Exclusively breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months of an infants life. Newborns can breastfeed up to 12 times a day! That is a LOT of work for mom. Our breast milk supply is our baby’s sole source of nutrition.
It can feel like your life is literally feed the baby, change the baby, feed the baby, change the baby, feed, feed, feed! The cycle is exhausting and can seem never ending. How will you ever sleep again or shower for that matter?
Life with a newborn can be stressful to say the least, and we all can agree when we are stressed we may not be taking complete care of ourselves. Let alone, having a newborn and not having time to take care of ourselves.
- Skipping meals or making poor diet choices.
- Lack of sleep.
There are a lot of things working against the breastfeeding mom and trying to maintain a good milk supply. Therefore, it is no surprise that the percentage of exclusively breastfeeding moms, on average, declines over the first few months.
The CDC reported that about 83% of moms in the US started out exclusively breastfeeding, and that percentage was down to 25% by 6 months.
That is a drastic change! There are a lot of barriers the exclusively breastfed mom has to overcome.
Let’s talk about what you can do to increase your breast milk supply and be successful in reaching your breastfeeding goals!
20 Tips to Boost Your Breast Milk Supply Quickly
* This article may contain affiliate links. See disclosures for more information.
Water is the ultimate number one thing you can do to increase your breast milk supply. Many people think they drink enough water, but in reality most people are not. Nursing mothers need about 3 liters of water per day. And it would be best to keep caffeine to a minimum as this tends to dehydrate you.
2. Skin to Skin
Getting as much skin to skin contact with your baby will help promote the release of oxytocin, a hormone essential to milk production. Have your baby in their diaper when feeding, and if it is chilly then keep a blanket over the two of you together.
3. Avoid bottles
Babies can develop a nipple preference for a bottle when offered it too soon or too frequently. It takes less effort for a baby to get milk from a bottle, so like any other human- they want to do what is easiest sometimes and that may become problematic. The baby may start to fuss at the breast or refuse it altogether. You can read my article here for more information about introducing your baby to a bottle.
4. Minimal pacifier use
Pacifiers do just what their name implies- they pacify your baby. Babies have an instinctual need to suck and the pacifier soothes this need. Your baby may also start to refuse to breastfeed if given a pacifier too often.
5. Yoga/ relaxing exercise
As I mentioned earlier, stress can really impact a breastfeeding mom. It is normal to feel stressed when you bring baby home, but find a way to relax and clear your mind from this. You may find that doing yoga or other type of relaxing exercise will be beneficial to your milk production. It is your happy hormones that produce milk, after all.
6. Power pump
This is a great way to give your supply a boost when needed. Doing this a couple times a day for a few days in a row will improve your breast milk supply by telling your breasts they need to make more milk. Remember- it is all about supply and demand!
The traditional way to power pump is a much longer time spent pumping, however, this did not work for me because I simple did not have that kind of time! Traditionally, you would spend about an hour total time pumping. The technique I used took only 20 minutes!
7. Flax seed
I used ground flax seed in my oatmeal in the morning. Different foods have not been scientifically proven to increase breast milk supply, but this worked for me.
This is an all around wholesome food, and easy to make. I had a bowl of oatmeal every morning for breakfast and it made a huge difference. There was a time in the beginning of my post partum period where I started to have hair thinning. The addition of oatmeal in the morning resolved that!
It is important to note: you should be eating the whole grain rolled oats from the container, not the instant kind!
9. Brewer’s yeast
Another additive that has been suggested by man moms to boost breast milk supply. Easy to add to any foods or shakes.
This was a daily addition to my oatmeal. Full of good nutrients. I used frozen blueberries and they warmed right up as my oatmeal cooked. Super easy!
Lactating women should have an addition 300 calories per day. This means healthy calories. Not empty fast-food calories.
12. Nursing vacation
Life gets busy and hectic. Life gets in the way of spending the time we need with our newborns. You may need to take a step back and remove yourself from the craziness of life. You may need to take a nursing vacation which means a few days where you can just focus on you and your baby.
If this seems outrageous to you, let me say this: Your baby is a baby for such a short time. What is the point of life? To hurry and get through it? Or to stop and enjoy every minute you can? These times with your newborn are what life is meant for.
13. Lactation Consultant
If you feel like you are having difficulty with positioning or any other concerns- seek help! Many hospitals offer lactation consultants assistance for free. Call your labor and delivery unit and ask!
One excellent resource I used is Milkology
14. Nurse on demand
Let your baby call the shots. Allow your baby to nurse whenever they want to. This can only benefit your breast milk supply. There is no need to put your baby on a schedule. There will be plenty of time down the road for schedule making.
15. Breast massage
Doing this while nursing or pumping can improve milk let-down and release of milk. Just be mindful not to massage too hard especially when your newborn first starts out because you don’t want them to get it too fast. It may cause gassiness/fussiness/spit ups.
16. Warm compress
Warm cloths or specially designed warm packs for breasts are great to help improve let down. I used this item from Lansinoh.
Another super food that can help support a healthy body and therefore healthy milk supply!
Garlic has been said by many to increase milk supply. Maybe that’s why I had been craving garlic lovers hummus!
19. Fenugreek or Mother’s Milk Tea
Fenugreek is an herb that many swear by to improve milk supply. It takes a lot of it to make a difference. Mother’s Milk Tea is an organic, caffeine free tea that I used.
One more super food! But we knew that since the days of Popeye.
Exclusively breastfeeding is not easy! It takes daily dedication and perseverance.
Use these tips in your daily life to help boost and maintain your breast milk supply.
Remember to get help if you need it! Relax. Take time with your baby, and take care of yourself. Breastfeeding is the hardest and most rewarding thing you can do. I hope to see the percentages of breastfeeding moms increase!
Happy breastfeeding, mama!