You may notice that you have a lower milk supply at the end of the day, especially in the afternoon, evening, and at night.
Does it seem like your baby is hungry, or are you struggling to pump enough milk to have enough bottles ready for the next day?
I did some research and spoke with a lactation consultant to figure out why milk supply can be lower at night, in the afternoon, and evening.
So, how can you increase milk supply at the end of the day? Some techniques to increase milk supply at night are:
- Power pumping in the evening,
- Cluster pumping or cluster feeding,
- Increase hydration, and
- Increase calories.
Milk supply is lower in the afternoon and evening because prolactin levels naturally decrease throughout the day.
Techniques To Increase Milk Supply in the Afternoon and Evening
These 4 techniques are the best ways to increase milk supply as the day goes on. If you want to know how to produce more milk at night, then try one of these ideas like using a special haakaa or milk catcher to boost milk supply. You may want to try power pumping and cluster feeding in the evening to boost your breast milk supply.
Over time, increasing the amount of “demand” through pumping will help you to produce more milk at night.
Power Pumping In The Evening To Boost Milk Supply
One technique to increase milk supply in the evening is to try power pumping. Power pumping means that you pump several times over the course of an hour.
For example, you might start your power pumping session at 6 pm.
- From 6 pm until 6:20 pm, you pump as normal.
- Then, you rest from 6:20 pm until 6:30 pm.
- At 6:30 you pump for 10 minutes until 6:40 pm then you rest 10 more minutes.
- Finally, you pump a final 10 minutes from 6:40 pm until 6:50 pm.
The power pumping technique can be very effective at increasing your milk supply at the end of the day as well as your overall milk supply. This is because when your breast is drained frequently, it signals to your body that you need to produce more milk.
When you first start power pumping you may not notice an increase in milk supply on the first day. However, if you keep up with power pumping over the course of several days, then your milk supply will eventually increase.
Most people need to power pump for at least three days to see an increase in supply. Some people will need to power pump anywhere from five to seven days in order to see an increase in supply.
When I needed an extra boost for my milk supply, I would use these supplements that I found on Etsy. They had such great reviews and I loved that they did not contain any fenugreek.
Another thing that made power pumping more bearable was using a hands free pump like the Willow. You can check out the current deals on the Willow by clicking here.
You can also read more about if the Willow pump is worth it (pros and cons) in my article here.
Cluster Feeding (Or Cluster Pumping) In The Evening Can Increase Milk Supply
A second technique is to try is either cluster feeding or cluster pumping in the evening. Many babies will naturally want to cluster feed in the evenings. If you are nursing, then this is a good option to work on increasing your milk supply while you are with your baby in the evening.
If you are unable to nurse, then you can mimic the same pattern by cluster pumping in the evening.
- In order to start cluster pumping, first, start by pumping at your normal pump time.
- Next, rest for 30 minutes.
- Then pump again for 20 minutes.
- Alternate pumping and resting and repeat this until you have pumped three times.
So, for example, if you start cluster pumping at 6 pm, then follow this example:
- Do your first pump from 6 until 6:30 pm.
- You will rest from the pump from 6:30 pm until 7 pm.
- Then, you will pump again from 7 pm until 7:20 pm.
- Rest again from 7:20 pm until 7:50 pm.
- Finally, pump a third time from 7:50 pm until 8:10 pm.
Similar to when you are power pumping, you may not see an increase in milk supply on the very first day that you try cluster pumping.
You may need to try cluster pumping for at least three days, but sometimes you will need to cluster pump for anywhere from five to seven days in order to see results.
When I combined cluster pumping or power pumping with this massager, I had amazing results. It really helped to increase my milk supply. Because I love this product, I worked out a great deal with the company and you can use the coupon code LISA10 for 10% off.
Maintain Your Milk Supply By Staying Hydrated Throughout The Day
Another technique that can work to increase milk supply at the end of the day is to ensure that you stay hydrated throughout the day.
You need to make sure that you are drinking enough water because milk is mostly water. If you are not fully hydrated your body will not produce enough milk.
Some of the things I tried in order to stay hydrated were:
- To make sure that I had a water bottle with me at all times.
- I also found that it was easier for me to drink more water when I used a straw to drink.
- For some reason, I could drink more water in a shorter amount of time when I used a water bottle with a straw.
- Something else I tried to stay hydrated was to make sure that I had one or two electrolyte drinks during the day.
I switched up the electrolyte drinks I used so I had a variety of flavors during the day. Some of the drinks that worked for me were Gatorade, Body Armor, and Pedialyte.
I didn’t notice much of a difference between the different brands. Drinking one or two of these electrolyte drinks did help need to stay more hydrated. I chose whatever brand was on sale that week and had fewer sugar and calories.
You can read more about drinking Body Armor for Milk Supply in my article here.
Boost Milk Supply By Eating Enough Calories Throughout The Day
Your milk supply stay may stay more constant throughout the day when you eat enough calories during the day.
If you go most of the day and have only eaten a small amount, then as the day wears on you may produce a lot less milk.
Here are some ideas to make sure that you eat enough calories during the day:
- Plan out some snacks that you can quickly grab from the refrigerator.
- You may want some snacks that you can eat one-handed while taking care of your newborn.
- Even if you don’t have time to prepare a full meal, you can grab some turkey, a string cheese, and carrots and hummus from the refrigerator.
Eating a few snacks like this can help you make sure your calories stay up throughout the day.
Another idea is that you may want to make a batch of energy bites or lactation bars, and grab those from the refrigerator as a quick snack.
You can check out my recipe for blueberry oat lactation bars here. They are delicious and full of milk-boosting ingredients!
If you are looking for a snack that doesn’t require any baking, you may be surprised that Oreos work for some moms to increase milk supply. Read more in my article about Oreos and milk supply here!
Why Is Milk Supply Low At Night And The End Of The Day?
Milk supply is lower at the end of the day because of hormone levels. The hormone prolactin controls milk supply, and it naturally decreases throughout the day. Then overnight, prolactin reaches its peak, and levels rise again in the morning.
This is why several lactation consultants recommended that I pump at least one time between midnight and 5 am.
By pumping during the middle of the night, you can take advantage of an increase in prolactin levels to increase milk supply throughout the day.
How To Increase Milk Supply In The Evening
There are a few techniques you can use to increase your milk supply in the evening. One that I found the easiest was to use a haakaa while feeding in the evening. This will help you to produce more milk on the opposite side.
Here is a link to my favorite haakaa / milk catcher (on Amazon). It is really unique because you can put it in your bra and my baby did not kick it off like a normal haakaa.
Another technique is that you can single pump while you are feeding. When doing this, it is easiest if your baby is in the football hold.
Then, if you are wearing a great nursing and pumping bra, you can pump on the opposite side. Here is a link to the nursing and pumping bra that helped me the most.
Is It Normal To Produce Less Milk At Night?
Yes, it is normal to produce less milk at night. This is obvious if you are pumping, and may be alarming.
If you have enough milk throughout the course of the day, then you can take advantage of the excess milk in the morning. Balance it out with the lower amount of milk in the evening.
Potential Causes Of A Decrease In Milk Supply
Variations in milk supply during the day are normal, such as pumping more milk at 6 am and pumping less milk at 6 pm.
However, if you have noticed an overall decrease in milk supply, this can be attributed to a few different factors.
Hormone levels regulate somewhere between 8 to 12 weeks postpartum. If you’ve noticed the dip during this time frame it’s likely that your milk supply has regulated. Other reasons for a potential decrease in milk supply are:
- Dropped pumping or nursing sessions,
- If you are about to start your period,
- If your baby has started to sleep through the night, or
- If you have recently returned to work.
If you are interested in even more tips for learning how to increase your milk supply, you should check out the article I wrote on increasing milk supply naturally. I go in-depth on several more tips to increase milk supply without using any supplements in this post.
Does Lack Of Sleep Affect Milk Supply?
Yes, the amount of sleep you get can affect milk supply. your body will produce more milk when it is well rested. To keep a steady milk supply, try taking a nap so that you can catch up on sleep even if you are woken up during the night.
Does Skipping A Feed Affect Milk Supply?
Skipping one feed should not affect milk supply in a significant way. However, skipping feeds over the course of several days or skipping feeds on a regular basis will likely lead to a reduction in milk supply.
Must-Have Pumping Gear
Hear are a few of my favorite pumping items that made my life so much easier.
- This is the best pumping bra that is actually comfortable to wear all day long (the Sublime version). Use code LISA20 to save 20% off your purchase!
- Try the Chocolate Fudge flavor of this yummy milk-boosting protein powder.
- These are the best baby bottle labels that will not wash off or wear off. The pineapple design and the whale design are two of my favorites.
- My favorite pumping bag that is roomy enough for my pump, a laptop, a cooler, and a lunch bag. They have so many cute colors and prints but I really love the subtle “Deco” print. Use code LISA15 to save 15% for a limited time.
- This postpartum care box has a couple of my must-have items for the first few months after baby arrives. The tubes that help with engorgement provide so much relief.
- These custom baby name onesies I found on Etsy are so adorable I ended up buying them in two different colors. The shop even has a really cute matching mommy and me set.
- I used this tiny mini fridge (link to Amazon) near my pumping station at home so I didn’t have to trek to the kitchen after a middle of the night pumping session.
- If you enjoyed this article, you can help support this blog by buying me a coffee here. Your support is very much appreciated!
More Breastfeeding Tips
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- Do you need a yummy drink to increase milk supply? Check out these 3 milk-boosting lactation drink recipes! (Includes a Starbucks Pink Drink copycat recipe)
- Check out these 18 Natural Ways To Boost Milk Supply (without using any supplements)
- Learn more about a unique way to use your pump to increase milk supply.