I started searching for natural remedies to increase my milk supply when my daughter was a few weeks old. I exclusively pumped because she was in the NICU after she was born.
In some respects, it was nice to know exactly how much milk I produced because I was pumping. On the other hand, it was aggravating tracking the ounces I pumped every day.
I did not want to take any supplements while my daughter was in the NICU, so I researched natural ways to increase my milk supply.
So, what are natural ways to increase milk supply? The best natural remedies to increase milk supply are:
- Frequent nursing and pumping sessions
- Hand expression after pumping or nursing
- Lots of skin to skin time
- Eating enough calories
- Drinking lots of water
- Resting and reducing stress
- Oatmeal, omega 3s, veggies, and spices
Try out some of these methods to see what works for you and your baby. A natural remedy may be one of the first things to try to increase your milk supply, especially if you are hesitant about taking supplements.
Please note that this is not medical advice, and if you have a concern about your milk supply, it is best to discuss your concern with your doctor, pediatrician, and lactation consultant.
Frequent Nursing or Pumping Sessions To Naturally Increase Milk Supply
The most important way to increase milk supply naturally is to frequently nurse or pump. This is because removing milk from the breast signals to your body that you need to produce more milk.
Your body is constantly working to produce more milk. The number of times you should be nursing or pumping is between eight and twelve times per 24 hours.
If you are nursing, put your baby to the breast as often as possible to help stimulate your milk supply. You may also consider adding one or two extra pumping sessions during the day to help increase your milk supply.
If you are exclusively pumping, make sure that you are pumping between 10 and 12 times per day to increase your milk supply. You can also try pumping every 2 hours during the day. The more frequently milk is removed, the better.
If you add nursing or pumping sessions, do not expect to see an increase in milk supply right away. it may take a few days before you notice an increase in milk output.
Keep up the routine with the increased number of pumps over the course of 3 to 7 days to see the best results.
Use Power Pumping To Stimulate Milk Production
Power pumping is another natural way to increase milk supply. In order to power pump, start by pumping until your breasts are completely empty. This typically will take between 20 and 30 minutes.
After the first pumping session, wait 10 minutes. Next, pump for an additional 10 minutes. After the second pumping session wait another 10 minutes. finally, pump for 10 more minutes.
During this power pumping session, you will have spent between 40 and 50 minutes pumping. Some of these pumping sessions may not have produced much milk. It is alright if you were dry pumping during some of these pumping sessions.
The point of the power pumping session is to ensure that your breasts are completely drained of milk. After a few days of power pumping, you should gradually notice an increase in milk supply over the course of the day.
It may even take up to a week before you see results. Stay committed to the routine of power pumping and you should eventually see results.
Related: Power Pumping To Boost Milk Supply (& 3 Secret Tips)
Hand Express After Pumping Or Nursing To Increase Milk Supply
Another natural remedy is to hand express after pumping or feeding. Hand expression can help make sure that every last drop of milk has been removed from your breasts. Some women even respond better to hand expression then they do to an electric pump.
One of the moms I know was able to hand express an ounce from each breast after she was finished pumping. Another one of my friends preferred using a manual pump.
She responded better to the manual pump than she did to the double electric pump. She was able to pump more milk more quickly with the manual pump.
When hand expressing, use your flange like a funnel in a milk bottle. Then, direct the milk into the flange. Using the flange as a funnel will help to catch any extra milk that you are able to express. This milk can be refrigerated or frozen to feed later.
If you are looking to increase your milk supply, it may be worth it to try hand expressing or a manual pump. They may end up working well for you.
Use A Haakaa On One Side While Nursing Or Single Pumping
If you are nursing on one side, attach a haakaa pump to the other breast. If you are not nursing, try attaching your electric or manual pump on the left breast and attach a haakaa pump on the right breast.
A haakaa works by providing gentle suction on the breast. It will likely not be enough suction to stimulate a let down on its own, but it works well combined with nursing or pumping the other side. A haakaa will catch the milk from the breast that is not being nursed, so you do not lose that liquid gold.
This method works because when many women experience a let down on one side, they also let down on the other breast. It is possible that you may catch only half an ounce or an ounce of milk during each nursing session.
If you combine those small amounts of milk over the course of a day, you may end up with four or six ounces to store in the refrigerator or freezer. One of my friends used this method to build up a freezer stash before returning to work.
Drink More Water To Increase Milk Production
Staying hydrated is another way to increase milk production. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure you are drinking lots of water. What helped me to drink more water was to always carry a large water bottle around with me through the house and when we went out.
I said goals for myself to drink enough water. I would drink a glass of water as soon as I woke up in the morning, and I also drank a glass of water every time I pumped. One of my goals was to make sure I drink all the water in my water bottle before lunchtime. I would also refill the water bottle and drink the entire bottle again before dinner.
Another thing which helps is to set reminders on your phone to drink water. it also helps to avoid certain beverages that will make you dehydrated. Caffeine and alcohol are a couple of the drinks you may want to avoid while you are trying to boost your milk supply. This is because caffeine and alcohol are both the diuretics, and they can dehydrate you.
Drink Electrolytes To Boost Milk Supply
Beverages with electrolytes in them may also help you stay hydrated. they can also provide a nice change if you are tired of drinking water. Some popular drinks with electrolytes are Gatorade, coconut water, Pedialyte, and Body Armor drinks.
Personally, I did not enjoy the taste of coconut water. What I would do to increase electrolytes is to mix a drink with half coconut water and half Gatorade. This was one of my favorite treats to drink during my afternoon pumping session.
Spend Lots Of Time On Skin To Skin And Kangaroo Care To Increase Milk Production
Skin to skin contact also helps boost milk production hormones. When we were in the NICU, the nurses suggested that we do kangaroo care as much as possible. This was beneficial for our baby as well as for my milk supply.
In order to spend time skin to skin, start by undressing your baby down to their diaper. Next, wear a robe or a shirt that easily unbuttons in the front. Hold your baby against your bare chest, and cover him or her with a blanket to keep them warm. I loved letting my sweet little baby take a nap like this on my chest. I would listen to some relaxing music or a podcast with my headphones while she took a nap.
Take Naps And Rest To Produce More Milk
One of the most enjoyable ways to increase milk production is to take naps and rest as much as possible. If you have friends or family nearby, invite them over to watch your baby while you take a nap for a few hours.
It is okay to put off cleaning the house, or asking family members to help with cleaning so you can get some rest. As a new mama, your most important jobs are taking care of your infant and making milk for the baby. Everything else can wait.
Relax and Reduce Stress
Reducing stress and relaxing as much as possible will also help with your milk production. Some great ways to reduce stress are by taking a long bath or lighting a candle in your favorite scent.
Another way to reduce stress is to do some light exercise if you have been cleared by your doctor. Going on a walk around the neighborhood and getting some fresh air and sunlight can do wonders for your mind and body.
Eat Enough Calories To Increase Milk Production
Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories. You will need to make up for those calories by eating enough to produce breast milk. I was shocked at how hungry I was when I was breastfeeding. I never had huge cravings while I was pregnant, but it was almost like I was never satisfied when I was breastfeeding.
A few friends have told me that they saw a huge boost in milk supply after eating Thanksgiving dinner. Another friend always saw an increase the day after she ate pizza.
Some women try to diet immediately after giving birth, and that can impact milk supply. If you have been trying to cut calories and lose weight, you may need to add some back in. Try it out and see if it helps with your milk supply.
Foods To Increase Milk Supply Naturally
There are several foods that have been known to increase milk supply naturally. Some of the most popular foods to increase milk supply are:
- Oatmeal and whole grains
- Nuts (especially almonds)
- Foods with omega three fatty acids
- Veggies such as spinach, carrots, and asparagus
Eat Oatmeal As A Natural Remedy To Increase Milk Supply
Oatmeal is one of the most popular natural remedies to increase milk supply. Steel cut oats worked better for me than instant oats. I would make a large batch of steel cut oatmeal on Sundays, and then eat a bowl of oatmeal in the morning every day.
Other ways to add oatmeal to your diet are with lactation cookies, energy bites, and lactation smoothies. After I got tired of eating oatmeal every day, I would alternate days where I would have a lactation smoothie in the morning, and a bowl of oatmeal the following day.
Other whole grains can also work to increase milk supply. Some of my favorite whole grains are brown rice, quinoa, and barley. Try them out and see if they help you produce more milk.
Eat Nuts, Especially Almonds and Almond Milk To Boost Milk Production
Nuts are also a great way to boost milk production. Almonds are a delicious snack to have on hand if you need a quick boost of energy. You can also try adding some almond butter on a piece of toast or adding almond milk to a lactation smoothie. I would also add some slivered almonds on top of my oatmeal to give it a little bit of an extra crunch.
Eat Omega 3s As A Natural Remedy To Increase Milk Supply
Foods with omega 3s may also help milk supply. Flaxseed is a common ingredient in many lactation cookie recipes. Ground flaxseed is easy to sprinkle on top of a bowl of oatmeal. I’ve also added flaxseed into a smoothie. One of my favorite energy bite recipes also includes ground flaxseed.
Salmon is another great source of Omega-3s. Try eating salmon once or twice a week and you may see a boost in milk supply. Wild caught salmon typically has more omega-3 than farm-raised salmon. So when you are at the store look for a sign that says it was wild caught.
Eat Lots of Veggies To Increase Milk Supply (Especially Asparagus, Spinach, and Carrots)
Some of the veggies I found that helps with my milk supply were asparagus, spinach, and carrots. I love roasting asparagus in the oven and eating it for dinner with salmon. I would also try to eat a salad with spinach and grated carrots every day.
I added more spinach to my diet by throwing some spinach leaves into a smoothie. I would also eat more carrots by having them as a snack with hummus as a dip. another easy way I found to get more veggies in my diet was to make a large pot of vegetable soup. I would eat that as an appetizer before dinner.
Eat Garlic To Boost Milk Supply
Garlic is delicious and it helps some women to produce more milk. I love garlic in Italian dishes, and in Greek tzatziki dip. I would also toss some broccoli or asparagus with olive oil and garlic before roasting it in the oven.
Eat Spices Such As Fennel Seeds And Cumin
Some spices have also worked for some moms to increase their milk supply. The most well-known spices to help with milk supply are fennel seeds and cumin. Both of these spices are delicious on fish or chicken. Fennel is also found in a few different Italian foods such as Italian bread and Italian sausage.
Supplementing With Pumped Milk Or Formula
It is alright to consider supplementing with formula or pumped breast milk. The most important thing is to ensure your baby is fed and content.
There are lots of women who have switched from nursing to pumping if they felt it was right for themselves and their babies. After the switch, they felt relieved because they knew exactly how many ounces their baby was drinking during each feed. A combination of nursing and pumping is another option that some mother choose.
When I nursed in the hospital, the lactation consultant worked with me on weighted feeds. This was where my baby was weighed before and after nursing to measure how much milk she took in.
A lactation consultant at a breastfeeding support group near me also did weighted feeds after we left the hospital. It may be an option to discuss with your lactation consultant if you are concerned about your milk supply.
It is also common for mothers to think they have a supply problem when they do not have one. Be sure to discuss any concerns with a lactation consultant and your doctor or pediatrician.
These natural remedies are a great way to boost your milk supply. If you are looking for more ways to build up your milk supply, you can also check out this article on pumping to increase milk supply.
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