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How do I increase my milk supply?

Updated: Dec 1, 2019


How to increase your milk supply will depend on what has caused low milk supply in the first place. However, milk removal is a crucial part of building a milk supply. It is necessary to remove milk frequently and completely to stimulate the production of more milk. You can achieve this by pumping frequently with an electric pump, by hand expressing milk, and by nursing frequently if the baby is able to nurse. For more information on pumping please see the article "Expressing/ increasing low milk supply".


Emptying the breasts

You can use your baby to empty the breast, which will increase your milk supply. Snuggle up with your baby on the sofa or bed with Netflix and eat, drink and breastfeed the whole weekend. Tell your friends and relatives that you are having a breastfeeding holiday for few days and you will not want to be disturbed. So many mums swear that it works.

However, that will only work if your baby is capable of draining the breast efficiently. If your baby is not latched on deeply on the breast or if your baby is making you sore or has a tongue-tie or any other abnormality, this method is not going to work. 

It is important to know that a baby  who is well latched on gets milk more easily than one who is not. A baby who is poorly latched on can get milk only when the flow of milk is rapid. 

In the first 3-6 weeks of life, many babies tend to fall asleep at the breast when the flow of milk is slow, not necessarily when they have had enough to eat and not because they are lazy or want to be pacified. After this age, they may start to pull away at the breast when the flow of milk slows down. However, some pull at the breast even when they are much younger, sometimes even in the first days and some babies fall asleep even at 3 or 4 months when the milk flow is slow.

If your baby is struggling to empty the breast breasts compressions will help.


Mum expressing her milk with an electric pump.

Pumping

If you need to increase your milk production or your baby cannot feed directly from the breast or is not able to drain the breast efficiently then consider a double electric pump. It will be money well spend as double pumping will save you so much time and sleep. You can either buy (e.g. Medela swing maxi or Spectra S1 double breast pump) or hire (Medela Symphony breast pump). 

If you are expressing to increase milk production, or because your baby isn't yet feeding well at the breast, do it after of between feeds. Well-drained breasts will stimulate faster milk production. 

For more information on pumping, please see the article "Expressing/ increasing low milk supply."



Healthy balanced diet

Please don't over worry about super healthy balanced diet, but don't go for prolonged periods without food and feeling hungry. Try to snack on healthy food like nuts, oat bars, fruit, and vegetable, rather than biscuits, sweets, chocolates and crisps. 


There are certain foods and herbs which may help to increase your milk supply:


Vegetables:

Fennel

Carrot, beet, yam

Dark green leafy vegetable



Grains and legumes:

Oats

Millet

Barley

Rice

Chickpea

Mung beans

Lentils


Nuts:

Almonds

Cashews

Macadamia nuts

Eat raw, not roasted or salted



Healthy fats and oils:

Olive oil, flaxseed oil, sesame oil

Butter

Coconut oil

Eliminate hydrogenated vegetable oils


Spices:

Garlic

Ginger

Marjoram

Basil

Turmeric



Drinks:

Water

Commercial lactation teas

Non-alcoholic beer

Ginger Ale

Rivella

Herbal root-beers

Herbal tea infusions


Herbs:

Anise Seed (Pimpinella Anisum) 

Blessed Thistle (Cnicus Benedictus) 

Chaste Berry (Vitex Angus-Castus) 

Fennel Seed (Foeniculum Vulgare)

Fenugreek (Trigonella Foenum-Graecum). You can buy fenugreek capsules from a health food store. Take 2-3 capsules three times a day. 

Hops (Humulus Lupulus) 

Milk Thistle Seed (Silybum Marianum) 

Nettle Leaf (Urtica Urens) 



Indian recipe you might want to try:

 1 L of water

add

2 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds

2 tablespoons of fenugreek powder

2 tablespoons of ginger powder

2 tablespoons of dill seeds

2 teaspoons of jaggery (to make it sweet) or honey

Boil for 10 minutes.  Sieve and drink it throughout the day instead of water. Drink for six weeks every day.

 

Avoid large amounts of sage, peppermint, and parsley, which may decrease the flow of milk. 


Medications That Enhance Milk Production


Domperidone

Domperidone, although not FDA approved, is available through your GP.

Dr. Jack Newman, a breastfeeding expert from Canada, was among the first physicians to recognize the potential of using domperidone for milk production. He has provided medical information handouts about domperidone as a milk enhancing drug that mothers can take to their GP. Dr. Jack Newman's information can be found at:

https://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/informations/domperidone-getting-started/





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