How to Increase Milk Supply | Piece of Cake Parenting | Are you struggling to make enough milk for your baby? In my article, I teach you the steps I took to quadruple my milk supply and build a freezer stash of 100+ ounces. #breastfeeding #breastfeedingtips #breastmilk #breastfedbaby

How to Increase Milk Supply | Piece of Cake Parenting | Are you struggling to make enough milk for your baby? In my article, I teach you the steps I took to quadruple my milk supply and build a freezer stash of 100+ ounces. #breastfeeding #breastfeedingtips #breastmilk #breastfedbaby

If you follow me on Instagram or already saw my post about breastfeeding in the hospital, you know that we encountered a lot of challenges with breastfeeding. For months, Baby J refused to nurse. So I spent hours pumping every day and only pumped about half of what he needed. Because of this, I was constantly looking for ways to increase my milk supply.

If you’ve experienced this, you know that worrying about low milk supply is the worst! You desperately want to feed your baby that precious “liquid gold,” but no matter what, you just can’t make enough milk. 

I don’t want any mamas to have to worry about this! So I’m going to share the tips that I used! With these tips, I went from exclusively pumping (and getting only 8-12 ounces a day!) to successful breastfeeding AND a freezer stash of 100+ ounces!

1 – Drink tons of water!

2 – Visit a lactation consultant.

3 – Nurse and pump. And nurse THEN pump.

4 – Improve your pumping technique.

5 – Be hands on!

6 – Start power pumping.

7 – Go on a nursing vacation.

Sleepy baby drinking a bottle

 
Before we start…

I need to share 3 quick points with you.

“Low Supply” is actually fairly uncommon.

Moms are meant to breastfeed, and it’s actually pretty uncommon to have clinical low milk supply. If you’re like me, you spent the first few days nursing and pumping to only get a couple of drops of milk. 

That is perfect! Your baby only needs a few drops of colostrum during those early days. Don’t feel like you have low supply just because you don’t produce much milk in the first week or so. 

Likewise, pumping is not as efficient as a baby. If you are nursing and pumping, know that your baby probably gets more milk while nursing than you do while pumping. Just because you don’t pump much doesn’t mean that you have low supply.

Perseverance is super important!

It can be so tempting to give up when breastfeeding isn’t working. After all, it can be super hard, quite painful, and emotionally exhausting! When you are spending hours a day pumping and STILL not getting anything, it’s pretty tempting to throw in the towel. 

But because most women don’t truly have low supply, if you keep pushing and have perseverance, you can almost always become successful!

It is okay to supplement if you need to!

As women, we put so much pressure on ourselves to nurse successfully and we feel like failures if we can’t make it work. This means that we do everything imaginable and constantly stress about breastfeeding.
 

I definitely did this. And it was ruining my relationship with my newborn. Both of us got so frustrated every time we nursed and I hated it when he needed to eat. Because it was just too stressful and I felt like a failure. 

If you need to supplement and give a bottle for your own sanity, that is perfectly okay! And if you decide that nursing won’t work for you, that is okay too. At the end of the day, fed is best and your baby will be perfectly fine if you breastfeed, forumla feed, or both. 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, how do you increase milk supply when you’re struggling??

These are the seven tips that made a world of difference for me. For months I was exclusively pumping and only getting about 8-12 ounces a day, even though I pumped 12+ times each day! With these simple tips, I finally started breastfeeding successfully AND pumped an additional 100+ ounces to build my freezer stash. 

Keep reading to learn more about each of these tips and how to make them work for you!

Glass of water and sunglasses outside on sunny day.

1 – Drink tons of water.

Breast milk is 88% water, which means that every time you nurse or pump, you’re losing a lot of water. Likewise, as soon as you become dehydrated, your milk supply will drop. 

Although drinking water didn’t completely fix my problems, it made a HUGE difference. Anytime I drank less water, I’d go back to pumping absolutely nothing. 

My favorite part about this tip is that it’s so easy! You don’t have to spend money on special products or wait for 2-day shipping. Just fill up your water bottle and get started!

A few tips:

*Try to drink 1-2 glasses of water every time that you nurse or pump. I would fill my water bottle and make sure that I finished it by the time my next pumping session started.

*Make it enjoyable for you! Add ice, lemon, cucumber, or anything else that encourages you to drink more water. Use a fun water bottle or drink through a straw. These little additions can make it much easier for you.

*Try to drink about 12 glasses (96 ounces) a day for this to make the biggest difference and really help to increase your milk supply. 

2 – Visit a lactation consultant.

This second tip probably isn’t one that you expect, but honestly, it is the main reason we made it past our challenges. Lactation consultants rock!
 

They are trained to answer any breastfeeding question and help with any nursing challenge you face. I even asked general baby questions!⁣

Most hospitals and clinics now offer free lactation services to everyone. I think it’s highly worth going at least once a week, even if you have to drive a bit to get there. Because I definitely would have given up if I didn’t have their help. ⁣

A few tips:

*Ask the lactation consultant to check your baby’s latch. Your baby drinks much more efficiently with a good latch. This means she empties your breast better and stimulates more milk production.

*Ask about different techniques and holds. Then learn how to use them properly. Find a few different holds that work best for you and baby. Switching between a few positions every time you nurse helps your baby to empty the entire breast, which then tells your body to make more milk. 
 

*Check your baby’s transfer weight. Many moms are so worried about low supply and give up because they think their baby isn’t getting any food. This helps to know exactly how much milk your baby gets and see the progress you are making.

*Bring your breast pump! These can be tricky! Have your lactation consultant show you exactly how to use yours so you can pump as efficiently as possible. The better you pump, the better you can stimulate your body to make more milk. ⁣

Bags of breast milk after increasing milk supply.

3 – Nurse and pump. And nurse THEN pump.

Increasing your milk supply is all about increasing the supply and demand. The more often that you empty your breast, the more milk you will produce.
 

For the first part of this tip, nurse and pump at the same time. I LOVE my haakaa manual pump – it’s the easiest way to use a manual pump at the same time as you nurse. Get your baby latched on one side. Then hook up your favorite pump on the other side. You’ll stimulate both sides and catch any let down (which prevents even a single drop of wasted milk!).

For the second part of this tip, nurse, then pump about 15 minutes later. This will stimulate your let-down reflex and empty the breasts again. Remember, the more often that you empty the breasts, the faster they will refill. Which means, increased supply!

Also remember, if you ever give a bottle (of formula or pumped milk), make sure to pump! If you don’t, you tell your body that baby is full. This signals your body to decrease milk supply, and we certainly don’t want that!

4 – Improve your pumping technique.

While working to increase milk supply, you will probably spend a lot of time hooked up to your breast pump. And unfortunately, your pump never empties your breast as efficiently as your baby. But there are things you can do to pump as efficiently as possible.

A few tips:

*Make sure that you have the correct flange size. You will pump more milk and be much more comfortable with a good fit. Center your nipple in the breast shield. Your nipple should move freely without rubbing against the shield (too small). Also, none of your areola should be pulled into the shield (too big). Read here for more tips on finding the right size for you!  

*Get comfortable. Pumping should NOT be uncomfortable! Most people think that you will get more milk if you increase the suction. But this usually decreases the amount. This is because you only stimulate your let-down reflex when you feel comfortable. (And the more you stimulate this reflex, the more milk you’ll make!) Turn up the suction until you’re slightly uncomfortable. Then turn it down a little bit to get comforable and find the right setting.

*Switch between the let-down and expression modes. This makes a HUGE difference and my yield went up dramatically when I learned how to use these settings on my pump. Check out this article for incredible tips!

5 – Be hands on!

Adding a gentle massage and manual expression is a super easy and helpful way to increase milk supply. You can be more successful with both pumping AND nursing.

If you’re struggling to nurse, massage your breast to make things easier for your baby. Baby J was born a few weeks early and he was so tired. It was just too much work for him to nurse, and he preferred a bottle because it was so much easier. When I started to massage my breasts while nursing, he finally started to try nursing. This increased my milk supply a ton because he was so much better at nursing than the pump. 

Being hands on while you pump is also a great way to start increasing your milk supply. Get a great pumping bra to free up your hands. Then gently massage as you pump. After you pump, you can also get more milk by doing manual expression. This was so helpful for me! And I usually got another 15 ml just with manual expression!

Baby cuddling with his mom.

6 – Start Power Pumping

Power pumping is amazing. Once I started power pumping, I finally started to see a noticible increase in my milk supply. But I will warn you, this can be super exhausting and is very time consuming. However, it’s well worth it to finally stop battling with low supply. 
 

A few tips:

*You typically produce the most milk in the morning, so many people power pump after their first feeding. But you can also power pump as your last pump before bed.

*Power pump for an hour. 15 minutes on. 10 minutes off. 10 minutes on. 10 minutes off. 10 minutes on. This imitates cluster feeding and tells your body that baby is hungry and needs more milk.

*To really increase your milk supply, power pump right away in the morning or right before bed. But then continue to pump (for 15-20 minutes) EVERY two hours day and night for 3 days. I won’t lie, this is incredibly exhausting, but I more than tripled my milk supply in three days by doing this. Which meant Baby J finally got enough milk that he was willing to start nursing. 

7 – Go on a nursing vacation

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean going on a break from breastfeeding. Instead, relax from everything else and really focus on nursing and bonding with your baby.

If your baby is latching and trying to nurse, going on a nursing vacation for 3-4 days is the best way to quickly increase your supply. This allows your baby to eat every time he is slightly hungry. The more often you nurse, the faster your milk supply will increase.

A few tips:

*Prepare to nurse your baby a lot. I don’t love breastfeeding, so I often want to cover up as soon as Baby J is done eating. But during a nursing vacation, you want to let your baby nurse as long and as often as she wants.

*Plan a few relaxing activities to keep you busy. Books, movies, and Netflix binges are all perfect during a nursing vacation. 

*Recruit family and friends to help. Let them know what they can do to make this easier and more successful for you. 

Worrying about low supply is stressful, but with a lot of hard work, you can usually fix it. What did you do to help increase your milk supply?

Share your tips in the comments to help other mamas that are struggling!