Increasing Breast Milk Supply

Updated on May 08, 2016
J.N. asks from Kent, WA
23 answers

Hello!
I'm looking for ways of increasing my breast milk supply, I BF and supplement with 1-3 2-3 ounce formula bottles per day. My son is almost 6 weeks and is starting to want more at each feeding. I've been limited to nursing on my left side because of a surgery I had on my right breast a few years ago and now only a few drops of milk will come out. I know this from my sons frustration on the right side and trying to pump. Docs told me after surgery this could happen, I would just love to increase the supply so that I BF as long as possible and don't have to just start giving him more formula.
Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

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H.S.

answers from Portland on

Hi J.,
A lot of people can BF on one side only, the more you nurse the more milk you will have, unless you had surgery on your left side too you may not need to supplement at all.
Check out:
http://www.lowmilksupply.org/
www.kellymom.com

3 moms found this helpful
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C.M.

answers from Eugene on

Congratulations on becoming a mom! I think it is so great that you want to breastfeed and are working so hard at it. I am currently breastfeeding both my children. My daughter will be 3 in December and my son is 14 months. I am also a Doula and have had some training in breastfeeding as well as my personal experience. I was wondering if your son is only upset when he nurses on the side you had surgery? Also, do you get more than a few drops when you pump the side that was not effected by surgery? Many things can affect your milk supply and let down. Our breasts work on supply and demand. If you are only nursing on one side the other side will have a decreased supply. The best way to increase your milk is to nurse more often and/or pump more often. There are also some teas you can buy in most grocery stores that aid in increasing your supply and herbs that can help. The hospital or birth center where you had your son should have a lactation consultant on staff you can talk to and who can recommend the best herbal treatment for you. There are some great books on breastfeeding:
The Nursing Mothers Companion by Kathleen Huggins 4th edition
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by LaLeche League 2004
The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Newman and Pitman
Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Newman and Pitman
Just to name a few. Also check out some websites like:
www.lalecheleague.org
www.mothering.com
I hope this was helpful to you. Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.
Best wishes to you, keep up the good work, and good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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K.R.

answers from Portland on

Hi J.,

What no one ever told us is that breast feeding is hard! Congratulations that you are working on it so well and that you are continuing to try! We went through something similar. The light at the end of the tunnel is that I now pump enough for my daughter and to send a package off to the milk bank each month. Good luck with your breastfeeding.

I just died a little in side each time my baby drank baby formula to suppliment the ounce or two of milk that I could produce the first three weeks of her life. Are you using a catheter attached to your nipple to feed him formula and maintain his latch? That and a catheter on the pinky finger is what we did.

First, try "power pumping" once a day for two to three days. In this exercise, pump every ten minuts and leave yourself ten minuts of no pumping, off and on for an hour a day. There are also suppliments like Mother's Milk tea, fenugreek and Blessed Thistle in the herb isle that can help get the milk supply going. These are not long term solutions, but can usualy jump-start breast milk supplies. Suppliments like blessed thistle and fenugreek work. They are in the healthfood section of the store.

When you pump, every couple of hours on a daily basis, keep going for no less than twenty minuets, but no more than thirty to avoid causing your nipples to bleed.

It was so against everything we believe in to give formula, but we did it out of necessity. It sounds like you are in the same boat. Good luck with your pumping. It will increase your supply, I assure you, with persistance that you've already proven you have.

1 mom found this helpful
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R.C.

answers from Seattle on

The lactation specialist told me to use something called "fenu greek" after I got an infection and lost my milk almost completely. She told me to take 3 capsules 3 times a day!! Also, she had me pump at least 5 times a day even if you aren't getting any milk. Try to pump for 5-10 minutes everytime. It's a lot but it worked. I had to take it every day on time or I didn't make but a few drops of milk. I took it for 10 months before I started making enough milk on my own. My son is 14 mo. now and I'm still nursing but don't need any supplements. You can buy Fenu Greek at GNC or some local Pharmacies. You don't need a prescription it's just in with the vitamins. Good luck to you!!! And bravo for trying so hard to stick with it!

1 mom found this helpful
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S.S.

answers from Portland on

i struggled with my milk supply in the first 3 months. I tried the Fenugreek supplements but noticed that my son had more gas when I was on the supplements. So i tried something called "Mother's Lactation Tonic" by Herb Farm (You can order it online). This has Fenugreek in it but for some reason didn't cause gas. This tonic works great and I still use it every once in a while whenever I am sensing a lower milk supply. In fact, it works so well that I don't have to supplement with formula at night any more.

Also, I drinking 1 dark beer a day helps increase your supply as well.

Good luck and dont give up! I know how frustrating it can be. My son was a lazy eater so he wasn't stimulating my milk production enough. I switched pumps and made sure I pumped after most feedings and that really helped as well. The pump I use is the Advent Isis Pump and its GREAT. I didnt realize the pump I was using before this was not working for me till I tried a new one.

Oh and drinking more water helped too! And I mean A LOT more!

1 mom found this helpful
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E.S.

answers from Portland on

Breastfeeding is really hard and requires so much determination and support in the first few months. My youngest is turning one in December and we are working on weaning. I would try to nurse on your right side even if you think there is not much milk. Nursing increases supply and some is better than none. Use the left first so your baby doesn't get too frustrated. Mine only eats from one each feeding anyway, always has..... Oatmeal works and TONS of water! But just nurse on demand and your body will begin producing more until it meets baby's needs. Good luck!

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W.L.

answers from Seattle on

Hi J..

There's a supplement called Fenugreek that is really good at increasing your milk supply. It worked REALLY well for me (a little too well at first), but it definitely works! It never happened to me, but a friend of mine told me that it made her sweat smell like maple syrup. That's the only odd thing I've ever heard about it though. It's been used both as a spice and to increase lactation for at least decades all over the world, so it's definitely safe to use. You can find it in capsule or tea form.

I hope that helps. Good luck! :o)

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D.M.

answers from Portland on

I had good results with an herbal supplement called Fenugreek (found at any natural food section or store) and a Traditional Medicine's tea called Mother's Milk (found at Whole Foods or New Seasons). Also remember to drink lots of water and relax as much as possible.
Good luck and remember any amount of breastfeeding is great and if you have to stop for any reason you did your best and it will be okay.

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B.A.

answers from Seattle on

Hello!

I just wanted to encourage you because I have a friend who only nursed from her left breast and she was able to exclusively nurse her daughter (after the first few weeks of frustration) until she was 6-7 months old and then nursed her until weaning at around 2 years old.

The main thing, from what I understand, is to nurse FIRST before supplementing. The more your baby nurses, the more milk you will produce. You've gotten a lot of great advice about supplements and I wish you all the best!

~B.

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M.M.

answers from Seattle on

There are some herbal teas that help stimulate production, but the BEST way to up your production is to allow your baby to nurse as often as wants/needs. As good as pumps are, your baby is better. I know it's difficult because I've been there, but I would nurse/pump every 2 hours for a couple of days until I noticed an increase in supply.
Relaxing is also a key factor. Listen to music, watch TV, surf the net & before you realize you'll have pumped more than expected.
One last trick & this really works... find a good Chiropractor... an adjustment ALWAYS helped me produce more; being properly aligned allows our bodies to function at maximum potential. You can locate a DC with additional training in pediatric & maternity care at www.icpa4kids.org & search in your area to locate.
I was skeptical at first, but swear by it now. Good Luck & stick with it....it does get easier. I've pumped for a minimum of a year with all 3 of my children.
M.

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G.T.

answers from Portland on

Hi,
Pumping extra long will help. I found that after 11 minutes I wouldn't have another let down until the 16 minute mark. I would have another small let down at 22 minutes, and would stop at 28 minutes. It will be different for you, but just a guide as to what worked for me. My first child really ramped up his eating, so I was desparate to increase early on. If you do this at a feeding time, eventually you can switch to BF and stop the pumping, maybe after 4-5 days. Of course, eat well and drink lots of water. Good luck!

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H.J.

answers from Bellingham on

I went through a similiar situation with my son who is now 13 months old. I had a very low milk supply and was told even by a lactation specialist that it would be unlikely I could continue with any success. I tried pumping and feeding him through a syringe (lavage feeding). We struggled, he lost weight for the first 3 weeks and we both cried. I am stubborn so I pumped 6-8 times per day to stimulate supply (tried to do it every other feeding so that I could still try to breast feed and the most I ever got was 1-3 oz at a time), drank mother's milk tea and found a tinture by motherlove called More Milk Plus Special blend. You can find it online (luckyvitamin.com) and I suggest buying the 8oz quantity to save money (it is the one with Goats Rue). I had to go back to work after 7 weeks so I continued this regimen but had to drop down to pumping during the day (3-4 times) so I could breast feed in the morning and night. I still had to supplement with formula but was able to have him on 50-60% breastmilk for over 6 months. It was tough and consuming but in the end I have a healthy big guy who is the 90% of weight and height. So I did something right. Hang in there because it is not easy but know that you are not alone and though the appreciation for your efforts is often silent..your reward is snuggled in your arms everynight. (PROUD Mother of 1 son and fulltime Manager of a dept of 70 employees, partner is a commercial fisherman who is gone 1/2 the year).

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L.H.

answers from Anchorage on

Hi!

I nursed twins on one breast for two years. I exclusively nursed them till they were one and then added food. My midwives told me to drink nettles and raspberry leaf tea during my pregnancy and after to increase milk supply. It definitely did that. They also said on occasion to drink Guiness. Only one glass though. I agree with the other comments on resting. If your stressed your milk supply will go way down. I wish you the best!

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M.B.

answers from Portland on

Hi J.
I just wanted to add that you can take domperidone. I adopted my son at birth and have a full supply of milk by 2months. Before he was born i pumped every two to three hours during the day and rested at night. You dont need two breasts to bf we really only have two just in case we have twins then we can feed them both at the same time. So, one breast is actually perfect! I encourage you to keep going. and to use all the encouragement from us moms. To get domperidone you can order it from www.inhousepharmacy.com In the beginning i took 8 pills of 10mg. I took two pills 4 times a day. I take a smaller dose now. On that website its also called Motillium. You can do some research on domperidione and find that its not FDA approved and its originally for stomach problems buts its side affect is lactation. I have been taking it and i can probably stop but i am nervous so i just keep taking it since i have had no side effects and my son is addicted to nursing to sleep at 17mo. In my word of lactation from doctors to lactation nurses its widely excepted to take domperidone for nursing just not all doctors believe it and so some wont prescribe it but even if they did its still cheaper to get it at inhousepharmacy. Just a heads up its does take 10 for delivery so i would order asap. I also know of a lactation consult at good samaritan named Tracy Wilson she is great and has helped me in the past. Best of luck!
MJ

F.F.

answers from Portland on

Fenugreek, Goat's rue, all of these herbal ideas are great, you can also contact the La Leche League: here is some info from their website:

La Leche League of Portland, Oregon

All breastfeeding mothers and mothers-to-be interested in breastfeeding are welcome to come to our meetings or call one of our Leaders for breastfeeding help or information. Babies are always welcome at our meetings.

La Leche League Leaders are experienced mothers who have breastfed their own babies and who have been trained and accredited by La Leche League International to help mothers and mothers-to-be with all aspects of breastfeeding. They are available by phone whenever you have breastfeeding questions or concerns.

For Leader information, contact our Metro Area Referral Line at ###-###-####.

Meetings in North/Northeast Portland

La Leche League of North/Northeast Portland meets on the second Thursday of each month at 10:00 a.m. at the Rose City Park Methodist Church, 5830 NE Alameda. (One block South of Sandy Blvd.) Meetings are not church affiliated.

Toddler Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m., at Augustana Lutheran Church at NE 15th and Knott. Feel free to bring a snack to share, if you like. If you are interested in toddler meetings, please e-mail Lyla at [email protected]____.com so she can add you to the Yahoo group.

For more information contact a North/Northeast Leader:

Mary ###-###-####
Summer ###-###-####
Jude ###-###-####
Emily [email protected]____.com
Meetings in Southeast Portland

La Leche League of Southeast Portland meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 10:00 a.m. at the Epworth United Methodist Church 1333 SE 28th. (Just North of SE Hawthorne.) Meetings are not church affiliated

For more information contact a Southeast Leader:

Ginny ###-###-####
Sara ###-###-####
Sierra ###-###-####
Louisa ###-###-####
[email protected]____.com

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J.B.

answers from Seattle on

Have you tried herbs? I have heard Fenugreek does a great job, I believe you take around 1500mg per day, but you should ask your lactation consultant. When i first started breastfeeding, I took a lactation blend called "Lactation Blend Nursing support" I got it at whole foods and I really think it added to my supply. I actually stopped taking it after a week because I had plenty of milk. It is a blend of many different herbs including fennel and fenugreek. Remember, even the smallest amount of milk you can give your baby is better than none at all, so don't give up, even if you do have to supplement with formula.

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H.R.

answers from Seattle on

Hi! I worked very hard for seven weeks to get my supply up, so I know the tricks of the trade!

First off, I would try a nurse in. Get a comfy position on a couch, big fluffy chair, or bed. Make sure you have all the snacks, entertainment, and large jug of water in your reach. All of the baby's supplies right there. Then nurse him. Don't touch a dish. Don't clean the house. Don't do anything but nurse, and when baby isn't nursing, hold him skin to naked skin. That contact will help keep your mothering hormones keep in overdrive.

Drink tons of water. Fenugreek is a good supplement. You want to take about 6 pills a day, 2 with each meal. Until you and baby smell like maple syrup.

If this continues to be a problem, look into domperidone or goat's rue. Goat's rue is easier to get in the states than the dom.

Mostly, a couple of days or nursing-in and a week of fenugreek should help quite a bit!

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A.R.

answers from Seattle on

Hi J.
You're doing such a wonderful thing with BF. My daughter is 8 weeks old and we really enjoy the bonding time. It was hard at first and I also had issues with supply, but I'm glad I stuck with it. I also supplement with formula and her needs have increased to 4 ounce feedings. I felt bad about supplementing at first, but I realized that BF however often you can with what you can is just fine. For me, one of the best pieces of advice I got was to drink more water. I drink up to 3 liters of water a day and this alone has helped me tremendously with increasing my supply. I also started drinking fenugreek tea and notice this helped when I first started drinking it, but not as much now. But, I still drink it since it's part of my morning ritual to have some tea instead of coffee. You can also find cookie recipes on the internet which help with lactation ( I think the key ingredients are oatmeal, flaxseed meal and brewer's yeast) which are fun to make and delicious. I did notice feeling engorged after eating them. If you haven't already, I would also speak with a lactation consultant and also your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe something to help increase supply. Best of luck to you.

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D.P.

answers from Seattle on

Hi J.,

Like another mom who responded, I too had a second letdown after pumping for 21-22 minutes, and would get another 1-2 ounces each time. When i needed to increase my supply, a local La Leche leader suggested frequent pumping, kneading my breasts before each pumping (and leaning forward during pumping; gravity is your friend) and she also suggested eating oatmeal. Instant oatmeal is fine - she said there isn't any explanation why oatmeal would increase your milk supply but many moms reported that it worked for them (and it seemed to work for me!) Also, your body should respond within a couple of days to your baby's increasing hunger, and you'll likely start producing more spontaneously. Good luck!

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N.P.

answers from Portland on

When I returned to work, I was really stressed about my milk supply. I tried pumping all the time and letting my son feed frequently, but I just wasn't keeping up with him. What worked for me was More Milk Plus Special Blend. I first tried just the regular More Milk Plus, but it didn't work for me. The Special Blend has an additional ingredient and I could see the results within a day. Even now, if I forget for a day, I see my supply go down significantly. The stuff is pretty expensive, but not too bad at luckyvitamin.com. It's cheapest to get the liquid stuff instead of the pills. It tastes gross, but I mix it with a small amount of milk, then chase it with another glass of milk, and it is quite tolerable. Best of luck! N.

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J.K.

answers from Seattle on

There is a LaLeche League book called "Breastfeeding After Reduction Surgery." Even if your surgery wasn't a reduction surgery, the book would probably be full of helpful ideas on managing and monitoring milk supply in special circumstances. They have an entire website dedicated to breastfeeding after surgery! http://www.bfar.org/

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A.W.

answers from Springfield on

Healthy nursing tea by secrets of tea helped me..!!!!!!!!!

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A.V.

answers from Seattle on

The pure fenugreek supplements, start out with just a few then work up to more. Also, consult your lactation nurse at your birthing hospital about how much to take, but I'm now up to way more then they told me to take, and my mile has finally come back (I had a bout of mastitis about two months ago and it dropped my supply drastically, but now it's come back with teh frnugreek and lots of work, nursing and pumping).

Best wishes!!!

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