10 tips to increase your milk supply

By | June 4, 2009

1. Pump at least 7 times a day.
Best would be if you can get somewhere around 9 pumps in the first days. In my case I had started out with 7 pumps and got just a little milk out. I then increased to 10 times for a few days and then cut back to 9 pumps for about two weeks. This seemed to make a big difference in my milk supply.

2. Make sure you have a good pump and all necessary accessories.
Check your horn size. Most women need larger shields so make sure your shield is the right size for you. A good site that provides you with all your pump accessories is pumpingpals.com. They also offer a nipple measuring tool that helps you decide whether or not you need to go for a larger horn. Also make sure that you have a good suction with your pump. Some pumps when utilized so much by exclusive pumping mothers tend to loose the suction they had at the beginning. To get your suction back you need to change the membranes. Buy additional membranes in advance. If you are not sure if your pump is loosing suction just test with the new membranes. You will probably need them anyhow so this is a good investment.

3. Before pumping apply heat to your breasts.
You can do this by using hot pads that you can put in the microwave or what I did was to wet a small towel and put it in the microwave for 20 seconds. It would then come out really nice and hot (like when you travel in the plane). I would apply that two or three times before starting and sometimes during the pump – my husband used to serve it to me wit a fork – that really helped me get out a few clogs. A hot shower before pumping helps too. However since you pump many times during a day it’s not realistic to really take a shower before each pump. Also what I didn’t like is that my milk started dripping out while in the shower and I preferred this to go into the bottle instead.

4. Massage your breasts.
Once you take your seat and are ready to put the horns on, massage your breasts. Massage them in a circular motion. This really helps stimulate the milk flow.

5. Drink lots and lots of water.
Your body needs the additional fluid to supply the milk.

6. Rest as much as you can.
I know this is easier said than done. Having a new baby at home is enough stress for any breastfeeding mom. Let alone pumping moms. The stress builds up even more if you have problems breastfeeding and are trying to understand why your baby just can’t latch on properly. What you should try next time your baby wants to feed etc…. During those first days I basically not only looked like a zombie, but was on a different planet. My husband no longer recognized me. I was trying to deal with my pumping sessions that were taking place right after my breastfeeding sessions, thinking non-stop about new things to try. Picturing my next latch on moves, thinking about a possible future without breastfeeding and stressing over it all. I didn’t get much sleep in the first two weeks and one day I started pumping and would only get milk for the first two minutes! I freaked out and called my husband that my pump is broken and he has to leave his work and get me a new pump. Well he did and the new pump was just as useless as my other one, which actually had been functioning perfectly well. I was just exhausted from lack of sleep and my husband suggested that I go to bed and get some hours of uninterrupted sleep and so I did. Magically the next day my milk supply had improved significantly, so believe me when I say that being relaxed and rested is one of the key points in increasing your milk supply especially in the first days pp. Waking up at night to pump also messes with your rest time. Read here for more on rest versus pumping in the middle of the night.

7. No need to sterilize your pump every time.
The below tricks are common among pumping moms:
- Refrigerator trick. Put your pump parts in a Ziploc in the fridge. That way the milk doesn’t attract any bacteria
- Wash and rinse the shield, connector and bottles with hot soapy water and sterilize once at night
- If you can afford it buy additional connectors and parts. It’s always safer anyhow to have additional parts incase something breaks

8. Use other means to increase supply.
Some non-medical methods that have an impact on milk supply are change in your diet.
- Oatmeal. I ate lots and lots of oatmeal. I had it for breakfast and for dinner. There are lots of different ways you can eat oatmeal and I tried lots of different combinations that I have listed here.
- Herbal tea. There are special teas that are made especially for breastfeeding mothers.
- Non-alcoholic beer. Just like oatmeal I was told that beer has a positive impact on milk supply.
Some medial methods are:
- Dom, Fenugreek, 2 capsules 3 times/day

9. Take it a day at a time.
It’s a good idea to set yourself short-term goals, like one week, two weeks, etc… but take it a day at a time. Remind yourself that you can stop anytime. That it was your decision to start pumping in the first place and this is not something that you are forced to do. That you are doing this for the sake of your child. Remind yourself of all the benefits of breast milk and how big and healthy your baby is getting from your milk. Remember though that your baby wants a happy contented mother, and that you CAN stop anytime. Remind yourself that formula is good too, and most of us anyhow were raised on formula and are perfectly healthy.

10. Join forums, blogs, and read stories of other moms that are going through the same situation as you.
Don’t let yourself get discouraged. I started out with such a low supply that I didn’t think I could make it to the next day. But I just tried anyhow because I thought I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t try. All the information I got on the internet really helped me. Here is a list of sites that are of great support. In addition you can read stories of other moms here. Submit your story to here so that I can post it for all the other pumping moms.

I hope these tips are of use to you. You can find more tips in my ebook. Please share any other tips you might have for other moms so we can update this list.

You CAN do this!

25 thoughts on “10 tips to increase your milk supply

  1. Dalia

    I just wanted to say thank you for this post… I was just thinking of quitting but after reading this I won’t… thanks again :-)

  2. Faizah

    Thank you so much for this post..I was about to quit then I landed on your site.. the post really boost me up to try to pump exclusively and it would be my last option rite now.. so pumping is really my last resort.. if it is still doesn’t work, formula milk isn’t not bad at all..

  3. admin

    Glad to hear that. Yes, it certainly isn’t easy to pump but once you get in to a routine it all gets much easier. Wish you all the best…

  4. Britt

    Thanks so much for the post. Nursing didn’t work for me and lactation consultants and friends/ family just wont acknowledge the fact that pumping exclusively is the only way my baby will get breastmilk. Thanks for all the tips…they actually seem practical and do- able!

  5. Amy

    Thanks for this post — I’ve been pumping exclusively for 15 months now (my son is down to 1-2 bottles a day but I want to get him through flu season). My body has decided to lessen output no matter how many times I pump but I keep drinking lots of water (at least a gallon a day) and have oatmeal in the morning. Morning is my best output. I’m glad I’ve pumped but I sure hope baby #2 latches on!

  6. Sara Post author

    Hi Amy. That is absolutely great! You should be really proud of yourself. Not so many women go on this long pumping. Don’t worry about baby #2. Many women I know pumped for the first and could breast feed for the 2nd. Celebrate what you have achieved up to now :-)

  7. Jamie

    Thanks I will for sure try these things I have a baby in the NICU she was 3 months early and so far it seems like im just not getting enough to feed her even though she is so tiny and dosent get but 1oz of milk every 3hrs thanks again for the tips.

  8. Sara Post author

    @Jamie – I know it’s easy to say, but try not to worry about your milk supply. The more you worry, the more tense you get which has the opposite impact on your supply. Have faith, get as much rest and sleep as possible and just keep on pumping. Wish you all the best for you and your baby.

  9. medela breast pump reviews

    What?s Happening i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It positively helpful and it has helped me out loads. I am hoping to give a contribution & help different customers like its helped me. Good job.

  10. a father

    it has been told that pumping will result in loosing the milk after few days….i wanted to ask of experienced mothers if it(pumping) is decreasing their milk

  11. Liz

    My son is 2 months now and was failing to gain weight the first month. The pediatrician had us ‘supplement’ more and more each week with formula (blaming the issue on my low supply) and at this point he gets mostly formula with at least one (recently 2) bottles of breast milk/day since I’ve continued pumping. He can latch on (despite being tongue-tied), but the more he gets a bottle the more he refuses the breast. I was so set on breastfeeding exclusively before he was born, and it’s been really hard to accept that that isn’t happening. Pumping feels like so much work on top of having a newborn…thanks for the tips. Have heard/tried a few of these already. So far nothing magic, but it’s nice to know other Moms have gone through this too. I have to say, the dr kept telling me not to stress. Sounds great, but very hard to do!! One thing I’d like to add is a recipe for ‘lactation cookies’ my lactation consultant told me about. http://www.drmomma.org/2010/08/lactation-cookies-recipe-increasing.html. My husband doesn’t like them much but I don’t think they’re too bad.

  12. Amy O.

    Thanks for a great post. My son was born 3 months early and couldn’t breastfeed. It’s almost 6 months since his birth date and I’m still pumping exclusively, although my supply has decreased. Exclusively pumping is a HUGE commitment, but I’d do it all again for my little guy!

    I pumped every 3 hours morning and night for the first 4 months. Once he got home and I went back to work, I can only pump every 4-5 hours. I’m convinced that his getting breastmilk helped him grow into the healthy baby I get to enjoy today.

  13. Chandra

    Thanks for all the great posts! My baby is 3 weeks old today and was born 5 weeks early and in the NICU for 2 weeks. I tried breast feeding but am leaning to exclusive pumping. All of this has been very encouraging!

  14. Sara Post author

    Thanks Chandra. Wish you all the best with pumping. Don’t let yourself get discouraged. You can do it!

  15. Melinda

    My baby was born at 32 weeks and spent 4 1/2 weeks in the NICU. I have been pumping exclusively since he was born, he’s now 16 weeks old. I have been pumping 3 times a day which was good for what he was eating, I would get 6oz in all each time and he’s eating 3oz every 4 hours so I was making just enough for him. I’m looking to increase my supply because I know he’ll be wanting more soon. It’s hard to get in 3 pumps a day when I have the baby by myself all day, I have been doing 4 for the past 2 days but will probably have to increase that more if possible. Seems like everytime I go to pump he starts crying lol..

  16. Michelle

    I thought things were going well until we had my sons one month check up. He was born at 8#14oz. At one month check up he lost weight. He was down to 7#9oz. Due to this, I tried breastfeeding, bottle feeding w/ formula to supplement, and then pumping every 2 hours. This became very exhausting for me. I then went to pumping only. I pump 8 times/day. I wish I could pump more per day. I get 21oz – 24oz per day by pumping. My little boy is eating about 35 ounces per day. Due to the weight loss, we still need to supplement with formula. At some point, I am hoping to drop the formula, but I wish I could get more by pumping. Love the refrigerator trick! Saves time not having to do dishes after each pumping session. I will be going back to work here in a few weeks, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep up the 8 pumps/day.

  17. Stacy

    Thank you for the tips. My daughter was born 1 month ago and like so many mothers I had dreams of a natural delivery and nursing my baby. Unfortunately I ended up with a csectiom and my daughter refuses to nurse. I now am trying o pump to I’ve her breast milk. Or the irst 2 weeks my supply was excellent. I got maybe 10ounces per day. Now 2 weeks later I barely get4 ounces a day.

    Many factors contributed. I slowed down oumping or 2 weeks because of so many things to do with the baby, but now I am going to give it my best shot. I want o be able to provide my daughter with at least 3 bottles of Brest milk a day, but like it was sid in this article, I will not stress about it. She is growing wonderfully well on formula and I thank GOD. For a happy and healthy baby, regardless of the way she was born and whether she nurses or not.

    Thank you again for all of the tips and I am owing to try every one of them! I am pumping right now as I type ths!!!!!

  18. Maggie

    I have tried a few of the ideas listed above, but also found a few that I didn’t know about – so thank you! I have PCOS which affects my milk supply, in addition to already having my period back. In the hospital my son would not latch on, and I thought I would have to go to exclusive pumping. Luckily on my last day, 45 minutes before being released, I met with the lactation nurse one final time and she had me try a nipple shield – which worked wonderfully! I had to use the nipple shield with every feeding for the first two weeks, then slowly I was able to get him to nurse without it. I had to return to work after 6 weeks, so as soon as I got home from the hospital I tried to pump at least one bottle a day to store in the freezer so that I had plenty of backup. Luckily I live close to home so I can nurse my son at lunch time, and I am able to pump at work once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Around my son’s age of 2 months is when my period came back, and I noticed a huge decrease in my milk supply in the week leading up to my period then for the duration of menstruation. I was so worried that I wasn’t keeping up with my son’s appetite, which of course affected my supply even more. I tried Mother’s Milk tea, however this caused excessive spit up for my son so I stopped it immediately. Having a good backup milk supply in the freezer is the ONLY reason I did not have to supplement. Now when my supply returns after menstruation, I try to pump extra during the weekends when I am home all day and my son is strictly nursing. I also pump once during the night every night – I’ve always been a light sleeper waking a few times during the night, so it doesn’t leave me overtired. My son is now 5 months old and is strictly breastfed with no supplementing. I have definitely had my share of hurdles, especially being a single mother, but I’m so glad I’ve stuck with it.

  19. Sara Post author

    Hi Maggie. Glad I could help. I’m also glad to hear that you managed to successfully abolish the nipple shield after two weeks. My lactation consultant kept telling me if I use the nipple shield too much my baby would never be able to latch on the breast. But well, they also told me I wouldn’t be able to exclusively pump…. Every body and baby is different. What works for one person might not work for the other. We just have to try it all out for ourselves and see what works. Respect for trying it all out and on top doing so as a single mother.

  20. Angeli

    This was very helpful.I’m currently in the same situation and somehow I felt relieved. Thank you so much!

  21. Beth

    Thank you so much for these tips. I have never had trouble with my milk supply until a fe days ago…I was having to pump double the time and was getting half the milk that I used to. I was starting to get concerned that my supply was drying up. After reading your tips, I changed the membranes and immediately things were back to normal. I never would have known about the membranes without this article. Thanks you again!

  22. Jade

    Thank you thank you thank you. My frustrations were growing.

  23. Keeley

    Came across this when trying to find stuff to print for a friend. This is great. I have been pumping for my daughter for 9 months now and I’ve had some up and downs. But it really is worth it to me. I haad the samething as many mothers tat wrote on here. She was in the NICU and didn’t really want the breast. She hated the wait no matter how short. So here I am at 5am writing on here and pumping. LMBO But thanks I think this will help her a lot.

    ***To everyone who pumps I wish you the best and know your not the only ones. Much love to all of you and your little ones. In the end do whatever is right for you. Enjoy the little moments with your Angels.***

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