Simple ways to boost your breast milk supply
Nearly every breastfeeding mum worries that she's not producing enough milk. Lactation expert Rowena Bennet explains what steps you can take to lift your supply today, if it is low.
Increase milk supply

When babies become unsettled, most mothers will jump to the conclusion that the baby is not getting enough milk, and that their breasts aren't producing enough. This often isn't the case, so before you start trying to increase your supply check out these common false alarms, and make sure you have determined whether your baby appears well nourished.

Nearly all mothers at some time worry whether they are producing enough milk. In most cases they are. Often it’s confusion over the cause of their baby’s unsettled behaviour that triggers doubt about their supply. Before taking steps to increase your milk supply, determine whether low supply is a genuine problem; see Signs baby is well nourished and Milk supply false alarms.

When low milk supply does occur, it can be for lots of different reasons, and it doesn't mean it's forever. When you do need to boost your supply, the first step is to think about the basic supply and demand idea behind milk production. The more frequently and thoroughly your empty your breasts, the more milk they will make to keep up with the demand. 

The following steps, when repeated frequently, can increase milk supply in a matter of days.

  1. Increase the number of breastfeeds. Offer your baby a breastfeed at least every two to three hours during the day, or sooner if he’s wanting to feed. Also try offering him a ‘top up’ 20 or 30 minutes after breastfeeds if he’s awake.
  2. Use breast compression to stimulate a let-down and encourage milk flow. 
  3. Offer both breasts at each feed. If your baby pulls off or settles into a comfort sucking pattern take him off and offer your other breast.
  4. A baby who is correctly attached well will stimulate milk production more effectively and will be able to get more milk than one who’s not, so check attachment.
  5. Try switch feeding by alternating back and forth between breasts multiple times during the same feed. This can encourage a sleepy baby to suck more vigorously for a longer time.
  6. If your baby isn't willing to feed, empty your breasts using a manual or electric pump.
  7. The early hours of the morning are the best hours for your milk-making hormone, prolactin. Increasing night feeds (try three-four hour intervals) can take advantage of this. 
  8. Domperidone and metoclopramide are medications used to treat nausea and vomiting but have a side effect of stimulating a rise in maternal prolactin levels. See your GP for advice regarding medications.
  9. Seek professional help: If after 72 hours you are not seeing any increase in milk production seek advice from a qualified lactation consultant.

increase your milk supply in just a few days

This article was written by Rowena Bennett and adapted for Kidspot, New Zealand's favourite parenting resource for Early Life Nutrition.
Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breast milk. Always consult your doctor, midwife or health care professional for advice about feeding your baby. This post is part of the Early Life Nutrition story.
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