Here you are — you finally think you have this breastfeeding thing down. No more sore nipples, baby is gaining weight, sleeping in longer stretches, and you’re finally starting to feel like your old self again. Then suddenly you have a drop in your milk supply in what seems like overnight. This sudden change isn’t uncommon to nursing mothers, but it can cause momentary panic in a new mom and leave you wondering why this is happening. Many things can cause a once robust milk supply to drop. It could be that you went back to work and are now separated from your baby for longer stretches during the day, perhaps you had an illness, have had recent stress in your life, return of your menstrual cycle, or just plain haven’t been taking good care of yourself. Whatever the reason for this drop, there are things you can do to bring your milk supply back up to the level it once was.
Can you increase your milk supply after it decreases?
Yes. The fastest way to increase your supply is to ask your body to make more milk. Whether that means nursing more often with your baby or pumping – increased breast stimulation will let your body know you need it to start making more milk.
It usually takes about 3-5 days before you see an increase in your supply.
Here are 10 tips on how to get your milk supply back up to where it once was:
- Get lots of rest and take care of yourself. It is so important that you’re getting enough sleep. Try to choose a sleeping arrangement that allows for the maximum amount of sleep for mom and baby.
- Drink lots of water! I can’t stress this enough. Every time you breastfeed or pump, drink a glass of water.
- Have a “nurse in” with your baby. Take at least 24 hours and snuggle in with the baby. Have water, snacks and diapers at hand and nurse as often as baby will nurse. Practicing skin to skin during this time also helps to increase milk supply. This time together for mom and baby not only will increase the frequency of nursing, but also provide some extra rest for Mom, which also helps to increase prolactin level and helps with your milk supply.
- Consider pumping. Try to pump 8-10 times in 24 hours, 10-15 minutes at a time, every day after breastfeeding until you notice your supply increasing. You’re pumping to increase your milk supply, so don’t worry if nothing comes out at first.
- Apply a warm compress to your breasts for a few minutes before breastfeeding or pumping. Combined with a breast massage, the warm compress will help to get the milk flowing.
- Try taking galactagogues. Galactagogues are herbal supplements that help to increase your milk supply. The most commonly used are Fenugreek, brewers yeast, blessed thistle and alfalfa. Before taking a galactagogue talk to your health care provider to see if they are safe for you.
- Take away the pacifier. If your baby has a need to suck – let them fulfill that suck on your breasts. Any extra stimulation on your breasts will help to increase your milk supply.
- Eat foods know to help increase your milk supply. Foods such as oatmeal, garlic, carrots, fennel, nuts, green papaya, sesame seeds and ginger all work to help increase your milk supply.
- Make lactation cookies. There are many recipes online that are easy to make and yummy to eat. These cookies contain ingredients that will work to give your supply a boost.
- Don’t stress out. Try to keep things relaxed and focus on the positive things. Your milk supply will return.