How to Increase Breast Milk Supply

Breastfeeding can be difficult for a number of different reasons: babies not latching, clogged ducts, bleeding nipples, inverted nipples, baby tongue ties, and the sheer pain of it at first, to name a few. What was the biggest struggle for you breastfeeding?

The biggest struggle I had was my milk supply. Milk came in, but I am serious when I say I was barely producing an ounce of milk, which was not even close to what I needed to continue to feed my baby. 

It was frustrating because my tiny, can’t-even-fill-out-an-A-cup boobs had always been good for nothing and now when they could have their time to shine, they were still good for nothing. Pinterest had photo after photo of women’s stockpiles of milk storage bags complaining that they didn’t have any room left to store them. Wow. Good for you! I started back at work shortly after I had my baby and pumping was miserable so I unfortunately just gave up without trying to do my research. Here are some reasons why my supply could have been next to nothing:

Using a Bottle/Formula

My baby had jaundice (like most babies when they're born) and because of her bilirubin levels, she didn't need light therapy, but they did suggest using formula. Since we started using formula right off the bat, my breasts were not receiving the signal to produce as much milk as my baby actually needed. I also didn't have a pump quite yet, so maybe if I had been pumping as much as my baby was feeding that could have helped. Using a bottle so early could also cause nipple confusion, which could lead to improper latching/wanting the quicker flow of the bottle. 


Every mom is completely exhausted after having their baby and taking care of a non-sleeping newborn all while their body is trying to heal. Apparently, though, this inevitable exhaustion can lead to a depleted breast milk supply. Go figure. 

I’m determined to do what I can to increase my milk supply this time around so I’ve been doing my research. This is what most breast feeding experts say can help increase your milk supply:

Nurse Your Baby Often

You should nurse your baby every two hours during the day (or on demand if they are needing more) and three to four hours at night. Many people argue whether you should wake up a sleeping baby, and if the thought of that makes your insides crawl, you should at least be pumping every three to four hours at night.

Nurse for at Least Fifteen Minutes

My baby always seemed to fall asleep during feedings. If this is happening and they haven't drained your breast, wake them up to finish their meal. Also, don't rush or limit your breastfeeding time. If your baby takes some time to get all of the milk, let them take their time. Your breasts need to know they should keep producing milk, and if they are left somewhat full, production can start to dwindle. 

Offer Both Breasts

Offering both breasts and switching back and forth between breasts has been shown to increase milk supply.

Pump Immediately After Feeding

Pumping immediately after feeding ensures that your breasts are being completely drained. Some mothers find that if they pump for five or so minutes and then take a break for ten minutes they will then start to pump even more milk after that ten minutes. It is all about sending that signal to your brain that you need LOTS of milk--supply and demand, you know. 

Skin-to-Skin for Twenty Minutes After Feeding

If you have had a baby before, you know that even being around other babies or hearing other babies cry can make your breast leak like crazy. Yay, postpartum hormones! Special skin-to-skin bonding with your own baby will help increase your milk producing hormones. 

Watch Your Diet 

Some foods that are known to help increase milk supply are spinach, salmon, garlic, brown rice, and oatmeal. There are also special shakes and teas that different companies make that have natural ingredients that are meant to increase your milk supply. Above all else though, you NEED TO BE HYDRATED!!!

Despite the disappointment that breastfeeding didn't work out for me, formula feeding was awesome! My husband was able to feed our baby in the middle of the night without me having to wake up. We could leave on date nights or for work for longer periods of time. And guess what? My baby was happy, healthy, and thriving even without my breastmilk!

They say breastmilk is best for a number of different reasons, but formula isn't bad. I was formula fed, and I would like to think I turned out just fine. My brain even developed pretty well--I can send you my standardized tests scores if you're skeptical.

So, if you are struggling with breastfeeding, consider these tips to help, but if it doesn't work out, don't beat yourself up over it. You are a wonderful mother with or without a milk supply.

For more information on breastfeeding, check out our post, Your Complete Guide to Breastfeeding!


Abby Love

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