Breastfeeding: Increasing the Milk Supply

When people ask me about things I tried in order to increase my milk supply,  to be honest.. the two things that I believed to be the biggest factors in my production: consistent, regular pumping schedule… and WATER. Oh. and I also massaged the hell out of my boobs while pumping (This study said it helps express 48% more milk than using the pump alone).

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My strategy from the beginning once baby arrives was to pump every 3 hours the first couple of weeks to get it going. And every time I sit down to pump (or breastfeed)…. then I chug 8oz of water. I literally had a case of water next to my “pumping station” and forced myself to chug half a bottle every time. As the baby started to eat in longer stretches of time in between then I would pump less… but I was basically pumping the same number of times the baby feeds (See Sample Feeding Schedule and Pumping the Boob posts). Mind you, I only pumped for 5 months, so once I got down to a comfortable 4 pumps a day, then I was pretty happy with that… and at my peak, I was pushing out about 46oz a day (with baby drinking 25oz – the rest went into frozen stash).

I tried the oatmeal and Mother’s Milk Tea with my first child, but I honestly don’t know if it was a large contributing factor or if it was just the combination of everything I was doing. Like it said, it doesn’t hurt to add it to your routine right? I didn’t do either of those two with my second child though, and still produced just as much, just based on my regular pumping and water. Of course getting some adequate rest (which I know can be hard to do with a newborn) and a good diet, are also contributing factors.

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My initial suggestion to increase the milk supply, would be if baby is on the boob – then to try and pump a little bit afterwards to clean it all out. Or, if you are exclusively pumping, then to try to squeeze in an extra pumping session in the day for a week or so to get it back up.  If the first feed after the baby sleeps X amount of hours “overnight” is on the boob – then definitely pump after that one… because the first feed of the day is usually the most production (after a nights rest, etc) so make sure you empty the boob first thing in the morning! Alongside that, chug the water each time, and massage the boob real good during pumps. I don’t think it would hurt to eat more oatmeal for breakfast and try the mother’s milk tea. But breastmilk is supposed to be based on supply and demand…. So make sure you DEMAND it! 🙂

Now for the neurotic who wants more resources, here are some extra reads for you: Understand how milk production works, herbal remedies such as Fenugreek, and a list of 35 ways to boost milk supply.

More on massaging while on the pump: Video Demonstration from Standford University and “Hands on Pumping

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