How to increase breastmilk supply
Read time: 3 minutes
Out of all the common breastfeeding problems, the most common reason to stop breastfeeding is due to concerns around not having enough milk. Most of the time your milk supply can be increased and therefore this is not something to worry about, or a reason to stop breastfeeding1. Here we have made a quick guide on what to do if you think you aren’t producing enough milk.
Eating a full and healthy balanced diet is really important in producing milk.
Breastmilk is made on a supply and demand basis, therefore the more often you feed your baby and the more you feed, the more milk you will produce. Therefore, it is best to continue trying to feed if you think your supply is low2.
Signs you’re not producing enough breast milk1
- Your baby is less than birth weight at 2 weeks, or gaining weight at less that 150g/week
- Your baby is producing less urine and the urine is dark and concentrated
- Your baby is weak, tired or sleepy
If you are concerned about not producing enough milk discuss your options with a health care professional to try and get as much support as possible to continue breastfeeding, as this has many benefits and helps to give your baby the best start in life.
What can affect breast milk supply1?
- Ensuring you have all the right nutrients will ensure you baby gets all the right nutrients. For more tips see our guide on a healthy breastfeeding diet
- Ask your doctor before stopping medication use or if you believe a new medication may be reducing your milk supply
Your baby’s position and latching during feeding
- Using a dummy may cause your baby to have issue latching on correctly
Delayed start to breastfeeding
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Breastmilk is made on a supply and demand basis – the more often you feed your baby and the more they consume, the more milk you’ll produce. This is due to your body releasing the hormone oxytocin when you’re near your baby and they’re giving feeding signals such as crying or trying to latch on. This hormone triggers your milk to be released, which in turn depletes your milk stores. This depletion of your milk stores causes the release of another hormone, prolactin, which tells your body to produce more milk. That’s why it’s important to continue trying to feed if you think your supply is low3.
How to increase breast milk
Increasing milk supply may be possible by trying to maximise this supply and demand hormone system:
Increasing prolactin production, by making sure you empty your breasts regularly:
- Allowing your baby to feed for as often and as long as they want
- Completely emptying both breasts during feeding
- Expressing often
Increasing the oxytocin hormone, which causes milk ejection:
- Staying near your baby
- Increasing skin to skin contact with your baby
Foods to increase your breast milk supply
There are no specific foods to increase your breast milk supply. However, making sure you are eating a full and healthy balanced diet is really important in producing milk, as you are proving all the nutrients to make your breast milk and so need to make sure you are getting all of them from your breastfeeding diet1.
Tips for breast milk production
Your local area may have a breastfeeding support group, which can help you with issues surrounding milk production. You can also seek advise from your midwife/health visitor who can put you in contact with a lactation consultant, if they can’t help you with increasing milk supply yourself.
- Amir, L. Australian Family Physician. 2006;35(9);686-689
- Kerstin Uvnäs Moberg. K, Prime. D. Infant. 2013;9(6):201-206
- Amir, L. BMJ. 2014;348:g2954
Last reviewed: 13th July 2020
Reviewed by Nutricia’s Medical and Scientific Affairs Team
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.