6 Ways to Increase Your Breastmilk Supply
You’ve probably seen or hear stories of mums will a full freezer of breastmilk storage bags and you may be wondering who can produce so much milk.
First things first: You don’t need a freezer stock of breastmilk to feed your baby, even if you’re planning to return to work full time. You only need enough expressed breastmilk to last for the next day, perhaps a couple days if you’ll be away for a weekend.
But we understand increasing milk supply is on the mind of a lot of breastfeeding mums — in fact, it’s one of our most frequently asked questions. Some mums just feel more secure with a little extra on hand.
So if you’re trying to increase your milk supply and build a stash for your squish, read on for a few tried-and-true tips.
Watch baby, not the clock
Sometimes called responsive or on-demand feeding, this means breastfeeding whenever baby shows signs of being hungry. This helps your body figure out how much milk your baby needs to produce, especially early on.
So watch your baby for early signs of hunger:
- Opening and closing mouth
- Turning head, rooting around
Whether this happens every 30 minutes or every couple hours, follow baby’s natural cues. Trying to get your baby on a strict feeding schedule too early could actually hurt your supply.
Who doesn’t love baby snuggles? Cuddling skin-to-skin has so many great benefits for baby, and it can help increase milk supply, too. Skin-to skin contact helps you release prolactin and stimulates oxytocin, two important hormones in making breastmilk. Undress your baby down to the nappy and hold him or her against your bare chest. A blanket can keep everyone warm and cosy.
Always check baby’s position to make sure his or her neck isn’t bent too far forward and that the nose and mouth remain uncovered.
Pump after feeding
While the best way to establish a strong supply is to breastfeed on demand from the start, after about 4-6 weeks, you can add pumping sessions to give your supply a little boost. Breastmilk production follows the rule of supply and demand: The more milk you release, the more you will produce. So upping the amount you remove from your breasts will tell your body that baby needs more to eat. This teaches your body to make more milk.
Adding a pumping session after breastfeeding can help boost supply. The best time to pump is 30 minutes to an hour after baby breastfeeds — and hopefully, when they’re content or sleeping!
Practice hands-on pumping
Nothing empties a breast better than a baby, but there are things you can do to pump more efficiently. Enter the art of massage!
Massaging before a pumping session will stimulate the milk ejection reflex. Continue to massage your breasts during pumping to keep the flow going. This also helps to increase your milk’s fat content, which supports baby’s brain and nervous system development. Milk may come out through your nipples but it’s actually produced way further back in the breast tissue, so massage or compression of that tissue may improve pumping results. Finally, using hand-expression after a pumping session can help you release even more milk.
Try power pumping
Familiar with “cluster feeding”? Power pumping is like that. By emptying your breasts a few times back-to-back, you trick your body into producing even more milk.
Find an hour to pump without interruptions, preferably in the morning when your supply is likely at its peak. Pump for 20 minutes, then rest for 10. Pump for another 10 minutes, rest again for 10. Finish with 10 minutes of pumping, then resume your normal pumping or feeding schedule for the day. You should start to see results after two or three days.
Note: Power pumping is best for mums with low milk supply, so check with a Lactation Consultant to see if it’s right for you. This short-term solution should fit into (rather than replace) your regular pumping routine.
Take care of yourself
We can all agree: Breastfeeding is pretty much a superpower. Your body is sustaining an entire other person (as if doing so during pregnancy wasn’t enough!) and burning extra calories each day. All the more reason to take care of yourself, especially through good nutrition. Make sure you’re eating enough food to provide those extra calories, and stay hydrated too. Listening to your body is a great start. For example, you may feel hungrier during a growth spurt when baby is eating more, causing your body to make more milk. And while drinking more water doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll produce more milk, dehydration can definitely reduce your supply.