Feeling like you need or want to increase your breast milk supply can be stressful, which is why knowing how to increase breast milk naturally at home can be an important skill for all breastfeeding mamas to know how to do if the need arises.
I remember when I first had my daughter feeling so overwhelmed by breastfeeding. Even though I had taken the classes, and even had professional experience working with breastfeeding mamas, the process of breastfeeding for the first time myself was still a lot to take in. Most breastfeeding moms will agree that those first few weeks of breastfeeding are a steep learning curve, but fortunately for most overtime the experience becomes much easier and more enjoyable, and can be a really beautiful way to nourish and bond with your baby.
But for many moms at some point in your breastfeeding journey you may feel like you either need or want to know how to increase your breast milk naturally at home. While most moms will be able to produce what their baby needs, there are a lot of other factors to consider these days like going back to work, needing to travel, recovering from an illness that impacted your milk supply, having a baby who may be struggling to gain weight, or just wanting our partners to be more involved in the feeding experience.
This is why I believe that it is so important for moms to know the factors that can impact their milk supply, how our breast milk is actually created, and what moms can do to know how to increase breast milk naturally at home.
How Our Bodies Produce Breast Milk
During your pregnancy you may have taken a breastfeeding class that went through the benefits of breastfeeding and some of the different things you should know to be prepared, but very rarely (if ever) is it discussed how our bodies actually product breast milk! This is something that I think all moms need to have a better understanding about since knowing HOW your body actually produces breast milk can really help you troubleshoot and navigate any concerns or issues that may arise while breastfeeding.
While most moms may think that breast milk is produced directly from what we consume, that actually isn’t the case. Instead breast milk is made in the breast from the mothers blood supply. When anything we eat or drink is ingested these substances are broken down into tiny molecules that are absorbed by our blood.
Then through a process called diffusion, the molecules in our blood move through the capillaries and cells of our breast tissue, which then get accessed for the production of breast milk. This is also how beneficial properties like antibodies are able to make their way into our breast milk to protect baby.
How To Increase Breast Milk Naturally At Home
Whether you are hoping to learn how to increase breast milk naturally at home so that you can start saving up a breast milk stash for when you return to work, or you have noticed that your breast milk supply has dropped and would like to work on increasing your supply, the following are some of the best home remedies to increase breast milk. The best part is that most of them don’t require anything special to do at home!
Close Contact With Baby
One of the best ways that you can increase your breast milk naturally is to have a lot of close contact with your baby. This could look like baby wearing more during the day, doing more skin-to-skin time, bathing with your baby, or safe co-sleeping. Our bodies are designed to be tuned into the needs of our babies, which is why the more baby is kept close the more your body will be signaled to produce milk.
Nurse On Demand
Nursing on demand can feel really exhausting for mom, but it is also another natural way that baby helps to increase and regulate moms milk supply to supply baby’s needs. This is where strict infant schedules and especially early sleep training can really negatively impact a mothers milk supply when baby isn’t “allowed” to nurse as frequently as they may need to.
So if you have the flexibility and time, allowing your baby to nurse on-demand can be a really great way to increase your milk supply. Every time that baby is brought to the breast to nurse your body is being signaled that it needs to produce more milk and pretty quickly it will learn that you are asking for more than you may have been previously.
Eat Nourishing Snacks and Meals Frequently
While breast milk isn’t produced directly from what we consume, making sure that mom is staying well nourished is really important for maintaining a healthy milk supply. Breastfeeding is a very high energetic activity, which means that most breastfeeding moms will need an additional 500 calories a day just for breastfeeding.
Overtime if a mom is not eating enough, her body can start to feel stressed and malnourished and while she most likely will still produce breast milk her supply could start to suffer. So make sure that while you are focused on nourishing your baby that you are also taking the time to nourish yourself with frequent meals and snacks.
Add An Additional Pumping Session
While no pump will ever be as efficient as your baby, adding an additional pumping session into your current pumping or nursing routine can be another way to signal your body to produce more milk. Just remember that your pumped milk output is not the best indicator of what your baby is able to draw from your breast, as every persons body responds differently to different pumps.
Breast milk is a fluid that is made up of a lot of water, which means that when we are dehydrated our breast milk supply could decrease. In order to prevent this, try to stay hydrated as best you can. Most breastfeeding moms will need a minimum of 2L of water per day to meet their own hydration and breastfeeding needs.
Being a new mom can be really stressful, and add any breastfeeding concerns into the mix and that stress is likely to skyrocket! But too much stress can tell our bodies to go into survival mode and conserve resources, which could negatively impact milk supply. This is why while it may be difficult, trying to manage your stress as much as possible is really important for supporting a healthy breast milk supply.
How To Increase Breast Milk Naturally At Home Through Food
As a dietitian I get asked over and over again how to increase breast milk naturally at home through food, and the answer really is to just make sure that you are staying well nourished yourself and doing all of the things above to reduce stress, and support your body’s natural ability to produce breast milk.
With that said, there is some minimal research, and some cultural/anecdotal evidence to support also includes a certain group of foods called galactagogues, which have been shown to potentially have a beneficial impact on a mothers milk supply. In my mind these foods are all really good for us and there really is no harm in adding them into your breastfeeding nutrition plan.
Some of my favorites, and that I think are the easiest to add into your diet at home are: Oats, Flax Seed, Brewers Yeast, Almonds, Fennel, Ginger, Nettle, Garlic, Sweet Potato, Chickpea, Lentils, Cashews
Herbs To Increase Milk Supply
I always get asked about herbs or supplements that can help support breast milk supply, and my answer is always the same. No single supplement or herb is going to do what the above can for increasing your breast milk supply naturally. However, with that said there are some herbs that similar to the galactogenic foods above have some minimal research and anecdotal evidence to support their use in helping support a mothers breast milk supply.
The most common herb you will come across that is often recommended to mothers for increasing milk supply is fenugreek. I personally do not like recommending this herb however since there is such a wide range of side effects for both mom and baby.
Instead if you do want to add herbs into your postpartum nutrition plan, I would recommend this line of postpartum specific herbal tinctures from milk moon herbs. The formulas were developed by an herbalist focused on postpartum women’s health, and they are something I personally used and really enjoyed while breastfeeding.*
*As always nothing on this page should be taken as personalized medical advice. Always consult your personal physician before adding any new supplements or changing your healthcare routine.