It’s been a stressful week…you have a ton of doctor’s appointments to get to, your little one is sick and hasn’t been sleeping well (which means neither are you), and you just can’t seem to catch up on your list of things to do. To top it all off, your milk supply is WAYYY down.
This was totally my week last week and to make matters worse, one morning I literally cried over spilt milk. As if not making as much wasn’t enough, I knocked the bottle over when putting the top on. Yup…all over the floor…and so were my tears.
So I’m here to share what I did to revive my supply and get it back where I needed it to be. In this post, you will read about:
- Reasons why your milk supply may be suffering
- How to increase your milk supply in a hurry
- Common questions about low milk supply
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Reasons Why Your Milk Supply May Suffer
So what is causing that dip in your supply? There are many reasons why your supply may be suffering…
One of the top reasons why your supply could be suffering is because of stress. Your milk is able to flow through your body because of a hormone called oxytocin. However, when you are stressed, oxytocin is suppressed by the adrenaline that your body is producing to combat the stress (source). As hard as it may be, take some deep breaths, a warm bath, or whatever else helps you to relax.
You Aren’t Breastfeeding/Pumping often Enough
Since milk supply relies heavily on supply and demand, you have to be aware of how often you are pumping/feeding. If you are spacing out feedings, skipping a pumping session, or baby is sick and isn’t eating enough, your supply is going to dip. It might not be noticeable at first, but eventually it will adjust to the smaller demand causing your output to decrease.
What You are Ingesting
Herbs, spices…there are a lot of foods you have to watch out for that cause a decrease in milk supply. And while caffeine itself doesn’t cause problems with milk supply, it is dehydrating, which will cause a dip in your supply since your body needs water to produce milk. Herbs and spices like peppermint and sage are actually used to help women wean off breastfeeding (source). Definitely be aware of your supply when having some mint tea or an Altoid.
How to Increase Your Milk Supply in a Hurry
Below are some of my favorite tried and true ways to revive milk supply. I had multiple dips in supply when breastfeeding and I have found that when using all of these together, my supply would bounce back up within 24 hours. Even if you are in a crunch, trying a couple of these will help.
1. Milk Dust Protein Powder
This protein powder was just released when I was beginning to breastfeed. I noticed a definite increase in my supply when I had it every single day and noticed that when I ran out, my supply decreased.
What I love about this powder is that it curbs sugar cravings, tastes like a speculoos cookie, and is available in single serve sample packs so you can test it before you buy an entire jar. I just mixed it with a generous handful of spinach and some unsweetened vanilla almond milk and took it with me to work.
Simple. Effective. Delicious.
2. Coconut Water
Electrolytes are a super milk booster. It’s very possible you have heard about the blue gatorade trick for boosting milk supply. While I’m all for some blue gatorade every once in a while, its sugar and calorie content are not helping my waistline. Enter coconut water! You can get the same electrolyte kick, but with a side of healthy.
3. Lactation Tea
This tea is not only delicious and caffeine-free, but packs in 7 galactagogues (milk inducing foods) that support your milk supply. I keep going back for more!
4. Blueberry Almond Oatmeal
This personal recipe of mine is a great milk booster. Although oatmeal and almonds are galactagogues, I added in some ground flaxseed and brewer’s yeast specially formulated for lactating mothers to pack some extra punch. This oatmeal is reminiscent of some weekend french toast.
Here is what you need:
- 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
- 1/2 Tablespoon Brewer’s Yeast
- 1/2 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- sliced almonds for topping
- blueberries for topping
Mix all ingredients together except for almonds and blueberries in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook on high for 3 minutes. Add in your toppings!
5. Power Pumping/Extra Pumping
Remember how your milk supply is a supply and demand process? Power pumping and/or extra pumping will trick your body into thinking it needs more milk.
Power pumping is when you cycle through 3 smaller pumping sessions in one hour. So you would pump 20 minutes, rest 10, pump 10, rest 10, pump 10. This mimics a cluster feed and tricks your body to make more milk. I’ll be honest with you, power pumping stressed me out a bit so I hardly ever resorted to this (plus, I rarely have an hour I can dedicate to sitting on the couch to pump). But, I will say that it is a successful method for quickly increasing supply.
What I liked to do is throw in some extra pumping sessions. So before my little one would wake up in the morning, I pumped. Then, I would breastfeed shortly after (within the next 15 minutes). Doing this a couple of times throughout the day helped me mimic power pumping and cluster feeding without having to be tied down to my pump for an hour.
Getting ready to go back to work? Check out my Ultimate Guide and Ultimate Product List!
Common Questions about Milk Supply
Still have questions? Below are some commonly asked questions about your milk supply.
Can Lack of Sleep Cause Decrease in Milk Supply?
Unfortunately, yes. While it may not be the only cause, sleep deprivation puts your body into overdrive and produces more adrenaline. Adrenaline is not your friend when you are breastfeeding. Drink your caffeine-free lactation tea to unwind and get into that sleepy mood to sleep when baby is sleeping.
Is My Milk Drying Up?
While it could be possible, most likely your supply is not drying up, unless there is an underlying medical issue. What you may be noticing is that your supply is actually regulating to your feeding schedule. When this happens, you won’t feel engorged, but soft and more like your old self again.
Does Caffeine Affect Your Milk Supply?
There is actually no research stating that caffeine will decrease your milk supply (source). However, it is dehydrating and can cause a dip in supply that way. So if you are drinking coffee, drink a lot of water to go with it. Also, caffeine is transferred through breastmilk to baby and while small amounts are safe, you may notice the effects of caffeine in your little one. Fussy and over-stimulated babies may not nurse well, which would cause a smaller dip in your supply (source).
How Can I Tell If Baby is Not Getting Enough Milk?
One of the most noticeable ways to see if baby is getting enough milk is through their urine. Clear and frequent wet diapers indicate that baby is getting enough milk. When they are dehydrated, the color turns darker shades of yellow.
Other symptoms to notice are lack of weight gain, poor latch or painful breastfeeding, infrequent bowel movements, and acting sleepy or lethargic.
Should I Continue to Pump if No Milk is Coming Out?
Definitely continue to pump for a couple of minutes after your milk stops flowing, especially if you are worried about your supply. This will signal to your body that it needs to make more! Your baby can empty you a lot quicker and more efficiently than a pump, so it is always good measure to take the extra time while pumping to ensure you can get as empty as possible.
Mama, You Definitely Got Milk!
It is so difficult as a new mama to get enough sleep, not get stressed, and keep life together all while depleting your body to feed your little one. No wonder your supply may dip from time to time! But, as I will always tell you, you are amazing and you got this! Try using some of these techniques and foods to help you boost your supply ASAP.
What are some of your best ways to boost your supply? Drop some ideas in the comments below!