A.K. asks from Ironwood, MI on January 12, 2009
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!
A.K. answers from Milwaukee on January 14, 2009
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.
S.C. answers from Des Moines on January 13, 2009
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.B. answers from Davenport on January 13, 2009
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.
J.G. answers from Omaha on January 12, 2009
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.
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E.B. answers from Duluth on January 13, 2009
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!!
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J.R. answers from Minneapolis on January 12, 2009
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.
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M.H. answers from Minneapolis on January 12, 2009
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!
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B.P. answers from Minneapolis on January 13, 2009
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!
J.S. answers from Minneapolis on January 12, 2009
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!
N.R. answers from Des Moines on January 13, 2009
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.
J.R. answers from Davenport on January 13, 2009
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:
P.S. I drank at least 64 oz. of water a day while I was breastfeeding - that is a HUGE help.