Ask the Experts: Boosting milk supply

I’m worried I’m not producing enough milk. What can I do to boost my supply?

A: Concern about your milk supply is normal. In fact, research shows most moms doubt their milk-making capabilities at some point. There is even a medical term for it: Perceived Insufficient Milk (PIM). If breastfeeding has been going well and your baby is gaining weight, your milk supply is probably fine. If you do need to boost your supply, there are many effective strategies that can help you do so …

  • Breastfeed as often as possible. Lactation works on supply and demand, so each time you breastfeed, your body gets the message to make more milk. Aim to nurse every two hours during the day and every three hours at night.
  • Reduce or eliminate pacifier use. If your baby is fussy, offer the breast.
  • Offer both breasts each time you feed. Let your baby finish the first side, then offer the other.
  • Use breast compression when you pump and nurse. Make a “C” with your hand, and squeeze your breast. Press on the top, bottom and each side to completely empty your breasts. (Bonus: This is a great way to up the ounces in your freezer stash.
  • Take care of yourself. Drink plenty of fluids, and try to rest when your baby is napping.
  • Avoid oral contraceptives. Even the “mini-pill” can interfere with milk production.
  • Take a high quality galactagogue. Many breastfeeding mothers experience an increase in milk supply when taking a galactagogue (an herbal supplement), like fenugreek, blessed thistle or alfalfa.

As your baby grows, your breasts get better at producing the right amount of milk; they won’t feel as full and may not leak as much. These are normal changes, but they can cause you to question if your body can keep up with your baby’s growing appetite. If you have any doubts, talk to a lactation consultant or your pediatrician.

—Helen Anderson, MSN, BSN, RN, CLE, founder of Milkies and chief lactation officer at Fairhaven Health



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