- Nurse or pump frequently. Plan to nurse at least every 1 1/2 to 2
hours during the day and at least every 3 hours at night even if you
must awaken your baby. Time your feedings from the beginning of one to
the beginning of another. If your baby is available to nurse, this is
preferable to pumping as he will better stimulate your breasts to
produce more milk.
- Allow the baby to nurse on each side until he pulls off himself or goes to sleep.
- Offer both breasts at each feeding.
- Although nursing is preferable, if the baby cannot nurse
directly at the breast, use a hospital-grade electric pump for double
pumping instead (such as the Lactina or Pump In Style).
Double pumping has been shown to increase Prolactin levels. Prolactin
is the hormone which stimulates milk production. Pump for 10-15 minutes
per session. Longer sessions have not been proven to be any more
beneficial at increasing supply.
- Along with nursing, you may want to add another pumping
session or two sometime during your day. You also may want to add a few
extra minutes (5-10) of pumping after the baby has finished nursing.
- Allow the baby to meet all of his sucking needs at the
breast. Avoid any bottles or pacifiers during this time. Your baby's
need to suck ensures that he spends adequate time at the breast to
stimulate your supply.
- Avoid supplements including solid food, water, juice, and
formula. Adding these will result in your baby nursing less often and
you getting less stimulation. You can be sure that your baby is getting
enough by counting his wet diapers and bowel movements. See "Is My Baby Getting Enough?"
- If your baby requires a supplement for medical reasons, consider using a nursing supplementer at your breast so that you can continue to receive crucial BABY stimulation.
- Snack often on foods rich in protein and calcium.
- Drink enough to satisfy your thirst. Forcing fluids is not
necessary and may have the opposite effect. Any type of fluid is
- Rest as much as you can. Consider taking the baby to bed
with you for the time period. The rest will benefit you and the close
skin-to-skin contact may encourage him to nurse more often.
- Some mothers have found that the herb, Fenugreek,
is helpful for increasing milk supply. It works best when combined with
increased frequency of nursing and/or pumping. You can find it at your
local health food store or nutrition store. The dosage is 2-4 capsules
3 times a day. Most moms notice an increase in supply after using it
1-3 days. It is safe for your baby. While taking it you may notice that
your perspiration and urine smell like maple syrup as Fenugreek
is used to give artificial Maple syrup its odor. Some moms report
diarrhea while taking it that quickly resolves once they stop taking
it. If you suffer from asthma, your symptoms may become worse with the Fenugreek.
Dosages higher than the recommended one given above may result in
hypoglycemia in some mothers. If pregnant, you should NOT use Fenugreek
as it may cause uterine contractions. Many moms use it for a quick
boost to their supplies. Others have used it long-term with no
problems. Other herbs often recommended for increasing milk supply are Blessed Thistle and Alfalfa.
For some mothers a combination of herbs seems to work better than one
herb alone. You may use the Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, and Alfalfa in
combination if you choose.
- If the above measures do not cause a significant increase
in your supply, you may want to ask your doctor about Reglan
(Metoclopramide), a prescription drug available in the US and sometimes
prescribed for low milk supply. Reglan is most effective at doses of
10-15 mg 3 times a day and should not be used for any longer than 2-4
weeks. If you have a history of depression, Reglan should be avoided
due to its potential side effects of depression and mood swings. If you
live outside the US in a country where the drug Domperidone (Motilium)
is approved, it may also be used for low supply and seems to have far
fewer side effects than Reglan. The dosage suggested for increasing
milk supply is 10-20 mg 3-4 times a day. Domperidone can be compounded
by a pharmacist with a prescription in the United States. It can also
be obtained in its completed form without a prescription from countries
outside the United States. Ordering it in this fashion is legal and
considered safe. For more information on obtaining Domperidone, visit
this page. Both Domperidone and Reglan can be used with any of the herbs mentioned above.
Written by Becky Flora, BSed, IBCLC
Last revision: May 28, 2003
La Leche League's, "The Breastfeeding Answer Book" (1997) by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC and Julie Stock, BA, IBCLC
"The Nursing Mother's Guide to Weaning" (1994) by Kathleen Huggins, R.N., M.S. and Linda Ziedrich
"Medications and Mothers' Milk" (1999) by Thomas Hale, Ph.D.
More info at other sites:
"Increasing Low Milk Supply" - Determine here if your supply is really low and read about methods to increase it if it is.
"Herbal Remedies for Increasing Milk Supply"