to keep your milk supply up. It’s pretty logical, right? Your body can’t produce fluid for your baby if you aren’t taking in the right amount of fluid.
Plus, drinking water has so many benefits for you as well! You’ll feel more awake and alert, and less prone to mindless snacking.
You should drink at LEAST half your body weight in ounces every day to ensure that you have enough fluid in your system to make enough milk.
That means that if you weigh 200 pounds, you should aim to drink 100 ounces of water in a day. That’s about four of the 28 oz water bottles that they give you in the hospital. It’s a lot, but definitely doable.
I find that it’s easiest to chug my water a few times a day rather than sipping all day long.
Keep your milk supply up with good nutrition
Postpartum and breastfeeding nutrition is hard because most of us want to lose all of that baby weight, but we still need to be taking in enough calories to be able to produce milk for the baby.
If you want to keep your milk supply up, this is definitely not the right time to go on a strict diet. You don’t want to be cutting calories or giving up entire food groups in order to lose weight. That will definitely make your milk supply suffer.
But just because you aren’t dieting doesn’t mean that you should eat whatever you want. French fries and fried chicken are not the ideal diet for a breastfeeding mother either. Eating nutritious food is a good idea even if you aren’t trying to lose weight.
Eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Try to get enough protein. Think chicken, eggs and fish, not hot dogs or salami.
There are certain foods that are considered galactagogues, which means they are great foods that help your milk supply increase. I did a lot of research about galactagogues, and just about every source I looked at had different foods listed.
But there were two that came up over and over again: oatmeal and fennel seed.
Oats have tons of vitamins and nutrients that are great for your milk supply.
Fennel has tons of benefits, and you can use it in a number of different ways to increase your milk supply. You can eat the fennel seed raw, add it to recipes, drink it as a tea, or use the essential oils on your breast to increase milk supply.
Do your own research and find snacks, recipes and herbs that work for you. You’ll probably find that there isn’t any one galactagogue that is the magic key to more breast milk production.
All the fennel essential oil in the world won’t help you if you live on pop tarts and diet soda.
Focus mainly on eating healthy food: lean meat, whole grains, beans, spinach, broccoli. Eat food that fuels your body to make milk, and you’ll see your milk supply go up!
Pumping might increase your milk supply fast
You should never judge your milk supply by how much milk you’re able to pump. You may not be able to pump more than an ounce, but that doesn’t mean that that’s all that your baby is getting.
Babies are way more efficient at removing milk from the breast than a pump. Chances are that your baby is getting plenty of milk regardless of how much you pump.
Having said that, pumping can be a great way to boost your milk supply quickly. You might try pumping for 10 or 15 minutes after the baby is done nursing to encourage your body to keep producing more milk.
You might also try something called power pumping. This is where you pump intermittently for a period of time. You might pump for 10 minutes then rest for 10 minutes then pump for 10 more minutes and keep going for an hour. It’s intense, but many women say that it works. You can look up varying power pumping schedules and figure out what works for you. (Source)
Breastfeed more often to increase your milk supply
Milk production is a supply and demand type of situation. The more often you nurse your baby the more milk your body will produce.
You might be inclined to try to get your baby on a schedule and not feed them more than once every few hours. You might get more sleep if you do this, but it can also cause your supply to go down. Newborns really like to nurse constantly. That’s okay.
For the first few weeks after my oldest was born, we were doing well to make it an hour without nursing. Constant nursing is normal and doesn’t mean that your supply is low.
In fact, it’s really important to nurse your baby on demand, especially during those first few weeks of life. That’s the time where your supply is getting established and your body is figuring out exactly how much milk to make. If you limit feedings, then your body will think it doesn’t need to produce as much milk as your baby actually needs.
So don’t hesitate to breastfeed your baby and often as they want to!
Skin to skin is great for your milk supply
Spending time skin to skin with your baby is magic for your supply. Did you know that if mother and baby are allowed to be skin to skin immediately after birth the baby can crawl up to her mother’s breast and latch on all by herself?
Being skin-to-skin helps your baby to feel more safe and secure. She feels more relaxed and is able to focus on figuring out how to breastfeed rather than cry for attention. Feeling your warmth and your breasts encourages the baby to latch on more easily. It also makes you more attentive to when the baby is getting hungry and you’ll nurse her much more often.
All of those things will help to increase your milk supply quickly!
Seek professional help to increase your milk supply
When all else fails and you don’t know what else to do, it’s important to meet with a lactation consultant who can help you with your specific situation.
A lactation consultant will know far more than I do. She can also observe your baby breastfeeding and give you one on one help to figure what the problem might be.
Even if you’re doing everything right, visiting a lactation consultant might just be the confidence boost you need to be able to trust your body and continue your breastfeeding journey with your baby.
And remember, one visit with a lactation consultant is far cheaper than buying formula for a year!
I hope you find some of these tips helpful for increasing your supply!As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Melinda worked with children for years in a professional setting before becoming a full-time stay at home mom. She currently has three young children, and enjoys sharing tips and ideas about parenting and how to manage a home with excellence. She’s been featured on Heathline and Her View From Home.