There are several points along your breastfeeding journey where you may wonder how to increase your milk supply. If you search the Internet, you will likely find dozens of suggestions for things like lactation cookies, mother’s milk teas, and special supplements designed to increase milk supply. Unfortunately, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. There is not enough evidence to justify using any of these things, and sometimes they may actually be harmful and pose interactions with medications or medical conditions. Getting your body to produce more milk always goes back to one hard and fast, evidence-proven rule: supply and demand. The more you breastfeed or pump, the more milk your body will make. Lindsey Janeiro, Registered Dietitian and Certified Lactation Counselor of Nutrition to Fit, shares 9 proven strategies for increasing your milk supply.
1. Latch baby to breast more frequently. Your body will respond easier and faster to your baby latching to your breast. Especially if you’re waiting for your milk supply to come in, focus on your infant’s hunger cues and put the baby to your breast as often as you can.
2. Avoid using pacifiers and bottles until your baby’s latch and your milk supply are well-established. In the same thread as latching baby to your breast more frequently, if you’re focused on increasing your milk supply, keep your baby focused on just the breast. Introducing pacifiers and bottles too early can create inconsistencies with your baby’s latch, which can affect your milk production. Sucking on a pacifier can also interfere with the infant’s hunger signals, which may cause parents to miss hunger cues and also disturb milk production.
3. Try taking a nursing vacation. Many moms like to take a “nursing vacation” to stimulate their milk production. Take a couple days and settle into a comfortable place in your home with you and your baby. Relax, rest, enjoy your baby, and focus solely on breastfeeding often!
4. Hand express prior to pumping. Pumping moms know that pumping is an entirely different game! Many women’s bodies just don’t respond the same to the pump as they do to their infant, so hand-expressing prior to pumping can stimulate a faster let down and a more efficient and productive pumping session.
5. Practice “power pumping”. This is a very effective trick to increase your milk supply. To power pump, you need to pump for five minutes, pause, pump for five more minutes, pause again, and pump another five minutes. This can really convince your body that there are high demands for your breast milk and that it needs to keep up with milk production.
6. Collect milk by pumping on one breast while nursing on the other. Many moms find pumping on one breast while nursing their baby on the other to be a smart strategy, as the breast they’re pumping will tend to have a faster letdown and flow a little faster while the infant is latched to the other side.
7. Experiment with guided imagery. Admittedly, this can sound a little hokey, but guided imagery is actually a research-proven technique to increase milk supply. It all goes back to the power of the mind. Moms who visualized themselves with an “ocean of milk” supply, or with milk flowing freely like a river or fountain (or any kind of plentiful supply visualization!) were actually able to consistently pump more than moms who weren’t practicing guided imagery.
8. Check your pump’s flange size. Did you know that the flange that comes with the pump isn’t one size fits all? Check the website of your pump manufacturer to find their guide on flange sizes and nipple sizes. This is actually super important because if the flange is too small it can damage the nipple and surrounding tissue, negatively affecting the supply. If the flange is too big, it won’t be as effective, and you may have trouble removing milk no matter what your supply is like.
9. Touch base with a lactation specialist for ongoing support. Most women think about getting help from a lactation specialist when their baby is first born and they’re working on establishing breastfeeding. Don’t forget to consult a lactation specialist throughout your journey, as bumps happen on the road. Lactation consultants can be a wealth of support and knowledge when your baby starts solids and is naturally at the breast less, or when you’re going back to work and in need of pumping and breastfeeding strategies that will work for you. Lactation consultants can even be a resource when your baby is older and you’re ready to start weaning in a gentle manner. Look for local breastfeeding support groups, visit ALPP.org to find a local CLC/ ANLC/ ALC in your area, reach out to your local La Leche League International, and check ilca.org to find a local IBCLC.
Lindsey Janeiro, RDN, LDN, CLC received a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of North Florida. After completing a dietetic internship at Utah State University, she is now a practicing Registered Dietitian specializing in prenatal, postnatal, infant, and child nutrition. She is also a Certified Lactation Counselor and loves supporting women in their breastfeeding journeys. Lindsey founded and operates Nutrition to Fit, a website dedicated to supporting and empowering busy moms to nourish their families, confidently. Lindsey also works in nutrition communications and as a nutrition specialist partnering with various brands. Follow @nutritiontofit for deliciously simple recipes and tips for the whole family.