If you choose to breastfeed your baby, there are many natural ways to keep up a good supply. Your body produces milk based on the supply and demand concept. If baby is cluster feeding (eating more frequently) your body will know to produce more. Below is a list of natural ways to keep up a good supply or even increase production.
These methods have been attempted and proven effective by many mothers. Keep in mind that these suggestions work for some but may not work for all. We encourage you to try these and see what works best for you. Although these are all-natural methods, it is always encouraged to talk with your doctor or lactation specialist if you have any questions, concerns or special circumstances.
- Basil Essential Oil
- Mother’s Milk
- Brewers Yeast
- Plenty of Water
By applying basil essential oil to the top of each breast, you can significantly increase your supply. Some women have noticed an increase of 3-5 extra ounces from one pumping session when they try this method. Dilute a few drops of basil essential oil in about a teaspoon of water and rub it onto the top of each breast (about 3” above nipple). Basil essential oil typically doesn’t come with a basic oil kit but you can purchase this individually online. Keep the bottle right in your pump bag to give yourself a reminder to use it. It does have a potent and interesting smell. Your friends and family may think you smell like a pasta dish but that’s okay. It is worth it for the extra milk!
Fenugreek is a plant which you can purchase in the form of capsules. Fenugreek actually increases fluids in the body in general. Your body works hard to produce milk so increasing the overall fluidity of your body is a good thing. The capsules usually come in a large size so if you have a hard time swallowing large pills, keep that in mind. You may notice they have almost a sweet smell like maple syrup.
Mother’s Milk comes in the form of tea or capsules. This is a combination of herbs and flavors that are helpful in milk production including fenugreek, coriander, anise and fennel. Many complain that the flavor is not very good but it works for milk production. The flavor has been described as an herb-like black licorice. Many moms swear by this but they say that they swallow the liquid down fast to avoid the strange flavor.
Brewers yeast comes in the form of powder. You can also buy flaxseed in a ground, powder form. Adding these to your daily diet will help boost milk supply. They can easily be added to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt and a variety of baked goods. There are lots of fun ways to incorporate these boosters into baking. A popular example of this is a lactation cookie recipe. This is great because it tastes good and you are helping your body to produce milk. It’s a perfect excuse to eat cookies! One helpful trick you can do is put a mixture of brewers yeast and flaxseed in a small, tightly sealed Tupperware and bring it with you when you leave the house. That way you can add a little to food and drinks while you are out or at work. Some mothers will sprinkle a little mixture in their oatmeal each morning.
One of the most important things to remember is drinking enough water. It sounds so simple but many women fall short on what they should be taking in. It is so easy to forget something as simple as drinking water when you are trying to care for a new baby. Your baby is your priority and you quickly and easily forget about caring for yourself. Your body absolutely needs plenty of water in order to produce breastmilk.
When you are all snuggled up on the couch feeding your little one and they happen to fall asleep in your lap, the last thing you want to do is get up and get yourself a glass of water. Try to remember to always keep water on end tables or nightstands throughout the house where you spend most of your time. When you deliver your baby, the hospital usually gives you a large drinking glass with a lid and straw. This is nice so you don’t have to worry about reaching for your drink to sip while holding baby. The straw is long so you can easily grab it and take some sips without disturbing the little one.
DOES IT FEEL LIKE YOUR MILK IS LOW OR GONE?
If you are determined to feed your baby breast milk for a certain amount of time but your milk feels like it is running low – don’t give up! There are many factors that play into milk production and just because you feel like the supply ran out doesn’t mean you can’t bring it back! If you are fighting a cold or flu, your body might be using most of its resources to get healthy again. This might affect your milk. Try to eat a good balanced diet (even extra calories) and plenty of fluids. If you run dry you can continue to try nursing and pumping to bring the milk back. It has been done. Your baby may get frustrated if they nurse and no milk is coming out. If that’s the case then focus on pumping. Create a consistent schedule that works for you and pump until the milk comes back.
NEED A MILK STOCKPILE?
If your maternity leave is coming to an end, you may be feeling very anxious about your milk supply and separating from your child. Hang in there new mommy. These are normal feelings. Here are a few things you can do to minimize your anxiety:
- Get your little one accustomed to bottle feeding weeks before you go back to work (you can still nurse as well) Check out our recent post on introducing a bottle to your breastfed baby.
- Write down how often your baby eats and an estimate of how much they eat. It can be difficult to determine how many ounces they get from breastfeeding so make your best guess based on how many ounces you get from a pumping session. This will help give you an idea of how much they eat throughout the day.
- Build your stockpile. Check out our guide below to see how to store milk.
- If you don’t feel you have enough, don’t stress. You can always add some formula to the bottle. Stress alone may decrease your supply so stay calm.
- Try power pumping. This is where you pump, take a break, pump, take a break in specific intervals. This will tell your body to produce more milk as it mimics cluster feeding. Just be sure to use some nipple balm!
Just remember that if you are struggling with keeping up your milk supply and you have tried all the methods, it is alright and you are not weak. Many women struggle with their milk supply or even latch issues with their baby. At the end of the day if you have given it your all and your baby is fed then you are doing a great job. And remember, there is no use crying over spilled milk - unless it's the few ounces that you just pumped - then definitely cry it out because that's the worst!
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