There's nothing more frustrating than feeling like you're not providing enough milk for your baby. It is very common and you are not alone! Not to worry, there are ways to increase your breast milk supply! It’s also very common for your supply to ebb and flow throughout your breastfeeding journey. Below are some factors that can cause your supply to dip:
- Baby starts sleeping longer
- You start your period or ovulate
- You are away from baby for longer than usual
- Baby starts getting more bottles
- Baby is on a nursing strike
- You aren’t getting adequate calories or hydration
The good news is that our breast tissue has memory! So it’s very likely you can get your supply back to where it was, using a few highly effective techniques. Understanding how your breasts produce milk, will help you understand how you can increase your milk output.
The Bottom Line is…..
To MAKE more milk, you must REMOVE more milk!
I am going to show you three effective and scientifically proven ways to get more milk out, so that you can increase your milk supply. Start soon, as timing is critical. Once you’ve increased your production, breastfeeding becomes more relaxing. Try committing to these 3 techniques for one full week.
The three best ways to maximize your milk supply!
- Your baby
- Your hands
- Your breast pump
Milk production works on supply and demand. So the more your baby sucks correctly, the more milk you will produce. Knowing how to achieve a deep latch will allow your baby to most effectively transfer milk. You can watch this awesome video on how to achieve proper attachment. This can be tricky at first, because you and your baby are both new to this. But with time and practice, you both will become much more comfortable!
Correct breastfeeding positioning will also help you and your baby feel more relaxed-leading to a much better feed. If you are at all leaning toward your baby or your back is in pain…that is a good indication you could benefit from some positioning tweaks.
A few key positioning tips can make all the difference in the world! Proper positioning will help achieve a deep latch, which makes for more effective milk removal. It will also help you prevent nipple pain and back pain. Many mothers think they are helping their baby by leaning towards them and putting their breast into the baby's mouth - but in reality, this position makes it more difficult for the baby to latch properly. The most common tip I give to new mamas is to…
Lean Back and Bring baby TO your breast! Avoid leaning towards them.
Your baby will feel more secure if they are comfortable and positioned tummy to tummy as opposed to on their back.
Positioning is the most common thing that I fix as a Lactation Consultant - if you have this list handy from the beginning, you’ll set yourself up for success!
- Bring your pillow or Lolo Carrier up high, directly under breasts
- Remain in an upright position or lean back if seated - a good way to lean back is to put your legs up on an ottoman or table, your body will automatically lean back.
- Compress breast from below, in a U shape and sandwich it so that it aligns with the baby’s mouth
- When baby opens their mouth wide, bring them UP AND IN towards your breast
- Baby should be tummy to tummy with you, not on their backs
- Ear, Shoulder and Hip are in a line
Keep your Baby close
Not only does skin-to-skin improve bonding with your baby, but it can also help to increase your milk supply and successfully establish breastfeeding. Keeping babies skin-to-skin while breastfeeding has scientifically proven to improve breastfeeding rates.
We created the Lolo because we couldn’t find a carrier that had enough support to effectively feed your baby in during the fourth trimester, while getting the all important benefits of skin-to-skin.
Thanks to the Lolo, you finally have a way to increase your skin-to-skin contact while breastfeeding your baby in those critical and all-encompassing first few months - all while you have friends over, do the dishes, play with your toddler, or go to lunch with the girls!
2) (Hand) Express Yourself
Another way to increase your milk supply is through hand expression. This is a technique where you use your hands to manually express milk from your breasts. It can be done in addition to breastfeeding or pumping, or on its own. Hand Expression is an extremely useful skill for any breastfeeding mother. It can relieve engorgement, stimulate milk production, and provide milk for your baby if they are having trouble latching.
Express yourself, let’s do it!
- Before expressing, you can get in the shower or use a warm moist compress to help get milk flowing. The shower is a great place in general for hand expression!
- Massage and become comfortable with your breasts
- Make a C-shape with your hand, like you are holding a cup
- Place your C-shaped hand around the base of the areola
- Now, COMPRESS back to the chest, PRESS in and RELAX
- Keep trying until you find the sweet spot and get a little droplet of colostrum out
- Go back and forth about 10 times each, for a few minutes at a time
- How often should you do this? Pre-birth, once a day…post-birth, 6x a day.
- Hand expression is an extremely effective tool for relieving clogged milk ducts, and also for getting the last of your milk out after pumping in order to fully empty your breasts.
PRESS, COMPRESS, RELAX
An excellent video on hand expression can be found here
Instead of relying on the pump suction itself, massage while pumping!!
One study by Dr. Jane Morton found that mothers who used hands-on pumping got 40% more milk out.
Hands on Pumping is a technique where you use your hands to massage and help pump milk from your breasts. It can be done in addition to breastfeeding or pumping, or on its own.
- Gently massage before you put your pump on, you can also apply a warm compress (this will get milk flowing)
- Use pumping bra so you can pump both breasts at a time
- You will find your sweet spots as you go
- Back and forth from each breast, several times
- When milk stops spraying, remove pump and hand express
- Hand expression after can remove even more of that rich fatty milk…which sends a super powerful signal to your breasts to produce more milk
Proper nutrition and hydration also can help increase your milk supply. Make sure you are consuming enough calories and proper protein intake.
Finally, consult with a lactation consultant. They can help you determine if there are any underlying issues that might be causing low milk supply, and provide one on one advice on how to increase it. This way you can get a specific evaluation for you and your baby.
Breastfeeding resources are improving, and many insurance plans now fully cover visits. Lactation Network is an incredible organization that helps moms and moms-to-be get the breastfeeding support they deserve. They check your insurance coverage, and then pair you with an expert lactation consultant, also known as an IBCLC.
Hang in there, mama - you've got this!