I welcomed my son in 2004 after several years of infertility. I’d done all my breastfeeding research and was ready to go! In the hospital he latched right on and everything seemed good. But my milk didn’t come in until day 5, and when it did, it was just a trickle. So I launched myself into all the ways of increasing a low milk supply.
Instead of ditching up my dream of breastfeeding, I set out on a quest to increase my milk supply. I dug up just about every tip on breastfeeding and milk production I could find.
It turns out there are quite a number of ways to increase a low milk supply when breastfeeding. I spent hours researching and I tried pretty much EVERYTHING that seemed safe. My son was losing weight rapidly and I knew the benefits of breastfeeding were huge, so I was determined to do everything I could.
Here’s what I tried to increase my milk supply — I’ll share my results later, too!
Ways to Increase a Low Milk Supply
- Drink a lot more water.
- Use herbs (like fenugreek)
- Eat certain foods (like oatmeal and molasses).
- Drink beer (in small amounts).
- Get a breast and lymph node massage.
- Pump several times a day
- Increase the number of times you nurse each day.
- Take domperidone (requires a prescription from doctor).
- Use a hospital-grade breastpump.
- Use a supplemental nursing system for more at-breast stimulation.
What Worked to Increase Milk Supply and What Didn’t
Did any of these tips work to increase my low milk supply? I’m pleased to report that they did indeed. I tracked every feeding and everything I tried. I went from 2.7 ounces of breastmilk (per day) three weeks after my son’s birth to 6 ounces.
While I never made enough to provide all of his nutritional needs (he needed 20-25 ounces per day), I made enough to give him the benefits of breastfeeding. 4 ounces of breastmilk a day is enough to get the full benefit of its antibodies and immunities.
The things I noticed that helped me increase my supply the most were:
- Water. Gotta have that water to produce milk.
- Oatmeal. I made myself some oatmeal breakfast bars and they seemed to make a huge difference. I loved those things!
- Pumping with a better breast pump — I rented a hospital-grade breast pump from a local store and used that.
- Nursing with a supplemental nursing system to encourage natural stimulation.
What didn’t seem to make a difference?
- The breast and lymph node massage. It was just pricey and weird.
- Domperidone and fenugreek.
Why Increasing a Low Milk Supply Was So Important
My low milk supply caused some major issues for my son initially. At his first pediatrician visit, we got some bad news. My son was losing weight. Most babies do lose weight after birth,. But most babies regain the lost weight within a week. My son, however, dropped from 9lb. 4oz. at birth to 8 lb. 14 oz. upon discharge, to 8 lb. 6 oz by the next day. After three days, he was down to 8 lb. He’d lost over a pound!
My pediatrician told me it’s not atypical for a baby to lose up to 10 percent of their birth weight during the first week. A weight loss of 5 to 7 percent is more common. The thing was that my son was down 13% of his birthweight. According to Newt (Newborn Weight Loss Tool), my son was quite a bit below the 95th percentile for weight loss.
I will admit I did think about giving up breastfeeding when I learned about this.
But I didn’t give up. We kept it up, I increased my milk supply, and I supplemented with formula using an at-breast supplementing system (lots of tubes!). And my son began to thrive again. At the next weigh in, he was just about 10.5 pounds (almost 11 in his clothes). We had done it!!
When all was said and done, I increased my milk supply to 8-9 ounces per day. That’s a 300% increase! This was twice what he needed for his daily immunity supply. It was also enough that I could nurse him once a day without having to supplement with formula.
Thanks to all this, my son was able to get all his nutrition at the breast. We spent 30-60 minutes at each breastfeeding session—I know he would haven’t gotten all that bonding time with just a bottle. Breastfeeding was very rewarding. I’m so very grateful I stuck with it.
The Secret to Success with a Low Milk Supply
You know what I think the secret to successful breastfeeding with low milk supply is? It’s just persistence. Continuing to try safe remedies, sticking with what works, pumping and nursing, and just not giving up. It’s true that I wasn’t able to produce a full milk supply and I was giving my son more formula than breast milk, but I was still feeding at the breast.
And it was all worth it. My son is very healthy, resilient, and an awesome kid. He rarely gets sick, and I feel it’s due in part to those early antibodies I passed on to him as a baby.
I hope these tips give you hope! Keep at it — you CAN increase your milk supply!
Hugs and kisses,