Breastfeeding 101: Expert tips on increasing milk supply

Tips to increase milk supply

One of the biggest worries for a new mum is to know that she is producing enough milk for her baby.

Once the baby is latched on the breast there is no precise way to understand how much the baby is drinking, and it is this uncertainty which can create anxiety.

How can you start relaxing and be more confident about it?

Understanding the breast mechanisms, your body and your baby's feedback are the foundation of a good start!

Although milk production involves a complex system, the basics of it's easy:

Demand leads to Supply! The more colostrum/milk you take out, the more you refill!!!

A correct latch is the key! If you feel pain the latch is incorrect! Always adjust the latch or latch the baby again trying to insert more of your breast in your baby's mouth.

If the latch is incorrect it also means that the baby is not draining the breast efficiently resulting in less intake, a discontented baby, and therefore less production.

To produce more milk, feed the baby correctly more often, have the baby decide how long to stay on the breast and feed from both breasts if baby requires.

If direct latching is not the best option or is not enough, expressing is the other best choice to stimulate the breast, drain more and produce more.

There are three methods for expressing: Hand expressing, manual pump, electric pump.

If you want more production you can:

  • Express at least 8-12 times in 24h for about 20-30 minutes both breasts (at least once per night when the prolactin levels are higher).
  • Express always for a few more minutes after seeing the last drop of milk coming out to give your body the message that you need more.
  • Express in between feeds for about 20 minutes. It takes the breast about one hour to refill.
  • After pumping you can massage the breast and hand express some more to make sure that the breast is completely empty.
  • Power pumping: pump 20 min, rest 10min, pump 10min, rest 10 min and pump a final 10 min. It takes 1h to complete power pumping and you can do it once or twice per day until you are satisfied with your production. 

Tips to help the latch and milk production:

  • Skin-to-skin contact improves hormone levels and encourages the baby to search for food.
  • Read and recognize the baby's early feeding cues: head turning to look for the breast, your baby becoming more alert and active, opening & closing the mouth, lip-smacking, fists moving to mouth, sucking on hands. Crying is a late cue, don’t wait for your baby to always cry before latching him/her on the breast, also always calm your baby before trying the latch.
  • Use hot compresses for about 5 minutes prior to starting feeding and/or expressing.
  • Try not to stress over production.
  • Trust your body and enjoy your baby.
  • Rest with your baby timings.
  • Eat healthily.

Written by Ajla Begolli,
Lactation Consultant, Mediclinic Welcare Hospital.