Among the list of things that mothers tend to worry about after pregnancy, low milk supply, or a sudden drop in milk supply are the main ones. Some mothers really think that milk supply decreasing means that there is a problem with them. On the contrary, you may be alright and not need to do anything to increase milk supply.
My name is Annabel Strickland, and I am passionate about anything that has to do with nutrition and its impact on health. I am currently studying to become a certified nutritionist, and I will be advising women on how to cope with pre and post-pregnancy issues, how to give the child food, and how to stay healthy.
Today, I will be talking about one of the issues that nursing mothers face and different ways to tackle it. This issue relates to methods of increasing milk supply in breastfeeding mothers.
You may be wondering, why is my milk supply decreasing? Well, there are several reasons why your milking supply is running low or dry. Some of them are: allowing your baby to use a pacifier a lot, supplementing breastmilk for baby formula, creating a feeding time table for your baby, and some health challenges as well.
Do you know that babies are supposed to eat 10-12 times in a day? Creating a time table to feed the baby will not do much good for your milk supply. Remember, you should feed your baby as he or she gets hungry.
You may ask, how do I know if my milk supply is low? You can tell it when milk is barely coming out of your nipples even when you press it or when your baby sucks, and what comes out is very little milk.
There are certain things, medications, and foods that increase milk supply in the breasts. Sounds funny but emptying your breasts from milk is one of the ways to boost milk supply fast. As you keep feeding your baby, it keeps increasing in your breasts. Other ways include taking foods or supplements rich in fennel seeds, milk thistle, stinging nettle, brewer’s yeast, etc. In the review below, you will learn about the foods and supplements to increase milk supply.
How to Increase the Breast Milk Supply: Food, Supplements, and Herbs
When is milk supply established? Usually, mothers begin to lactate two to three months before giving birth. After birth, some mothers notice milk supply decreasing at 2 months after pregnancy and immediately start to seek ways to increase milk supply.
Before jumping into that conclusion, you need to see your health provider to ascertain the cause and prescribe the best remedy for your situation. Besides giving the baby breastfeeding formula, other factors that add to drying up milk supply could be menstruation. Some mothers experience low milk supply during period.
Some others experience low milk supply as a result of stress or the intake of hormonal drugs. While some herbal medications may seem safe to you because they are natural, avoid self-medicating, and always seek the opinion of your doctor before you take any herb, supplement, or foods to increase milk supply.
Note that for these supplements or herbs to work, you would need to stimulate yourself by also feeding the baby. Let’s look at the possible causes of low milking supply and the products that can help in boosting milk supply for you.
Why Milk Levels May Be Low
Some mothers become extra worried when they realize that their milking supply is low, but it should not be so. You need to consider if it is a problem or not. If your child is increasing in weight and getting his or her diapers full, then you are good. It the milk supply is low for some reason, what really could be the cause?
• Poor latching
Your baby may not be properly latched to your breasts, and that can limit the milk that flows into his or her mouth. More breast milk is made when the current one is sucked or milked into storage bags. When milk is not being emptied, the mammary gland will secrete less milk, and with time, it keeps lessening until the milk supply stops.
• Poor breastfeeding
Because you work or are too tired, you decide to give your baby formula or to nurse the child only three times a day. By doing so, your milk is not being utilized, and at some point, your milk supply will decrease.
• People’s opinions
When you allow people to decide how, why, and with what you should feed your child, you can create a stressful situation for yourself. For instance, some people may complain that if the baby sucks your breasts too much, it will become saggy. Then, you will decide not to feed your baby. Tomorrow, someone else will advise you on something else. Inconsistency in feeding the baby can lead to low milk production and supply over time.
Helpful Ways on Increasing Milk Supply
Read on to find out ways to manage your breastfeeding and how best to increase your milking supply. Let’s consider the pros and cons of each method so that you could decide on the best way for yourself.
Always Feed the Baby
Besides supplements, Kellymom increasing milk supply method is also useful. The technique is always to feed the baby.
As a nursing mother, you need to empty the milk of your breasts for more milk to flow. The lesser you allow your baby to consume the milk, the lesser milk your glands will secrete.
However, in situations where the baby is sucking the breasts but not the milk, you should perform breast compression. This is done by applying pressure on the breasts to allow more milk to escape into your baby’s mouth.
You should feed your baby often, at least, every two hours. Feed your baby only milk as no water, formula, or solids will work this way – just breast milk. The mother should also eat very well, follow a balanced diet, drink a lot of water, and rest well.
When you are looking for how to increase the breast milk supply, any option seems great. You may feel like breastfeeding your baby constantly. While this has its advantages, it also has its disadvantages. When talking about benefits:
- You don’t have to buy or clean and sterilize baby bottles and nipples.
- You can bond better with your baby.
- Possibility to feed your baby on the go – no breastmilk pumpers, no milk bottle or storage bag, etc.
- Your baby is always fed and happy.
- It prevents engorgement.
But I want to point out the pitfalls you may experience. You would have to feed your baby in public, and when you do that, you run the risk of being shamed by people who frown at public breastfeeding. Ideally, with a pumper, you can put the milk in a feeding bottle, set the baby in a certain position, and run errands. But without it, you would be stuck at feeding the baby first before doing other things.
Kellymom suggested that you can increase milk supply with pump. This method helped me a lot in stimulating my breasts to produce more milk. As you should feed your baby an average of once every two hours, this will help to empty your breasts and create a new flow of milk back into it.
A friend of mine used to hoard her breast milk for her baby due to work eventually started pumping so that there was enough milk for her baby for the whole day. She pumped into a storage bag and refrigerated milk.
You can pump milk with a breast pumper into milk bags for your baby’s later use or just to empty the milk from your breasts to make new ones. This is really effective when you want to increase pumped milk supply. Note that when you consider how to increase milk supply when pumping, you should also think about its pros and cons.
Why milk pumping is great:
- You can allow family members or friends to feed your baby from the preserved bag batch.
- It saves time because your baby will consume food faster, and you can get about with your daily activities.
- Pumping allows the mother or caregiver to know exactly how much milk the baby consumes daily.
But here are some disadvantages to this method:
- Your baby’s milk can easily get contaminated through some unclean parts of the pumping machine, while thawing, etc.
- The pumping machine is massive, and you would need to take it to wherever place you carry your baby to, most times.
- You will continuously need to clean and sterilize baby bottles, feeders, warmers, etc.
How to Increase Breast Milk Supply with Supplements
Mothers who wonder why is my milk supply decreasing usually sought for immediate improvements. Some of these mothers can take herbs individually, not knowing properly how to use them or go for natural supplements to increase milk supply. These supplements are infused with plants like fenugreek, blessed thistle, goat’s rue, alfalfa, anise seeds, nettle leaf, and other natural herbs that have been said to help induce breastmilk flow in the mother’s breasts.
Some of them come in the form of pills, tinctures, drinks, cookies, or tablets. Most of the manufacturers claim that within a few days, your breastmilk will begin to flow. I have an issue with this because some of the supplements can cause stomach issues for the mothers. Going for supplements without consulting your doctor is dangerous. However, mothers say that supplements truly work.
Some supplements or galactagogic as they are called contain the herbs that I will list below and explain each one. If you are thinking of how to increase your milk supply, you can take these herbs and food to help with milk supply.
- Fennel: Although it has no scientific backup, this herb is known to treat a lot of health issues, including increasing milk production in nursing mothers. It is sweet and tastes like licorice.
- Fenugreek for milk supply: When you talk about how to boost milk supply, this product is the most popular milk supply booster used by nursing mothers. It is said to increase milk supply for mothers within 24 to 72 hours. It is usually found in most supplements that help to increase milk supply.
The downside to fenugreek milk supply is that it can make your breast milk, urine, and any liquid that is secreted from your body to smell like maple syrup. Since food increase milk supply breastfeeding, some people add it to their meals to increase the chances of producing more milk.
- Milk thistle: There is a belief that the white veins of the milk thistle plant stand for milk and can, therefore, be used to increase milk supply.
Other herbs that have been claimed to work as a milk supply booster include brewer’s yeast, goat’s rue, ginger, garlic (the smell stays evident in the breast milk), blessed thistle, alfalfa, stinging nettle, etc. Ginger and garlic are the most widespread ingredients that are added in foods to increase milk supply.
When I had issues with producing milk and looked for ways on how to increase milk supply fast, I made use of fenugreek and some supplements that contained natural ingredients. These herbs and foods boost milk supply immensely, and I think about using them at post-pregnancy just because they are healthy.
Here are the good points of turning to these herbs:
- Noticeable signs of increased milk flow within a few days.
- Many mothers say that it works.
- These are all-natural non-GMO herbs.
However, please make sure to check on the cons as well:
- The ingredients on the label and what the tablet actually contains are not always the same. Take only the products approved by your doctor.
- These herbs may react badly with other medications, so always make sure to consult with your doctor first.
Breast Massage for Boosting Milk Supply
When you massage a particular part of your body, it usually increases or improves the blood flow in that region. The same thing applies to breastfeed. When milk is not flowing well, massaging the breasts can help to stimulate the mammary glands and improve the milk supply.
I have tried this method, and even though it actually got more milk flowing, I realized that it was very exhausting. I started feeling pain in my hands and shoulders due to the strain. However, I want to note the advantages and disadvantages that come with this method. Some good points include:
- Massaging can prevent engorgement, as it opens the way for the milk to flow properly.
- Suckling can be made easier if the breasts are massaged.
- It helps to boost milk supply fast.
And here are the disadvantages I consider important to mention:
- It cannot comfortably be done in public.
- You can end up injuring yourself if you don’t know how to do it properly.
Ask for Help from Family and Friends when You Need It
Mothers already have their hands full with the birth of a child. So, they need all the love and support possible from the partner, family, and friends, so that the mother can focus on taking care of the baby.
So, when you think, how can I increase my milk supply with family help, here’s the answer. They can help with cleaning and cooking or even hold the baby, while the mother pumps milk into storage bags. When you are less tensed and relaxed, your milk will flow better.
Here are the undeniable benefits of such conditions:
- Having people around can cheer you up and make things easier.
- Your partner’s support can relieve you of a lot of other chores.
- You can have time to rest, while the family looks after the baby.
- When you are not tensed, your mammary glands can easily produce milk.
However, you need to take into consideration some cons about it:
- Some family members and friends may not be interested in holding the baby.
- You may not feel free to breastfeed your child when people are staring at you.
How to Increase Your Milk Supply with Placenta Pills
Some women believe that consuming placenta pills can help to increase milk supply in their breasts. While this may be true, there has been no scientific explanation to back it up. Therefore, I strongly recommend consulting with your doctor before taking any placenta pills.
Among the pros I have heard about placenta pills, there are the following:
- A lot of women believe in placenta pills for milk production.
- These pills are known for helping to reduce postpartum depression.
But take into account the following cons as well:
- No scientific proof that it works.
- Such pills are pricey.
- Some women complained that instead of increasing their breast milk flow, it reduced it.
Drinking More Water
It is assumed that when your body takes in a lot of water, it can help in the production of more milk in the body. It also keeps you hydrated. This method is harmless and helps to keep you healthy anyway, so it is worth drinking more water to increase your milk supply.
Here are the main pros of this method:
- The body will be hydrated.
- There are a lot of talks about boosts in milk production since mothers started drinking more water.
However, there is no evidence to show that water actually helps to increase the flow of milk in the breasts.
There is more than one way to increase breast milk. You can try out each method and stick to what works for you. Remember that what method works for one woman may not work for another, and it is completely fine. From the reviewed ways, I believe it is possible to stay on what will work specifically for you.
Besides milk supply increasing methods, let’s take into consideration some questions about the supply of breast milk. Hope these answers will be helpful for you
Can breast milk supply be increased by using milk thistle?
It is claimed that milk thistle aids in the increase in milk supply. It is included in supplements that even I have used, and it worked. However, there are no medical backups for this claim.
Will drinking more milk have the same effect as drinking water?
It is known that taking too little liquid may cause your milk production to slow down, and taking an adequate amount of water can help boost it. However, there is no evidence that taking milk will help to increase milk supply since the milk would anyway be a liquid form.
At what point will milk supply cease?
Milk supply stops days to weeks after your baby stops weaning. This largely depends on how long you nursed your baby. Do you want to know how to dry up milk supply without getting mastitis? For me, I did not have the time to search for how to dry up milk supply. I simply met my doctor, and he gave me anti-lactation medications. I also gradually introduced formula, water, and other baby foods to my child.
What causes one’s breast milk to become low?
You are either underfeeding your child, not taking enough water, may have health challenges. You should see a doctor ascertain the reason why your milk supply is low.
What quantity of breast milk should I be producing?
In 24 hours, you should pump around 25-35 oz. (750-1,035 mL) of baby milk. It may take some time to get to this level, though. You may not hit the above numbers at first, but with time, you will.
My Final thoughts on Boosting Milking Supply
Purchasing a breastmilk booster or eating foods that contain herbs can help the mammary glands to produce more milk. But the method you choose for increasing your milk supply solely depends on your preferences.
Note that some mothers may be allergic to certain ingredients, while some hate drugs and prefer drinkable herbs. It all boils down to what you want to achieve, and if your supplement or food does just what is needed, then you are fine. When you wonder, how to increase my milk supply, stick to what works for you.
When going for the supplements, make sure to read through the ingredients. Manufacturers usually say it is all-natural, but then, when you look through the list properly, you will see that there are other unknown chemicals included. If you feel any weird pain when you take it, stop it and quickly contact a doctor.
Do you prefer to stimulate your breasts or use a pump? From the list above, what herbal remedy do you consider the best? Which of the supplements appeal more to you? Share your experience below as it may help other mothers with increasing their milk supplies.