Milk Supply

NOTE: This list is prioritized, so start at the top. ALSO, mommas who have not regulated their supply yet may find it easier to see an increase (Most regulate by 2-3 months). These are TIPS, not guarantees…as all mommas are unique and may experience varied results.

  • PRIORITIZE MILK-MAKING. Especially early on. Building supply needs to happen right away, it’s much more difficult later. If it’s a priority, know that it will take TIME and a rigorous schedule of every 2-3 hours of pumping or nursing.
  • FREQUENT pumping/nursing. Increase in demand equals increase in supply.
  • Correct FLANGE SIZE
  • When did you last change your valves? That can really make a difference!
  • CALORIES. Aim for 500 additional calories per day. (Increase your PROTEIN and healthy FATS)
  • MASSAGE and apply HEAT before and during pumping
  • Power-Pump once a day for a week straight
  • GALACTOLOGUES- foods that are known to naturally support lactation (Oats, etc)
  • I do not recommend any herbal supplements and I caution against fenugreek, as it can have a negative effect on milk and nutrient absorption for some women
  • Multiple let-downs. Stop and start pump after milk slows to try to initiate another let-down.
  • RELAX, if you can. Don’t watch those bottles!

Sometimes I get powerful visuals in my head that help explain concepts to people who are visual learners like me. One image that helps me explain milk supply for exclusive pumpers is a handful of sand.
You’ve worked very hard and pumped on a strict and frequent schedule to build your milk supply. Now you notice it decreasing. Like sand slipping through your fingers, not easily built back up. Why does this happen and how can you protect your supply? See a list of reasons why in the section BELOW!

Decide what’s within your control and protect your milk supply. Have grace with yourself and your body for things that are outside of your control.

It’s gonna be some tough love I’m giving you today but if exclusively pumping breastmilk is a priority to you, you’ll do everything you can to protect your milk supply. I know pumping can be hard work and the truth is, sometimes pumping can’t take front seat as a priority. Sometimes LIFE gets in the way and you have to supplement and that’s OK! Your baby will benefit from any, I mean ANY amount of breastmilk you can give them. What you’re doing for your baby is important work, momma. You should be proud!

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Figuring out WHY your body IS creating less milk is the first step in figuring out how to help it begin creating more milk again.
Let’s try to problem-solve this together!

Parts- Are you using the correct flange size? When did you change your valves last? Do you have a good, quality pump?

Hormones- Have you recently experienced the return of your period or started birth control? Many mothers benefit from taking a calcium-magnesium supplement with the return of their period. Make sure you talk to your healthcare provider about breastfeeding and birth control hormones.

Pump schedule- Have you been pumping regularly? If you skipped pumps or supplement instead of removing milk, you are telling your body to produce less milk. Demand = supply. It’s hard to rebuild your supply after you’ve lost it.

LIFE. Sometimes factors beyond our control take priority over pumping. Illness, schedules, multiple children to look after, etc, can cause you to skip pumps or stop pumping altogether, which signals your body to crease less milk.

Diet- Have you been eating and drinking enough? Yes, a diet rich in good fats and proteins is ideal, but make sure that you are simply eating enough and drinking enough to maintain milk supply. Now is NOT the time to cut calories, and hydration is a MUST! .

Stress- How stressed have you been? Try to find ways to relax, especially while pumping! .

NO MILK- If you stopped breastfeeding entirely for any reason and are trying to start again, now we’re talking relactation, and medication is often necessary to tell your body to create milk again. .

There is NO MAGIC pill or supplement to increase supply. You’ve got to remove the milk to make more milk. Hormones and diet can play a huge role as well. Please talk to an IBCLC and/or healthcare provider to problem-solve further!

So is there any hope of raising your supply back up? Under 2-3 months, it may be easier to build your supply back up because your body is still figuring out how much milk to make. After that, it could be a bit more difficult. After your body stops producing milk completely, you’re now talking about “relactation” and it is best to seek the advice of a medical professional.

Did your breastfeeding journey get off to a bad start? 😓
When I talk to mommas about low supply one of the reasons listed was “Bad Start.” I was thinking, phew that’s harsh! But literally there’s not much of a better way to say it!

We know that milk supply is based off of the demand for milk, whether it’s being demanded by baby nursing or by the act of pumping… and we know that this demand should begin within the first few hours after birth, literally as soon as possible.
Milk must be removed frequently (every 2-3 hrs) around the clock beginning at birth, in order to establish a full supply.
But… life happens. C-section recovery, NICU stays, life events, stress, etc… and not every mother gets off to a “good start.” If that’s you…. HAVE GRACE WITH YOURSELF MOMMA. That’s the first step.
If you’re under 2 months postpartum, you have the greatest chance of still recovering/building your supply because it’s likely that your supply has not regulated yet. So….
1️⃣ Take a look at your priorities. If giving 100% breastmilk is a priority to you, get yourself in a strict schedule of pumping every 3 hours around the clock- set alarms in your phone.
2️⃣ Get a quality pump, correctly sized flanges, and replace parts as needed. (Exclusive pumpers should replace their valves every 1-2 months.) Flanges should allow your nipple to pulse freely within the tunnel without rubbing the sides and without pulling too much of your areola into the tunnel.
3️⃣ Get yourself on a diet that supports lactation- HIGH calories full of good fats and protein. HYDRATE. Google galactagogues and eat them!
⭐️ IMPORTANT ⭐️ If you know that any breastmilk is better than none (that’s the truth!!!), and you cannot make pumping top priority, pump on as strict of a schedule as you can manage and supplement what you cannot produce. Like I said, give yourself grace. We are all living different lives and talking a good look at priorities will let you know if you can honestly make exclusive pumping work right now or not. AND THAT’S OKAY!

❗️ (YES there are outliers to low supply that an IBCLC can work with you on individually… the info I post is for the average/typical experience.) Kaia, a CLC who runs @lowsupplymom is a GREAT resource for all things LOW SUPPLY… go check out her Instagram page HERE and her website HERE!

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