Breastfeeding can be hard. And it can be a lot of work to maintain your supply, especially if you have to pump for any reason! I’ve breastfed both of my children, and worked while breastfeeding both. You know what that means–I had to pump! It’s not something I enjoyed, but it’s what I chose to do for my babies.

The problem with pumping is that it’s not as effective at getting all the milk out of your breasts as a baby. So sometimes, my supply would start dropping some and I would get so nervous! Luckily, I had a good support system, telling me a lot of ways to boost my milk supply (and I had stored up some milk in the freezer before returning to work). Sometimes breastfeeding and expressing milk is painful! Read this article on relief from breastfeeding aches and pains.

Here are some ways (without medication) to increase your breast milk supply:

  • Water, water, water: Keeping yourself hydrated is key to keeping your supply up. I heard the suggestion to drink a glass of water every time you nurse your baby. As a rule of thumb, that’s what I tried to do–especially those first couple of months when baby nurses SO much.
  • Eat! Sounds silly, I know. But when you have a new baby to take care of, sometimes you don’t find enough time to eat. Remember, you are still solely providing nutrition not only for yourself, but for another human! I kept some healthier snacks by my common nursing spots. That way, I could snack on a granola bar or cereal bar while baby nursed. Sometimes, when I noticed a dip in supply, I’d realize I didn’t have a snack between meals or I’d have forgotten to eat breakfast. Eating was a very noticeable difference for me.
  • Oats: Eating oats–such as oatmeal or oat based granola bars–can give your supply a boost. Try these delicious Lactation Cookies.
  • Pump, even when you don’t have to: It is helpful to, if you’re able, pump on one side while your baby is breastfeeding on the other. If you can’t do that (I was never quite coordinated for that!), try pumping right after the baby finishes nursing. There is also a method of increasing supply called Power Pumping. This simply means that you pump for five minutes every 15 minutes for an hour.
  • Skin to skin: Spending some time snuggling up with your baby will help your supply. Try doing it often as it has so many benefits for baby and your milk!
  • Have a drink: Dark beer is known to give your milk a boost. Having one before you go to bed can be great for your supply. If you don’t care to drink, try purchasing some Brewers’ Yeast to sprinkle on your food.
  • Seek support and help A good support system is vital to being successful in breastfeeding. Make sure you’re around people who are supportive and helpful. Don’t hesitate for a minute to call a lactation consultant or your baby’s pediatrician for advice or to ask questions. Trust me, they want to help you be successful, too!
  • Enjoy these foods: These foods are said to give your supply a boost: asparagus, oatmeal, quinoa, fennel, flax, alfalfa and red raspberry leaf (just to name a few)!
  • AVOID these things: These herbs can lower your supply: sage, peppermint and wintergreen. Also avoid these teas: Comfrey tea, Sassafras tea, Ginseng tea, Licorice tea.

Have you been successful in increasing your breast milk supply? Please share your stories of success and any advice you have in the comments!

Please remember that this advice should not be substituted for that of a doctor and always seek professional help if needed.  Never substitute advice read online for that of a doctor or lactation consultant.

Want to read more about feeding your baby? Read this series on different methods of feeding baby:

Feeding Your Baby
Feeding Your Baby Breast Milk
Feeding Your Baby Breast Milk and Supplementing with Formula
Feeding Your Baby Exclusively Expressed Breast Milk
Feeding Your Baby Formula