How Do I Increase My Milk Supply?

Dear Judy, I am looking for information on how one would increase their milk supply. My sister’s milk came in, but she has low supply. She has tried fenugreek, mother’s milk tea, and marathon pumping. She had her baby two weeks ago and the most she gets out is 20mls when she pumps. She can’t nurse him directly yet because he was premature and needs the warmth of the incubator….he is just 28 wks…2lbs…she is trying so hard! Any advice you can pass along would be appreciated.

Congratulations to your sister on her new baby. The first thing that you should tell her is that she is going a GREAT job! Her baby is very tiny and the 20 mls that she is pumping is probably a pretty normal amount for a baby of his size. Remember that a baby’s stomach is only as large as his/her little fist – so when they are first born, they won’t drink very much – and if they are premature, they will need even less in terms of volume. The great news is that the human body is AMAZING! Our bodies know when we are feeding a pre-mature baby and the milk that we produce for a premature baby is different than the milk that we would produce for a full-term baby. It is exactly what her baby needs!

Please tell your sister to pump consistently. Pumping at the same time every day will help her supply to develop and will give her body a schedule on which it will start to produce milk. She will also need to pump often. A baby of that size is probably going to need to eat every 1-2 hours. So she will want to pump as often as the baby eats. This will also help her supply.

For supplements, tell her to keep taking the fenugreek and to make sure that she is taking enough of it. Her skin will smell like maple syrup when she is taking enough.

Once she is able to, tell her to nurse the baby directly as often as possible. Her baby will be much more efficient than her pump at getting out her milk and the skin-to-skin contact will be good for both her baby’s development as well as your sister’s milk supply.

For additional pumping tips,
please refer your sister to our “pumping tips” website where there are lots of tips and tricks for increasing your supply.

Did you have a premature baby? Please leave a comment on this post to offer additional tips for this new mom!

6 comments to How Do I Increase My Milk Supply?

  • Oatmeal! You can slip it into everything or just make a big, healthy baked oatmeal, and it will help up your supply.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Judy Masucci. Judy Masucci said: How Do I Increase My Milk Supply? Please stop by pour blog to share your tips & tricks w/ this mom of a premie #bfing […]

  • Krista

    I agree, oatmeal is a good one. I ate it EVERY morning for breakfast when my supply dipped once and I woke up leaking. I also tried the Lactation Cookies. You can Google a recipe. Many people swear by them. I think they helped me, but that could also be attributed to the fact that I calmed down once I started eating them, and stressing out will definitely affect your supply.

  • My little one was born almost 6 weeks early and wouldn’t suck at all – he was on a feeding tube for 4 weeks and I couldn’t get him to really nurse until he was about 3 months old. But, he just turned one and it still nursing!
    Tell your sister that she is doing great and to keep it up – a great support system is crucial to her being able to make it through the hard times!

    The things that really helped me were; a hospital grade pump, setting an alarm to remind me to pump, supplements, oatmeal and REST.

    I used a supplement called golacta – it seemed to work better for me than fenugreek. Fenugreek worked for a while, but when my supply started to dip again, I switched to golacta. It is really hard to find in stores, but if you look online, you should find it. I also used a medicine that worked wonders but you have to get the doctor to write a prescription for it.

  • Shannon

    And reassure your sis that as long as she keeps stimulating her breasts to make milk, her supply will indeed increase when her babe is able to nurse. There is light at the end of the tunnel :)

  • The advice that has been given is great and definitely support and understanding is one thing that your sister definitely needs now. It is so important when having to initiate and maintain milk supply with a pump that expression is started as early as possible after delivery, that pumping is frequent and consistent, that a high quality (and preferably hospital grade) breast pump is used, and pumping is done around the clock. I usually recommend for the first week or so, moms pump every couple of hours around the clock although nights can be stretched a bit to get 3 hours or so of sleep at a time. After the milk supply starts to increase, get some rest at night, but continue to pump at least once during the night. This night session will eventually be able to be phased out although once the baby starts nursing, the baby will likely be up at night anyhow :)

    Although the baby is taking very little milk now, it is important for the mother to build up her supply to around the level that a full-term baby would be requiring. This is around 750ml./day and it may take 2-3 weeks for this volume to be reached. It is the frequency of stimulation and the removal of milk that is key to building a strong supply. If there is not sufficient stimulation early on, supply can suffer down the road once lactation switches to supply and demand process and is not longer hormonally driven.

    Kangaroo baby care is also really important for both mom and baby. This is where the baby is held skin-to-skin against the mother’s chest. The hospital will hopefully be encouraging this. Kangaroo care can help mom’s milk supply, will help the baby orient to the breast, and is simply a nice quiet time that mom and baby can share.

    From my own experience of having a 31 week preemie, I will say that the most difficult aspect of it all was leaving my baby in the hospital and feeling completely alone in the experience. Lots of support, understanding, and a listening ear is so important. Focus is often on the baby, but the new mom needs- and deserves- special attention and understanding at this time too.

    Best wishes to you and your sister,
    Stephanie Casemore
    Author, Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk

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