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How To Increase Breast Milk Supply

Updated on October 19, 2010

Women are built for breastfeeding. Your age, weight or cup size don’t affect your breast milk supply. If you ask the experts at La Leche League, they will tell you it is very rare for the female body to not produce enough milk – even if it’s practically starving, the body will rob from its reserves in order to make the milk for a baby. It’s been going on since the beginning of time.

Stressful Modern Lives Affect Breast Milk Production

However, times have changed. Our diets, lifestyles and stress levels are obviously drastically different compared to the Stone Ages, or even compared to the 1950s. Although according to nature, our bodies can make the milk our baby needs, we might have to do a bit more these days than just offering it up.

As a nursing mother, stress is quite possibly the worst thing for you. Stress can decrease milk production and make it taste bitter. Before nursing (and preferably all the time), do what it takes to relax. Drink a cup of tea, do a few yoga poses, or listen to music. Then just sit down and chill out!

Choose Your Position

How you sit, hold, and offer the breast all affect lactation. If you’re having trouble, calling a lactation consultant is your best bet, but here are a few tips:

You may vary the breastfeeding positionsyou use from feeding to feeding. Then, get the proper latch. Be sure that the entire areola, not just the nipple, in the baby’s mouth. Make sure the baby’s upper and lower lips are turned out. Make sure his chin is touching the breast. And relax.

If all of these things are done upon the first few feedings, the odds are baby will be off to a good start.

What to Eat For Optimum Breastfeeding

Although it is said that the body will rob from reserves if you don’t eat enough, your diet does matter, a lot, while nursing. Nursing mothers are told to get 500 extra calories per day, and drink tons of water. What you’re eating matters, too. Obviously, you want to eat the most nutrient-dense food – just as when you were pregnant – and not foods that affect the baby adversely. Foods like garlic or hot peppers are notorious for upsetting babies’ stomachs. Other foods can simply make your milk taste bitter. To determine which ones those are, you just have to observe your baby.

Frequent Nursing Promotes Milk Production

Other ways to produce more milk are: Nurse frequently. Offer both breasts at each feeding and be sure to empty both breasts, even if means pumping the other side. And, if your production is really low, go to bed with your baby and do nothing but nurse (and eat and drink!) for two or three days.

Myths About Breast Milk Production

There are a couple myths about what stimulates milk production. Beer has been said to help, but its been found that, actually, it might stimulate the production at first, but if drank routinely will make the milk taste bitter, thus making baby drink less. Baby drinking less then slows milk production. It’s tricky.

Caffeine has also been found in some studies to increase production, but again, it might stimulate production of milk, but it also stimulates the baby. No one wants that.

Pacifiers, Bottles, and the Breast

Most people agree that using pacifiers and bottle feeding can slow down production, especially in babies under six months, since the mother nurses less, and the baby satisfies her sucking urges elsewhere. However, if you replace any missed feedings with pumping, it will help. However, because the hormone Oxytocin is released during breastfeeding and creates milk production, the body will produce much more with actual nursing over pumping.

The La Leche League is a wonderful source of breastfeeding help and information. But be forewarned, they’ll have you breastfeeding that kid until he’s twenty!

Image Credit: Melissa Stampa Photography, Flickr


Submit a Comment

  • LauraGT profile image

    LauraGT 5 years ago from MA

    Nice hub. I agree that a lot of breastfeeding problems comes from external stressors and influences. There are also other remedies for increasing supply, like herbal teas (mother's milk) and herbal supplements (fenugreek, blessed thistle) and in extreme cases domperidone (a medication whose side effect is to increase milk supply) can be used. Thanks for addressing this important issue!

  • Ruchi Urvashi profile image

    Ruchi Urvashi 5 years ago from Singapore

    Great hub. When I was breastfeeding, I had a good supply of milk. When I used to feed my baby, the milk just used to flow too much and there was a big fountain. I started using breast pump to let the excess milk be taken out so my baby can drink easily. However, it caused my baby to start drinking from bottle and she suddenly stopped breast feeding.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    Excellent information, Lela. I am putting a link to your hub in my hub on benefits of milk.

    Voted up.

  • howcurecancer profile image

    Elena@LessIsHealthy 6 years ago

    Your hub is very helpful for my sister.

  • profile image

    Breast Reduction Sydney 6 years ago

    Another great hub. I'm going to share this with my friend who is a new mum.


  • mojefballa profile image

    Ikeji Chinweuba 6 years ago from Nigeria

    Very informative hub which is well shared.I love this great hub.

  • HubMania profile image

    HubMania 6 years ago from India

    Nice Hub. Just updated with another related hub.

  • iamageniuster profile image

    iamageniuster 6 years ago

    Wow. This sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  • profile image

    Stacy 7 years ago

    I used Breastea from and saw amazing increases in my milk supply. Just make sure to pump or breastfeed a lot.

  • profile image

    breastfeeding mama 7 years ago

    I just want to comment on the pump and dump. If you are drinking while breastfeeding, you dont' need to pump and dump necessarily. Your breastmilk is filtered as your blood is. So once your blood alcohol level is down so is your breastmilk alcohol level. HOWEVER what you eat and drink will change the taste of your milk so you may need to pump and dump based on your babies cue. ALSO depending how MUCH and how LONG you are drinking you may want to pump and dump to keep your supply going as we all know breastmilk is a supply and demand issue. So if you're gone for 8 hours or drank enough that you can't breastfeed for enough hours that your baby has had to have a meal from a bottle you may want to pump and dump as many times as your baby would normally eat.

    When I have a mommy's night out I feed my baby right before I go and pump til I'm empty. Then I pump and dump when I get home and pump and dump again in the morning because I'm usually engorged from the caloric intake as well as my baby doesn't care too much for the taste so he gets his morning feedings from the bottle after I've been out. If he fusses at the boob in the afternoon I maybe keep bottle feeding him and pump and dumping.

    I Would advise against doing this too often or giving your baby a bottle too often in the first months or if you want to continue breastfeeding for a lont time because some babies will have nipple confusion and some will learn to prefer the bottle since it's less work to get the milk out of and may end up weaning themselves.

  • hellenwyeth profile image

    hellenwyeth 7 years ago

    I nursed both of my children for as long as I could. For some reason, I completely dried up with both at around 10 months. When I decided to stop it took a little over a week before I even got the slightest engorged. I'm just glad that I was able to breastfeed as long as I did. :)

  • Mousey profile image

    Mousey 7 years ago

    For me cumin, fenugreek and constant pumping using a hospital grade pump did the trick. Never had supply issues.

  • jite profile image

    jite 7 years ago from delhi

    very informative hub,thanks

  • cbris52 profile image

    cbris52 7 years ago

    Great information for moms to be!

  • profile image

    Dawn Ridvan 7 years ago

    When I had trouble with low milk supply I nursed very often, and pumped after every nursing. It is really important to pump with a good quality pump, after each nursing when you have a low milk supply. It gives your breasts extra stimulation and it really helps to completely empty each breast which tells your body to make more milk.

    Like the article says, I increased my caloric intake. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t eating enough. With everything going on with the baby I didn’t feel hungry and kind of forgot to eat, and wasn’t eating near enough to produce enough milk.

    I also increased my water consumption, and I took Lactiful Capsules. They have Fenugreek, and Blessed Thistle, and a bunch of other herbs too. They really made a huge difference – I went from having a crying baby because there was no milk, to waking up with a wet shirt because I had leaked so much milk! They really worked for me. They’re available at

  • TurnOnYourSenses profile image

    TurnOnYourSenses 7 years ago

    I am curious if you know the answer to this. My son is 4 months old. I work between 8 - 12pm. So, he is fed a bottle. I also have a 7 year old and twin 4 year olds, so time is constricted. My question is this - My nursing son prefers the left over the right side so I am uneven, and I feel like he is eating more than I can handle, yet I have been lucky enough to pump as much as possible during the day and before bed. But, I am not pumping overnight because I want to sleep! Go figure! Anyway, how can I re-balance the sides and is it OK to only try to pump during waking hours? How many days of constant pumping should I do to see a marked increase? Thanks for any help.

  • Leahwog profile image

    Leahwog 7 years ago from Kitchen Table

    I notice a difference when I have not been drinking enough water. I have about 3 different glasses of water going all day long so I don't in the by my bedside and one in the kitchen.....thanks for a great tidbit here!

  • monkebusiness13 profile image

    monkebusiness13 8 years ago

    I guess I'm one of the rare cases, because I'm not making enough milk. It happens, and women need to know that, 'cause I didn't know and now I'm suffering. But I'm looking into herbal supplements; I honestly want to breastfeed my little girl and I don't want to wait too long or she'll get nipple confusion. She's already kind of starting to. *sigh*

  • LBristow profile image

    LBristow 8 years ago

    When I was breastfeeding my supply was low to begin with. My midwife suggested Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle to increase the supply and get an easier letdown / flow.

    It seems to do the trick for me. But again somethings work for some people and not for others.

  • janddplus4 profile image

    janddplus4 8 years ago

    When my son was a cholicky newborn, my doctor advised me to drink star of anise tea to calm my own nerves. At my next visit I mentioned that my baby was miraculously cured of his colic, and my doc attributed it to me breastfeeding after drinking the tea. Everything goes through. With my next few babies, I learned to watch my diet more closely. After eating a spicy chicken sandwich from McDonalds, my daughter, two months old, would nurse and spit every mouthfull.

  • Kimberly Bunch profile image

    Kimberly Bunch 8 years ago from EAST WENATCHEE

    Great Hub! Here's one that might be useful as well:

  • profile image

    Angela 8 years ago

    When I was breastfeeding and I started gettting low milk supply, the pediatrician told me just to quit breastfeeding. Luckily someone told me to try out a herbal lactation tea called Breastea. I ordered it from the internet at It made an amazing difference in my milk supply. Before to long I was able to stop supplementing with formula.