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Comprehensive Guide to Increasing Breast Milk Supply

Your body makes milk on a supply and demand basis. Although we don't need ounce markers on the side of our breasts to know the baby is getting enough, we tend to fret over milk supply.   Here is a comprehensive guide to ease your worries and address your concerns.

Is my baby getting enough?
When your baby is first born, his wet diapers should increase daily. On day one, he should have at least one, day two, he should have two, up until day six. After six days of age, they have six to eight pale wet diapers daily and three to four "cottage cheese and mustard" stools. Other ways we can tell the baby is getting enough milk is that he makes quiet swallowing sounds at the breast. The breast feel full before the feeding and softer afterward. The baby seems satisfied after twenty minutes of swallowing. Babies may loose 7-10% of their birth weight, but begin regaining at day 6 and gain 5-7 ounces per week on the average until 6 months of age. The stools can change at 4-6 weeks of age. Only if your baby is not gaining well, invest in a baby scale that you can use to monitor breast milk intake and growth. You will want a scale that shows 1/2 oz increments or greater.

Do I need to drink more water?
Water does not make milk, but make sure you are drinking to thirst. If you are dehydrated your body does not function optimally.  
Can I increase my milk supply with supplements?
If you want a boost increasing milk supply, there are several galactagogues on the market. Fenugreek is safe and effective and can be found in most areas. Make sure you are talking a quality brand like Nature's Herbs or Natures way in an appropriate quantity.  You should take 600-626 mg capsules that only contain Fenugreek.  This normally increases milk supply in about 48 hours.  If you are an average size mom, you should take three capsules, three times daily so 9 per day.  Plus size moms can take up to 5  600-626 mg capsules per dosage for a total of 15 per day.  Make sure you are not getting loose stools and check milk supply after 3 days by nursing the first session in the morning and then double pumping with a good quality double pump like the Hygeia EnJoye LBI, Spectra S2, or the Ameda Finesse Breast Pump for 15 minutes. 

How much is enough?
You should be yielding 2.5 oz per lb of baby's body weight per day.  To calculate if you are making the appropriate amount take your baby's weight for example 8 lb multiply by 2.5 which in this case would equal 20 oz per day.  Then divide by 8 times per day for a baby under 6 months.  This means from both breasts you should be making 2.5 oz for an 8 lb baby.  Here is a link to a page where you will find to an easy to read milk intake feeding supply chart.

Can my baby help increase my milk supply?
Yes!  If your infant will suckle at the breast, this is a highly effective way of increasing milk supply.  Offer the breast every 2 hours with a longer stretch at night for a minimum of 12 feedings per day.  If the infant will suckle for at least 20 minutes each time, your milk supply should increase by day 6.  Remember, breast milk adheres to the supply and demand rule, so the more you demand, the better the supply.

Can I increase my milk supply with a breast pump?
Yes!  If your baby will nurse frequently even if milk supply is low, use the baby; but if your baby will not latch or will not stay latched long enough for you to get adequate stimulation, by all means use a quality pump like the Hygeia EnJoye Cordless, Spectra S2, Ameda Finesse or the Ameda Platinum Breast Pump.  If your baby is under six months old, you should be pumping or nursing at least 8 times per day for 10-15 minutes of double pumping.
If you are already nursing eight times per day, use your breast pump to simulate a growth spurt.  Studies show that you need one hour of additional stimulation per day to increase milk supply.  Pump an additional 10-15 minutes three times per day for five days in a row to simulate a growth spurt and increase milk supply.  If you miss a day, start the process over. You can accomplish this by moving feedings and or pumping to every 2 hours instead of every three or pump.  Frequency is better than duration for increasing milk supply so don't cheat by making pumping times longer.  They need to be more often.

Are there other supplements that help with maintaining milk supply?
Motherlove More Milk Plus comes in a liquid filled capsule with just the right combination of galactagogues to increase milk supply in most mothers.  In addition, products from Motherlove offer specific instructions for dosage in relation to lactation.
There are several other supplements that I would recommend substituting for snacks. Instead of a cookie, grab a Milkmakers Lactation Cookie.  Moms do need an additional 500 calories per day to make milk.  Most of us get them instinctively, but if you are already over your calorie limit, a good mothers milk tea is a good option.  

Are there other tips for maintaining a healthy milk supply?
Busy moms can sometimes miss feeding and or pumping.  Don't just forget them, make up for missed pumping times at work when at home or put later in the day pumping closer together if you have a meeting.  If you are out for a short time and someone else is fed the baby before you could make it back, make sure to pump immediately upon return.  This helps milk supply as well as restocking your freezer.

Is my body capable of making enough milk?  
Insufficient milk supply syndrome is actually very rare.  A mother with a complete mastectomy on one breast can still nourish a baby just as a mother of twins can nourish two. Most milks supply issues are about mismanagement of stimulation of the breast and insufficient extraction of the milk, making your body think it doesn't need to make more.  
What other tips do you have for managing milk supply?

  • Nurse within the first 30 min to 1 hour after birth, delaying the bath for skin to skin contact.
  • Try to minimize engorgement and don't leave engorgement unresolved.  Nurse often, waking the baby every 2-3 hours.  Use warm compresses and a breast pump if the breasts are too hard for the baby to latch on.  The first day, the baby tends to sleep longer after the initial hour after birth, but continue to try and after that 6-10 hour period increase your efforts.
  • Don't miss feeding unless you are pumping.
  • Don't forget about growth spurts when you are working.  If you are away from your baby at the 3 week, 6 week, 3 month or 6 month time period, pump every 2 hours instead of every 3 for a total of 11-12 nursing or pumping sessions per day.
  • Delay solid foods until the baby had not only double his birth weight but is sitting alone unassisted.  Sitting without help (even from a Boppy) coincides with the loss of a tongue thrust reflex that indicates readiness for solids.
  • Feed solids only after breastmilk.  Breastmilk is still the main source of nutrition for at least the first year so do not fill the baby up on inferior food.  Nurse or give breastmilk first.  Besides, who wants green beans on your breast?

Here's to a healthy milk supply!

Fenugreek: One Remedy for Milk Production by Kathleen Huggins, RN, MS
Fenugreek: Overlooked but not Forgotten by Rima Jensen, MD

Updated:  2/19/19


  1. A really nice guide to Increasing Breast Milk Supply.!! Thanks for sharing


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