Breastfeeding Basics: How can I increase my milk supply?

Mother holding newborn feet in her hand while breastfeeding discreetly

When you first get your baby home from the hospital, they won’t do very much. Mostly, newborns eat, sleep, and fill diapers. And they are very good at those things, which is why parents can get a little worried if they think their baby isn’t getting enough to eat.

Concerns about milk production and whether it is sufficient for a growing baby’s needs is one of the most common concerns among new parents. Fortunately, there’s usually nothing to worry about and it’s likely your baby is getting everything they need. If you are concerned about when your breast milk supply will regulate, our lactation consultants are ready and waiting to answer all of your questions. In the meantime, here are a few things to note and a few things to try at home.

How do I know if my milk supply is fine?

There are a number of common experiences which can lead new parents to worry about milk flow when nursing. One of the most common is unexpected breast feelings. Having breasts that feel too full or not full enough could trigger worries about milk production. The truth is the feeling of your breasts will fluctuate over time as your body finds its balance and may not be a good indication of milk production. This is a part of the process of establishing milk supply and understanding when does breast milk regulate.

Some parents also worry if they see low milk flow during manual expression or pumping. This, too, can be misleading. Babies are better at getting milk out than pumps are; just because the pump isn’t doing a good job doesn’t mean baby is going hungry. You may also find that you feed, then a few minutes later your baby is hungry again. Sometimes, babies want to feed several times over a short period; this is called cluster feeding and is normal, particularly during growth spurts.

The best rule of thumb is your baby’s behavior. If your baby seems satisfied, is filling diapers, and is growing, you probably don’t need to worry about milk production. Signs of established milk supply include consistent diaper filling and baby’s growth.

How can I boost my breast milk supply at home?

While insufficient milk production isn’t a common problem, it does happen. If you find that you’re not producing as much milk as you’d like, or if you’re wondering how to keep up with breast milk supply or how to keep my milk supply up, there are a few tips, tricks, and lifestyle changes you can try.

  • Nurse and pump regularly – your body adjusts milk production based on your behavior. If you feed or pump infrequently, your body may close up shop.
  • If your baby is hungry, default to breastfeeding instead of a bottle when possible. If baby isn’t hungry but it’s time to feed, pump or express manually to keep the milk flowing.
  • Aim for between 8 and 12 feedings per day, or roughly once every 2 to 3 hours
  • Make sure to switch sides, offering each breast for at least 15 minutes
  • Gently massage breasts before and during feeding; this can help express milk and enhance production
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol; both are natural diuretics and can cause dehydration, impacting milk production and flow
  • Some medications, including some birth controls, can impact milk production. Ask your doctor about any medications you’re taking.
  • Take care of yourself! It can be easy to fall into a caregiver role when babies are little and forget to take care of ourselves. Your body produces milk, and it needs good food, water, and rest to do that.
  • Schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant early

Here at Families First Pediatrics, we staff each of our offices with an on-duty lactation consultant. They are trained and ready to talk through your worries, answer any questions, and help you navigate your baby’s mealtime, especially when it comes to concerns like when does your milk supply regulate or when is milk supply established.

Natural doesn’t mean it “comes naturally.”

Struggling with breastfeeding?

Overcome common nursing challenges and make feeding time rewarding for you and your baby by meeting with one of our friendly, experienced, IBCLC-certified lactation consultants.

Nicki Cluff, RN, BSN, IBCLC

Nicki Cluff, RN, BSN, IBCLC

Nicki is a lactation consultant in our South Jordan office.

a happy father receives a kiss from his son

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