Sometimes our bodies just don't cooperate. We need to give them a little bit of TLC to get them to do what we need them to.
And breastfeeding is no different.
Your body works hard to both feed and function all of its own cells and produce milk for your baby.
And if you aren't producing enough milk for your baby there are ways to increase this.
If you are wondering how to increase breast milk production, we've got ten tips right here.
1. How To Increase Breast Milk Production: Pump More Often Or Longer
Breast milk production is a supply and demand deal. If your body does not think there is much demand it won't produce milk for your baby.
Each nipple has around 15-20 openings and the baby pressing down with its mouth on the nipple causes suction on these openings.
And when the milk depletes completely, your body releases Prolactin to turn blood nutrients into more breast milk.
So, if you want to produce more milk for your baby, you have to pump all the milk out of your breasts each time. And you possibly have to pump more often. Nurse and pump anything left to empty the breasts.
2. Lose the Pacifier
Of course, a pacifier does not directly affect your milk production. But if you want to know how to increase breast milk production, don't place that fake nipple into your baby's mouth. You're losing out on the opportunity to stimulate milk production.
This is not true for all and we are not saying to eliminate the pacifier, but as an option, this could show beneficial results in increasing milk supply.
Even if the tank seems empty, the baby's mouth on your nipple will still stimulate the hormones that produce milk.
3. Eat Oatmeal
Yes, we understand. Oatmeal, if prepared wrong, can be a lackluster meal. But when you ask a lactation specialist how to increase breast milk production, they'll tell you that oatmeal is one of the great foods that increases milk supply. It is filling, healthy, has iron, and other nutrients to benefit this goal.
And you can either eat oatmeal bars, which usually have other delicious things like chocolate chips or fruit bits. You can make delicious lactation boosting blueberry oatmeal muffins. Or you can learn to fix an amazing bowl of organic steel cut oats with some healthy toppings like fresh fruit, a lil brown sugar, and honey drizzle. Milk boosting smoothies also make a delicious way to include oatmeal in them and other yummy fruits.
4. Cluster Pump
While this sounds like an expletive, it's a play on the term "cluster feeding."
Babies sometimes go into an unusual feeding mode where they eat on and off for a few hours.
This is called cluster feeding, and it can be very inconvenient for the mother.
But your breasts do respond to cluster feeding. It seems to be inbuilt.
So, mimic this action by cluster pumping, that's how to increase breast milk production.
Pump ten minutes on and ten minutes off. Do this for about an hour. You can do other things like watch tv, or read a book while doing this.
While this is a commitment to do so, try it for a few weeks if possible and see if you like the results.
5. Get the Right Bra
Instead of using an underwire bra or something restrictive, look for bras that allow you to feed more easily. Also, take advantage of nursing tank tops or nursing hoodies that allow quick and easy nursing in public. There are quite stylish options that do not look like nursing tops from Bun Maternity.
Not only will this allow your breasts to be more healthy, it will make it less difficult to breastfeed on the fly. Nursing on demand is part of your success in keeping that milk supply and it's important to feel comfortable and confident (instead of feeling confined to only breastfeed in the house). If you can breastfeed on the fly no matter where you happen to be, you will breastfeed more often. And if you breastfeed more often, you will stimulate milk production.
6. Avoid Hormonal Birth Control
Hormones are what help the body to produce milk. And if you mess with the hormones in your body, you might affect milk production.
So, you're wanting to know how to increase breast milk production if you need birth control. Consider other birth control options. Breastfeeding also happens to be a great birth control.
IUDs and condoms are great choices if you are nursing. But make sure you go consult your doctor. This is a subject you should discuss with them.
7. Go On a Nursing Vacation
If you want to know how to increase breast milk production, relax.
If you can afford it, get away from the stressful environment of your house. Go find a hotel, outdoorsy locale, or secluded spa type environment to be away with your baby to increase your breastfeeding rhythm. There are many places to go with your newborn, and if you have that nursing clothing you will feel great nursing in public.
And even if you can't afford to get away, set aside time and space for just you and your little one. If you have other children, have someone watch them for a few hours while you spend time with just your baby.
Sometimes stress can block the precious hormones that help you produce the milk you need. And getting away from that stress will be good for both you and your baby.
8. Switch It Up on the Baby
If you're only milking on one side, that's not how to increase breast milk production.
If your baby loses interest or starts comfort sucking, that's not a sign to stop. It's just a sign you need to switch breasts.
If you want to know how to increase breast milk production, switch it up. Feed from the other side. You baby will get more nutrients this way. And your body will start producing more milk.
9. Make Sure the Latch Is Good
Your baby won't be able to get all the milk she needs if she isn't latching on to your nipple properly. Learn some basic breastfeeding positions to get your proper latch going.
We've talked about how to increase milk production through complete depletion of breast milk. But you won't deplete your milk if your baby isn't getting that milk.
So, if your baby doesn't have her tongue out over her gums and her lips aren't flared open, she might not have good latch.
If she isn't opening her mouth wide enough, tickle her mouth with your nipple until she opens wider and then push the nipple in. It needs to be up to your areola for it to seal properly.
10. Prescription Drugs to increase Lactation
Of course, you need to consult your doctor if you want to know how to increase breast milk production through drugs.
But as a last resort, if all the above do not work, there are medications that have the side effect of increasing lactation.
Domperidone and Reglan are an example of prescription medications that are off label for lactation.
These drugs do not work for everyone and also are known to cause depression in some people. If you are already showing signs of postpartum depression this probably is not a good route for you. There are other numerous possible side effects, so as a last resort, over think this one before you go into it.
Consult your doctor if this the route you feel you need to take. There are many more tips your doc may suggest to try before considering this.
If none of these things work, go see a lactation specialist and keep trying. We even suggest finding a center that has IBCLC's to help support you and offer information as there can never be enough knowledge and helpfulness to go around.
There are more things you can do. Things like changes in diet and sleep patterns. Babywearing allows more breastfeeding as well.
But the important thing is taking care of you.
If you're going out and about to breastfeed, check out our breastfeeding specific clothing.
If you are going back to work, make sure to check out our tips on breastfeeding moms going back to work.