Many nursing moms feel the need to boost their milk supply from time to time during their breastfeeding years. There can be all sorts of reasons for this: nighttime weaning, growth spurts, and a baby enthusiastic over solids can all have an impact on milk supply. We can easily start to get nervous when it seems we aren’t producing enough milk, but in most cases, there are some very simple and natural ways for increasing breast milk supply.
Simple and Natural Ways for Increasing Breast Milk Supply
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- Stay Hydrated~ I know, I know. How often are we reminded as moms (and as adults in general) to drink enough water? But it’s true! Our bodies clearly need sufficient fluid intake in order to produce enough healthy milk for our little ones. If you’re a coffee drinker (and I am, too!), remember that you may need even more water to make up for the diuretic effect of caffeine. Try keeping a water bottle with you or a full water glass out in view. Add some lemon, cucumber, or herbs if you find plain water boring.
- Get Enough Rest~ This is another one that’s easier said that done, but still so important during the nursing years! We can’t expect our bodies to produce enough healthy milk when we are running on fumes. Going to bed earlier and learning to nurse while lying down can help get you the rest you need.
- Boost Your Nutrition~ We need lots of calories while nursing, and those calories need to come from healthy, whole foods. Try to get some protein with all of your meals and snacks. Munch on veggies with hummus or apples with peanut butter. Keep some prepared chicken salad in the fridge. Make sure you are feeding your body so that your body can feed your nursling!
- Nurse More Frequently~ At first this can seem counter-intuitive. If our supply is low, we need to preserve our milk and nurse less often, right? Wrong! Our bodies are designed to make more milk if our little one needs more. How do we tell our bodies that baby needs more milk? Nurse more frequently! We might need to give it a few days before a big difference is seen, but be patient and allow your body time to meet its greater production requirements.
- Watch Pacifiers and Bottles~ These artificial nipples can certainly serve a purpose, but for the breastfeeding baby, it can be a very good idea to be cautious with their use. Some babies have no trouble going from breast to bottle to breast again, and some moms have no trouble keeping up an abundant milk supply while also using bottles and pacifiers. However, if you need to increase your supply, cutting these artificial nipples out will probably encourage your little one to satisfy their urge to suck where God intended: at your breast, encouraging more milk production!
- Try an Herbal Tea or Supplement~ There are many quality herbal teas and supplements on the market designed to help boost milk supply. Many of them have the herb fenugreek in them. In the past I had been skeptical of how much this one herb would really work. Then I drank a good amount of tea with fenugreek in it. I woke up in the morning knowing without a doubt that fenugreek will in fact boost your supply! A couple of teas to consider would be Mother’s Milk Tea from Traditional Medicinals or Milkmaid Tea from Earth Mama Angel Baby (Amazon affiliate links). And, as always, it’s a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before starting any herbal formula.
What If Your Supply Is Still Low?
If you’ve tried these simple approaches to increasing your supply and haven’t seen results in about a week, it might be time to seek some outside assistance. That doesn’t mean running out to buy a can of formula (but if your baby is losing weight or not having enough wet diapers, you may need to take more drastic action). There are many fantastic breastfeeding support groups, lactation consultants, midwives, and doctors who love to help women overcome breastfeeding challenges and enjoy many months or years of a happy breastfeeding relationship.
And never forget that all of us here at Breastfeeding Place are glad to help you with our ideas and encouragement! We’d love to hear from you with your questions!