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Breastfeeding > Increasing Milk Production

Increasing Milk Production

The best ways to increase your milk supply depend upon breast stimulation. You can put your baby to the breast for more feedings and / or express milk using a breast pump. Breast stimulation helps increase levels of the hormone prolactin. Prolactin is known as the “milk hormone” and helps initiate and increase your milk supply.

If your baby is willing or able to suckle at the breast:

  • Put your baby to the best frequently for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours. This will be at least 8 to 12 times in 24 hours.
  • Putting your baby to breast at night is especially helpful. The milk-producing hormone, prolactin, is especially increased at this time.
  • Pumping after your baby nurses for 10 minutes at least 4 times in 24 hours will also put the demand on your body to produce milk.
  • Switch nursing can increase milk supply. Feed at each breast 10 minutes, and then repeat. Left 10 min, right 10 min, left 10 min, right 10 min. The next feeding session, begin with the opposite breast but do 10/10/10/10.
  • Break the latch when baby slows down suckles and does not increase suckles when stimulated.

If you baby is currently not breastfeeding and you are pumping:

  • Do skin to skin contact by holding your baby to your bare chest. Allow the baby to suckle on your breast if they are interested.
  • Stimulate your breast by using a high quality double set-up, electrical breast pump. Pump every 3 hours for 15 minutes (even at night).
  • Watch for more than one let down during your pumping session.

Other techniques to use:

  • Apply a warm, wet washcloth or towel to your breasts or take a warm shower before feeding or pumping.
  • Massage your breast before and during feeding.
  • Use relaxation techniques while feeding or pumping. Find a quiet place to nurse your baby or to pump. Try deep breathing or visually imagine a pleasant place or milk flowing to your baby. Play quiet music or relaxation tapes while feeding or pumping.
  • Eat a good, nutritious diet. Follow a daily food guide for breastfeeding women.
  • Drink water or other fluids to thirst.
  • Losing weight too fast may decrease your milk supply. Your weight loss should be no more than 2-4 pounds each month.
  • Herbal supplements are available at health food stores and your pharmacy that have been shown to increase milk production.
  • Fenugreek is available in capsule form (three capsules three times per day of a 612 mg capsule) and as a tea for three times per day use. A maximum dose is 6000 mg per day.
  • Mother's Milk Tea is also available to drink three times per day, but dosing is less consistent.
  • Keep a record of feedings to monitor your progress.

Things that can reduce breast milk production include:

  • Birth control bills, patches or shot
  • Water pills
  • Cigarettes
  • Stress
  • Antihistamines and decongestants
Wearing a nicotine patch to help stop smoking is acceptable while breastfeeding. (Medications and Mother's Milk: 2008 edition, Thomas Hale)

This page is adapted from Children's Mercy Care Cards with help from the lactation nurses at Overland Park Regional Medical Center.

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