Increasing milk production

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MissyJ's picture
Joined: 01/31/02
Posts: 3280
Increasing milk production

Answer Box: With my first I had trouble with milk production (or so my pediatrician said.) We ended up with formula because I felt threatened by the 'failure to thrive' diagnosis. Now I'm pregnant again due in July and wonder if there is something I could take (safe for baby) or do to help me make more? I feel like I gave up too quickly before. Open to all suggestions.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4104

There are very few women who truly make too little milk for their baby. The best thing you can do to make more milk is to nurse more, and the most common problems with supposedly low production are not feeding baby often enough and long enough, and not keeping baby close to you at all times. Nurse baby on demand, or at least every two hours if baby isn't very demanding (and that's from start of one feed to start of the next, not from the end of one feed to the start of the next.) Nurse for at least 10 minutes on each side. If baby starts to fall asleep, tickle her feet, talk to her, undress her so she's a bit more chilly, anything to keep her sucking longer. Get a good-quality double electric pump (I love the Ameda Purely Yours) and pump in between feeds when she starts sleeping more than a couple of hours. Try pumping one side while you nurse on the other; this not only gives you some backup supply in your freezer, but it also triggers more milk production. Wear your baby in a carrier as often as possible, rather than leaving her in a bassinet or car seat, because your body knowing that she's close will help stimulate milk production. Also make sure that you stay well-hydrated and well-nourished; your body is still supporting two people and that takes a lot of energy and fluids!

If you have any concern about how much she's getting, get a baby scale and weigh her before & after a few feeds to find out for sure. And if you do truly have a low supply, then there are some herbal teas that can help immensely. Blessed thistle, fenugreek, alfalfa, nettles, anise or fennel, and goat's rue are the most common, but read up on them first (or ask here) for dosage, warnings, etc. Another thing that works well is to do a bed-in. You & baby just stay in bed, naked or as close to it as you can get, for three straight days, just snuggle & nurse & rest & nothing else. You'll be amazed at what your body can do! Good luck to you this time!

Joined: 05/23/12
Posts: 692

I completely agree with Spacers. I've nursed all five of my babies and yes we struggled at time and yes we had times when we had to lay in bed and just nurse away. I'd struggle when I was near my period and ovulation, so really a lot of struggling. I took fenugreek, ground up in some tea as part of my daily routine, once or twice a day. It was very hard to stay with it, particularly with this last one because my other four are extremely active and I couldn't sit still long enough to feed the poor guy. So I did have to end up supplementing and nursing at night, and also when the smaller ones were asleep. However, the problems were my environment, not supply.

Again I wholeheartedly agree with Spacers.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4104

And even if you *are* one of the rare women who don't produce quite enough milk on your own, or if you can't take one of the supplements (one isn't good for diabetics, another isn't good for women with BP issues, etc.) breastfeeding is NOT an all or nothing kind of deal. You can breastfeed as much as you want to, or can, and offer formula afterward to fill baby up. You and your baby get all the great benefits of breastfeeding and your baby still gets the full nutrition he needs. It's a win-win.

Danifo's picture
Joined: 09/07/10
Posts: 1377

I found I had to eat enough and drink enough to maintain milk production.

When my daughter was in the NICU and I pumped for 6 weeks to have a supply for when she was able to start nursing, the lactation consultant suggested a daily log of when and how much I was pumping or when/how long I nursed for. She said that information would help her determine a true supply issue. If you pump every 2-3 hours for 5 days with no improvement (true problem) versus pumping 2 times a day with no nursing sessions.

I also agree with BF not being all or nothing. My first daughter I had to supplement for several weeks until we got the hang of nursing. I have several friends who nursed for a year that found they still had to give 1-2 bottles of formula a day.