32 answers

Ways to Increase Breast Milk Supply

I was wondering if any mother out there can help me with this one. My baby is 3 months old and I am having a terrible time keeping my breast milk supply up. I have been pumping but it really doesn't produce much. I have been taking fenugreek and blessed thistle for about over a month now and it helps a little but nothing significant. Anybody out there that has some suggestions it would be greatly appreciated!!! Please I really need help on this one!

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Sorry if this is a repeat, didn't read all the responses. I was concerned right from the beginning I wouldn't produce enough and a friend of mine told me to pump after feedings and get up at night to pump. I did, it tool a little while to build up my supply and then never had a problem. I think I ended up pumping too much and then became and overproducer. Good luck.

Have you tried using either the soft shields or larger shields? (I go back and forth between them, when I quit responding to the soft ones, I switch to the large one and vice-versa...) Also pump EVERY day FIRST thing in the morning....

A.-

Try brewer's yeast. Years ago they use to give women beer to help their breast milk come in but brewer's yeast is a safer solution.

A.

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Hello A.,

I know how frustrating breastfeeding can be -- I only breastfed my first son for 7 weeks because it was just too much once I went back to school and work. I just had my 2nd son 11/15 so he is now 8 weeks old and its going a lot better this time, but I've discovered some helpful hints this time:
--> I try to drink 2-3 8 oz. servings of mother's milk tea each day to boost supply
--> They say sucking is truly the only thing that produces prolactin to get more milk production so let your baby continue sucking after feedings until they fall asleep
--> I've tried the "super switch" method where you allow your baby to eat from both sides even if they have not emptied the first breast to encourage more prolactin release
--> A great time to pump is when your baby is also nursing, pump the other side at the same time and you'll get more milk
--> When you are away from your baby and need to pump, try to pump more frequently than their feedings (ex. feed every 4 hours, pump every 2.5-3 hours) and have pictures of baby on hand or just envision your baby nursing to ease let down and allow you to pump as much as possible

I tried various mixtures of all these within the first 3 weeks and have built a more than adequate supply. I pump 3 days a week exclusively for 8 hours and then pump a bottle here and there throughout the rest of the week to provide enough for when I am away.

Another great resource is La Leche League - they have answer pages for any type of question as well as supportive advice and articles from mothers facing the same challenges as we are!

Hope this helps and stick with it!! It is so rewarding for you and the baby and once you get the hang of it and are more confident with your supply and its predictability you will be so glad you haven't given up - I know I am! Take care ~~ J.

1 mom found this helpful

First of all, do you think your milk supply is down, or are you worried about pumping? As long as your daughter is growing and is not begging for food all the time, SHE is probably fine and your issue is pumping. If you think your daughter is not getting enough, I don't have any advice; the ladies below have lots of great advice though! If it's pumping...how long have you been pumping? I pumped regularly on a very regular schedule, every day, 4-5 times a day, with my first. I had only minimal problems keeping him in 4 6oz bottles every day at daycare--because I started pumping young and kept at it, every day. My supply definitely went down when I was sick, even with a cold. Now, I've exclusively breastfed my 15 month old, and only pump occasionally, and I can barely get 4 oz, even at my peak milk production. I had to work hard to be relaxed, and to make sure I could pump contentedly. Stressing about how much milk I was getting did NOT help at all--huge psychological factor there! Also--with my second, because he was nursing, I think, I did not notice my milk supply going down much at all. With #1, colds diminished my supply for almost 3 days, even with a mild cold. With #2, I had influenza A when he was 7 months old; no problem. Food poisoning when he was 5 months old; no problem. So...I'd say nurse as often as you can, but also pump regularly. Your body will probably "perform" better for your daughter than for a pump, and work hard to get into a groove when you're pumping. At least, those things seemed to help me! Good luck...oh---and one more thing--I didn't get baby blues. BUT...between 3 and 4 months, when I'd been back at work and was no longer "adjusting" (ha!) and everyone thought I had it together, my baby started to grow...and since I was mostly pumping and not nursing, ouch, I couldn't convince my boobs to give MORE at a shot. I was SO stressed and SO miserable. So...if baby is growing, especially, try to nurse more so your body gets the "produce more" signal. That was my most frustrating point with a newborn--far moreso than bringing him home from the hospital! It got better, though, even before we started him on rice cereal. Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

First & foremost, remember that your baby empties your breasts better than a pump ever will. Is your baby fussy, or is there some other sign that maybe s/he isn't getting enough milk? If not, it may be that you don't respond well to the pump yet.

Check out kellymom.com & workandpump.com for great information on pumping. Also, google for a recipe for "lactation cookies." They are a super yummy (and relatively healthy) way to boost your supply. I've always had immediate results from eating them.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Oatmeal! Eat a bowl of oatmeal everyday. I started doing that the day after we got home from the hospital and haven't have any problems. Or you could eat oatmeal cookies. I've used Fenugreek in the past (with my second son) with pretty good results. Keep in mind that how much milk you can pump is in no way an indicator of how much milk your baby is getting. I am a terrible pumper even though I know my son is getting enoughmilk. A baby is far more efficient at emptying the breast than a pump is. And nurse, nurse, nurse. You could do a nurse in where you just stay in bed for a whole weekend and nurse like crazy. As long as baby is gaining weight and having lots of wet and dirty diapers your supply is probably fine. 3 months (12 weeks) is also the time of a growth spurt where you will need to do lots of nursing to increase your supply for the growing baby. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I also had this problem at around 3 months. I've read that feeling like your supply isn't enough is fairly common when baby gets to be 3 or 4 months old. I didn't know then that your supply can decrease significantly when you get your period. At my baby's 4 month check-up, I asked her pediatrician about my concerns, and she gave me formula to supplement with. Looking back, I wish I hadn't supplemented with formula unless I was sure the baby wasn't getting enough to eat. I feel like I didn't give my body enough of a chance to build the supply up. The teas never helped me, although eating oatmeal, drinking tons of water, and increasing how much I ate did help. As others have said, stress can make it harder. Trust that your body is doing a great job! And best of luck to you. My baby is almost 10 months, and I'm still doing the best I can to breastfeed and pump. It takes me 3 rounds of pumping at work and at night to get enough for one 6 oz. bottle. But as much breastmilk as I can give her is better than none!

I worried about this early on too! And asked about it on here and got great responses. Here's a list of things that have worked for me:
1. eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast every day
2. fenugreek, blessed thistle, and brewer's yeast 3 times a day
3. drink lots and lots of water, no caffeine
4. make sure you are getting enough good calories (dieting or cutting calories can decrease supply)
5. get enough sleep (I know...how? But try!)
6. nurse as much as possible when with your baby, and let baby nurse as long as she/he wants
7. pump after baby is done eating
8. pump as much, if not more, often than baby would eat when you are away

I know someone else said it, but how much you pump does not always give an accurate look at your supply...only your baby can tell that. Don't give up, you are doing a great thing for your baby! Giving formula instead of nursing, even though it is convenient, could negatively affect your supply. Also, around 3 months is a growth spurt, which can make it feel like you don't have enough and baby is constantly hungry. Nursing as much as possible is the best thing you can do, for your baby and your supply. Best of luck to you!

I would not take any herbal products while breat feeding as while it may help your milk supply increase, it also goes directly to your baby's body. Even if the herb's are considered safe (for adults) there is no way to determine how much of this is going directly to the baby and if it is safe for a 3 month old. What may be safe for a 2 yr. old may not be safe for a 3 mo. old.

I have to add, that if you are still breastfeeding directly, and just pumping to try to build up a freezer supply, "not getting much" is totally normal - you breasts are making the exact right amount that your baby drinks, if this is the case. If you are still nursing exclusively, You should only expect to get 1/2 to 2 oz. TOTAL (for both breasts) per nursing session....pumps are not as effecient as the baby, and there is not the emotional connnection with the pump to make you let down as well, either. You would have to skip feedings to get more.

This site has lots of great information on breastfeeding and pumping, check it out:
http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/pumping_decrease.html

Good Luck!

Jessie

P.S. I drank at least 64 oz. of water a day while I was breastfeeding - that is a HUGE help.

Hi A.

Nurse as often as you can . I only nursed my son and never had a problem keeping my supply up . But I work in daycare and most mothers that pump say their supply goes way down or stops within 4 months . There is a difference from baby nursing and the breast pump .

first what you need to do is relax. whats the worst that can happen? you would need to suppliment. and though i do not encourage this, im just saying that your baby will not starve to death in a short period of time. seriously stressing will not help your milk let down so you need to relax.

second, find a local or nearby la leche league. they have on their website listed any and all leagues in your state. remember to check all neighboring cities and towns as well. the closest one to me is an hour away. they will be able to help one way or the other.

take caution going to your doctor. they usually do not have your best interests in mind, as most clinics receive kickbacks from formula companies to suggest and recommend formula at any given time. unless you personally trust your doctor outside the clinic, i would take caution, and remember that your instincts are more important and more spot on than any doctor. however, if you feel in your gut something is wrong and needs to be done, by all means, listen to those instincts. :D

anyway. you have to relax, drink more water, dont diet, take it easy on the exersizing. take it easy, do some light walking and nothing more. sleep more, ask someone close to you if they will help you out with chores or soemthing so you can relax. and remember, breastfeeding is supply and demand, so any time your baby wants to nurse, do it, and it should increase your supply over time. again, unless you know there is a health issue at stake, i wouldnt worry about supplementing, and definatly do not start solids.

good luck!
www.askdrsears.com is also a good place to look....

I would like to start out by saying; this is extremely common with women. You are not alone. I also went thru the same thing. I am still going thru it. My son is 4 months old and I have been supplemental formula feeding him for three of them. I still breast feed as often as possible but I know I was not producing enough milk. At the end of the day I know he is getting enough nourishment from breastfeeding and the formula. I have to say, which I know several other mothers suggested, to quit taking the Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle. Those are dietary supplements which your child is also getting in his or her system from you breast feeding. They have not done extensive research to how it affects infants. I do not want to scare you; I also took both of those supplements for a while. My lactation consultant recommended them; however when I told my OB he told me to stop taking them immediately. I would recommend to breast feed and pump as much as possible and if you have to formula feed in between. Know that your baby is getting what he or she needs. If you have further reservations, consult with the pediatrician. Good luck and don’t stress over this, like I said earlier it is very common.

Malt always worked for me! You can buy malt at the store to mix in a milkshake (turning it into a malt)- my favorite!! Or, after the last feeding (or when you know you'll have a few hours before feeding/pumping again) you could have a beer...

I agree with Erika...Relaxing is the best thing you can do. I have been pumping and nursing my son for his full 9 months. I have worried a little about milk supply, but never for long. The tips I can give you are to pump in the morning after your baby eats the first time. This has caused me to be very full in the mornings, which is good for a working mom-most of my day's milk is pumped then. I can also tell you that when I pump, if I am worked up about something, my output is about half of normal.
I also had to be away from my son a couple of months ago due to a death in the family. I pumped for 4 days straight, every 4 hours, on the dot. When I got back, my supply was higher than ever. Regular nursing and pumping really makes a difference. It may not help for a few days, and I know that feels like an eternity, but it will help. Good luck and try to relax:)

It is not the easiest, but I always got the best results when breastfeeding my little girl on one breast while pumping the other.

Hi:) I'm responding mainly because I breastfed my baby (still am, actually) and constantly felt that he wasn't getting enough because of different things. At the end of the day, though, he was healthy, growing, and I really was making enough for him.

I drank a lot of water -- at least 64 oz. --, drank mother's milk tea, and also took fenugreek.

Examine why you think you're not making enough. If you just *know* the baby is still hungry, you're probably right. But if you're hearing about people pumping 11 oz in a sitting and you're not making that much, try not to get too freaked out. Also, if you're only pumping after the baby eats, you likely won't get more than an once or two because the baby's eaten most of the milk.

Good luck, and try not to stress out too much (easier said than done, I know). But I was in your situation and am still breastfeeding my 14 1/2 month old, so I know that it sometimes feels worse than it is!! And I supplemented a tiny bit with formula when I really felt the baby was still hungry (things that lowered my supply were not drinking enough and getting my period), and my son and milk supply were fine.

You're doing a good job:)

i wish my baby was still that age! well first, try not to stress about it...easier said than done, i know. i always pump in the morning, i get the most milk then. it really helps me to drink tons of water. i also drink rasberry leaf tea and the mother's milk tea if i feel i'm running low. another thing is if i kind of squeeze my breast while i'm pumping i tend to get more. i really don't think i get as much when i pump as when my son eats directly on me, so don't put to much into thinking what you get pumping is what the baby gets. their little mouthes know what to do! good luck and keep trying. my son is 15 mo's and i still love the bonding from feeding him!

Great responses already but wanted to add one more thing. Fenugreek never seemed to help me even when I had enough to make my urine smell of maple syrup (That's what a lactation consultant told me would be a sign that I was taking in enough, weird, I know:) Anyways I found brewers yeast to be more helpful and there's no reason you can't take both. Brewers yeast is full of B vitamins so its good for you anyways...and LOTS of water, lots and lots and lots of water:)
K. H

Try the following amazing websites for BF information:

http://www.drjacknewman.com/

http://www.llli.org/

Your request doesn't say whether you are nursing, so I assume so. (I am also struggling with milk supply largely because my baby has not been able to nurse.) The best way to increase milk supply, according to every source I see, is to nurse more frequently. So I would recommend putting that baby on any time you think he/she might nurse. Are you taking the fenugreek until your skin smells like maple? I am also following advice to eat oatmeal daily. And I have found that sleep has a profound effect on my supply. It drops when I become sleep-deprived or sick. Are you in contact with a La Leche group or leader? That can be so helpful.

I tried a the herbal remedies and the pumping. I had the best luck with renting a hospital grade pump. Call the hospital you delivered at and see where you can rent one. You can even get a perscription from your OB in case you have a medical reimbursement account. I went to Medical Supply company in Woodbury.

Try drinking a warm beverage while you pump and try to do it hands free, I made a bra into a pumping bra so I could use my hands and that helped relax me. Another idea to see how much you are actually producing is to pump on one side while you nurse on the other to use your natural let down while nursing help stimulate the let down on other side.

I would tend to agree with the many moms who said that your baby is actually getting what he/she needs. I have the same thing happen where it seems like I'm not pumping much, but I have to learn to trust my body NO MATTER WHAT, even if my sense of logic tells me that I'm not producing what I should. It doesn't help when my sisters-in-law tell me that they were pumping 11 to 13 oz. at the most and here I can pump 3 oz. on average.

Be sure to place more emphasis on feeding at the breast rather than pumping for storage, even though it's tempting because you probably want to have plenty of breastmilk for the times when you're away. Remember, your baby is much more efficient at getting milk than is your breastpump.

I would make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids and pumping didn't seem to really help me too much either. I think it is hard not to get frustrated but the best thing you can do is drink lots of water and even if it takes more time the more the baby eats from you the more milk your body will produce on it's own.

I am a 33 year old Mom of 3 children and they were all breast fed, 1, 10 months and the other 2, 4 months.

Have you tried pumping while you are driving. This is when I got the most milk. My drive to work was 45 min I would pump the whole time or until I was 100% sure there wasn't any left. I usualy got 9oz out of each breast. I was only pumping no breastfeeding and my son was sleeping threw the night. If for some reason he did wake at night and i did breastfeed him the breast that I feed him from would be about half as much as normal. I pumped on the was home and before I went to bed. About 6oz on the way home 5oz at night. Total 35-40oz. GOOD LUCK!!!!

You can try to pump after feedings whenever possible. That has worked for me. I would also suggest talking with your doctor because there are prescription medications that can give you as well, such as Reglan (metoclopramide). I have not used them, but I have heard that they do work.

Sorry if this is a repeat, didn't read all the responses. I was concerned right from the beginning I wouldn't produce enough and a friend of mine told me to pump after feedings and get up at night to pump. I did, it tool a little while to build up my supply and then never had a problem. I think I ended up pumping too much and then became and overproducer. Good luck.

Have you tried using either the soft shields or larger shields? (I go back and forth between them, when I quit responding to the soft ones, I switch to the large one and vice-versa...) Also pump EVERY day FIRST thing in the morning....

Just wanted to add something. I have recently found out that my form of birth control I was using was actually (at least partially responsible if not completely) decreasing my milk supply. So if you are using anything that has hormones in it talk to you doctor to make sure that it isnt conflicting with your milk supply production.

Are you taking 12 fenugreek capsules a day? Taking just the recommended dosage on the bottle won't do anything, but you should see some improvement if you up the dosage.

Good luck momma!

A.-

Try brewer's yeast. Years ago they use to give women beer to help their breast milk come in but brewer's yeast is a safer solution.

A.

I used this prescription call Domperidone and it worked. It's used when mom's adopt and want to try nursing...it's been known to start a supply of milk up, but also works really well to increase your supply if it's gone down. you have to ask your doctor for it and I had to get it at a special pharmacy that made it from scratch.
good luck!
I wish I had more info on it. I through all mine out.
A.

I hate to suggest alcohol since I think it does more harm than good in MOST instances but when I was nursing my son my mom (an OB nurse) recommended drinking 1/2 a beer a day because the brewer's yeast in it helps with milk production. I didn't do it every day (I'm not a beer drinker so had to choke it down sometimes) just a few times when my supply felt low and it did seem to help. I believe someone else mentioned you could take the brewer's yeast by itself somehow so maybe you could find some of that. I was able to nurse my son 12 1/2 months and he's been very healthy.

If you know when they generally eat, pump before feeding them. Your milk comes in for your child, but hates the action of the pump. It may work for a while then you have to switch gears again.

The other thing I did
when they would sleep at night, I would pump because they weren.t nursing as often, and my milk was there and usually on the sheets. Pumping whe my baby wasn't in need but the flow was there worked for me.

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