5 Breastmilk Boosting Tips for Moms with a Naturally Low Supply


Breastfeeding Article Disclaimer: I’m a firm believer that fed is best; that each parent should do what needs to be done to properly care for herself/himself and for her or his child. I write about breastfeeding because it’s my personal experience; never to shame and never to divide. Please help keep this community positive by choosing not to participate in the shaming of another parent or another parent’s choices—here or anywhere. We are all in this together. 





I’m about a week away from wrapping up a year of breastfeeding my youngest daughter. This is the second child that I’ve been able to meet my breastfeeding goal with, and I’m incredibly proud of myself. That being said, breastfeeding has been a challenge for me with both of my daughters because I have a naturally low breastmilk supply. Before you start to write a comment, let me say a few things:

  1. I’m aware that breastfeeding is a system of supply and demand. My supply is still naturally low.
  2. I’m aware that there are certain foods that you can try to up your milk supply with. My supply is still naturally low.
  3. I’m aware that there are all kinds of techniques and supplements and lifestyle changes that can help you produce more milk, and my supply is still naturally low.

The truth about breastfeeding is, everyone starts off with a different amount of milk, regardless of what you do or don’t do. On day one of nursing a child, some moms face an over supply, some have a supply that is more or less average, and some, like myself, have a naturally low breastmilk supply. If you also have a naturally low breastmilk supply…this post is for you.

While nursing both of my daughters, I struggled to find information that was in anyway relevant to me and my low breastmilk supply. It seemed like everything I read featured an image of 10 oz. of expressed breastmilk from one pump session, or a story about how eating this one food increased milk supply by 4 oz. per feeding within one day.

And, guys? That has never been me.

My breastfeeding journey has been very much about just making it through; producing enough day by day (because building a freezer stash when you have a low milk supply is a whole challenge in and of itself). It’s been about fighting to produce enough food to keep my child nourished. Now I know that every single nursing mother, regardless of milk supply, experiences similar moments of struggling. Breastfeeding is challenging no matter what. And, that being said, having a low breastmilk supply comes with added challenges that few really understand.

Am I starving my child?

Am I selfish to breastfeed when my supply is low?

What if I don’t pump enough milk during the workday?

Will I need to go buy formula? 

When your supply is low, you constantly feel on-edge; as if the ability to breastfeed can slip away in a single moment if you don’t do exactly what needs to be done. To help combat those constant feelings on my second breastfeeding adventure, I set out to try new milk-boosting methods and lifestyle tweaks in an effort to save a bit of my sanity and not stress myself out.

While every mom’s experience will be different, these are 5 things that really helped boost/maintain my breastmilk supply:  

 

breastmilk boosting tips for moms with a naturally low breastmilk supply

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5 Breastmilk-Boosting Tips for Moms with a Naturally Low Supply

 

 

1. Add a Pump Session to Build a Freezer Stash

Build a breastmilk freezer supply and freeze breastmilk

This was the game changer for me between breastfeeding my first child and breastfeeding my second.

With baby #1, I felt like I was never able to get ahead on my milk supply. When I got home with baby #2, I was on a mission to change that.

I added my session in the early evening, after my little one was down for her first stretch of the night, because that was the time that was least-stressful for me, as my oldest daughter was always asleep, the newborn slept pretty regularly through that time, and my partner was around to help out if one of them were to wake up while I was pumping. Basically, I picked a time that wouldn’t stress me out; a time where I had some extra support.

During the first few weeks of my daughter’s life, I was lucky to maybe get half an ounce from that added session. It was slow building, for sure. But I kept pumping and was able to put away a two ounce bag every couple of days without too much added stress…which was a huge accomplishment for me!

My supply started to increase gradually over time, and I was able to, little by little, build a respectable freezer stash of about 100 oz. by the time I returned to work after my maternity leave. When I returned to work for baby #1, I literally had 4 oz. in the freezer and had to do a mid-day milk exchange with my partner (who was working freelance from home and taking care of our girl at the time). STRESSFUL. NOT FUN.

When you’re adding a pump session, make sure you…

  • Pump for at least 20 minutes, no matter how much (or how little) milk you produce
  • Don’t stare at the milk coming out; it will only stress you out
  • Relax as much as humanly possible while pumping

You can read about how I was able to build a breastmilk freezer stash, even with a low milk supply, here. 

 

2. Don’t Stress About Your Weight

Weight while breastfeeding

Some mamas are able to get their pre-pregnancy bodies back quickly after having a baby, and many will credit breastfeeding to their weight loss. It’s true that breastfeeding does burn off a good number of calories, but it’s also important to note that typically the calories your burn off are linked to how much milk you’re producing and expressing. That means that if your milk supply is naturally lower, you’re going to be burning off fewer calories from breastfeeding than women with a naturally higher supply. (Bummer, right?)

The good news is that most women, even those with a low supply, are able to see some weight loss through eating healthfully and exercising smartly (once they are cleared by a medical professional to do so).

A big key when breastfeeding is your goal and you have a naturally low supply is not to go overboard. Make sure you eat plenty of good calories. Over cutting can cause your supply to drop pretty dang quickly.

If the weight doesn’t magically melt away and you’re breastfeeding your heart out…don’t beat yourself up over it. No woman, breastfeeding or not, should be too hard on herself after LITERALLY GROWING A HUMAN. Give yourself a break, some love, the occasional piece of chocolate or glass of wine. The added stress won’t help you out whatsoever.

 

3. Find the Breastmilk Booster That Works for Your Body

Breastmilk boosting foods and supplements for when you have a low milk supply

There are tons and tons of foods and supplements that may increase your milk supply. And because most moms will swear by different items, it’s safe to assume that different boosters work differently for different people. The best way to figure out what works best for you is to try a few different ones and see what gives you the best results. Make sure you run any dietary questions by your doctor when you’re breastfeeding first, but pantry foods commonly known to increase production are:

  1. Oatmeal
  2. Flax Seed
  3. Wheat Germ
  4. Brewer’s Yeast
  5. Mother’s Milk Tea

You can easily find the oatmeal at any grocery store—I used plain old Quaker old fashioned rolled oats. Oatmeal was actually the #1 thing that boosted my supply while breastfeeding. To boost my supply even more, I added in some ground flax seed and wheat germ.

The wheat germ can be a little tricky to find in the grocery store, so I ended up buying mine on Amazon (which you can do here if you’re interested in giving it a shot yourself).

The ground flax seed is available in most grocery stores now a days, but if you can’t find it, you can buy it on Amazon (seriously, what did we do before online shopping was a thing?). This is the brand that I always use and love, but there are lots of others to choose from. Just make sure you go for ground flax seed, as your body will absorb it and all it’s milk-boosting goodness easier.

Brewer’s Yeast was entirely new to me, and honestly I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Whenever I’m in doubt…I pretty much throw things into smoothies, which is exactly what I did with Brewer’s Yeast. Banana + Oatmeal + Almond Butter + Plain Greek Yogurt + Almond Milk + Brewer’s Yeast = a tasty breastfeeding treat. You can even make up a big batch like I did and keep it in mason jars to grab over the course of a few days (because honestly, what new mama has time to make a smoothie multiple times a day?). Again, I have no earthly idea where one would find Brewer’s Yeast in the grocery store, so I bought it on Amazon here and saved myself a headache.

Mother’s Milk Tea wasn’t as much of a booster as the other things on this list, but it did make a tad bit off a difference for me—and some moms swear by it!—so I wanted to make sure it was included on your “to-try” list, just in case. It’s usually available in the tea department of most grocery stores, but you can also buy it on Amazon here. Again, remember that all boosters work a little differently for everyone, so don’t be afraid to try different things!

 

 

4. Water, Water, Water and then More Water

Drink water while breastfeeding how much

Pretty common sense for all breastfeeding mamas, but if you have a naturally low breastmilk supply…GET THAT WATER IN, lady friend.

A big key for me was making sure to drink extra water whenever I had a cup of coffee, an alcoholic beverage, or anything that would possibly leave me a little dehydrated. If you’re constantly on-the-go, traveling, or always physically active…same thing. Make sure you add some extra h2o.

To calculate the daily amount of water that I’ve heard most breastfeeding moms aim to consume (and what I personally did), you just:

  1. Take your current body weight in pounds
  2. Divide it in half
  3. Aim to drink that many ounces of water a day.

So, for example, if you weigh 200 lbs, you would aim to drink 100 oz of water daily. And again, if you have any questions or concerns about what may be best for you personally, please always check with a medical professional (which I’m not).

 

5. Meditate Every Dang Day

Meditation to boost breastmilk supply

An often-overlooked factor in breastmilk production is stress. When stress-levels go up, milk levels typically go down. For mamas with a naturally low supply, it’s super important to not let something like stress sneak into your day and reduce your breastmilk production.

For me, adding a daily meditation (even if it was 60 seconds sitting in a bathroom stall) made a difference not only in my milk supply, but in maintain my mental sanity on days when breastfeeding felt overwhelming.

What are some great breastmilk-boosting tips that worked for you?




How to increase breastmilk production when you have a naturally low milk supply

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14 Comments

  • Reply Veronica Flores

    I’m so excited and happy to read your post! I too have a natural low supply. I have struggled with both of my kids just like you…and just like you the second time around I was determined to reach my goal because I know it’s great for both me and my son. For my first baby I had to supplement with formula because I didn’t produce enough. And of course I didn’t want my baby to starve so formula it was. However, this time around with Pinterest around I get to hear from mamas like you! I wish I can give you a hug because…WOW the struggle is real! I do everything on the list except for wheat germ and still produce only enough to feed day by day. But I continue to push on. My son is 7mths so we are almost there!

    June 16, 2017 at 6:11 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      I’m so happy to know that there are others out there who can relate, and I wish I could give you a big hug right back! 🙂 I just hit my 12 month goal with baby #2 yesterday and it was a struggle the whole time. That’s amazing that you’ve made it 7 months with your new little one!! Top priority is always making sure the babies are fed, but when we can meet breastfeeding goals, it’s pretty awesome. 🙂 xoxo.

      June 16, 2017 at 11:11 pm
  • Reply Yolanda

    I love that you talk about how different mamas have different experiences with milk supply. And although you know and gave tried many of the “tried and true,” your supply was still low. Same here. I never made enough milk to nurse my oldest daughter for longer than a couple of months. But I have a 4-week-old and we’re having a better experience. I love your list and I have tried some, but I will add the others to my bag of tricks 😉

    June 16, 2017 at 7:51 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      Congrats on your new little love!! I’m so glad that things seem to be going a little smoother for you this time around. Hope the suggestions help you like they helped me! 🙂

      June 16, 2017 at 11:14 pm
  • Reply MomOf3

    This is very insightful, a naturally low supply never crossed my mind as “thing”. I’m trying to feed twins with a low supply, I don’t know if it’s natural or not, I didn’t have a low supply with my first child. It could be the challenges I faced in the beginning with having them 8 weeks early with 6week 5 day run in the NICU, my son doesn’t know how to latch and he doesn’t like the nipple shield. So I find myself breastfeeding sister and pumping his milk. When I first had them I stressed myself out because I couldn’t keep up with their growing appetites. Once I came to the realization that regardless of how much milk I was producing, they were still going to need special formula for preemies, I realised the stress and started mixing bm and formula to fulfill the requirements for each feeding. Then I was able to get ahead of the demand, at least for how much bm was used for each feeding. Anyway, I found a drink mix by UpSpring, called milk flow. It’s a quick powder drink mix with a lot of the herbal ingredients you find in most supplement drinks but it’s a lot quicker than brewing a tea. They have a berry flavor and chocolate. Never tried the chocolate, but I was able to double my output at the next pump after I drank the mix. I like the taste and the results with this product, but I will say that it does make you windy(flatulence).

    July 8, 2017 at 7:19 am
    • Reply Kaity

      Wow—what an adventure you’ve had feeding those little ones of yours! You’re amazing, mama. 🙂 I have never heard of UpSpring, but will have to keep it in mind if I have another babe down the road. Those are amazing results! I’m glad you found a booster that works so well for you. 🙂

      July 11, 2017 at 11:37 am
  • Reply Lauren

    Wow – I feel like this article was tailor made for me! I seem to be the only one of my friends with a naturally low supply and they keep saying, “have you tried fenugreek, or “do you have a hospital grade pump.” The answer is yes and yes (since week 2) and I wish those would have solved my problem but they haven’t. These tips were super useful and you ladies also give me hope that things will be at least a little easier with my second! Thanks for writing this!

    July 8, 2017 at 7:29 am
    • Reply Kaity

      You are definitely not alone, Lauren! I felt the same way when talking to my friends who naturally had a higher milk supply and it’s so incredibly stressful. Big hugs, and if you ever need to chat, feel welcome to email me (kaity@withkidsandcoffee.com). 🙂

      July 11, 2017 at 11:31 am
  • Reply Tiffany Daniels

    I have a low supply and I am currently supplementing with donor milk. My biggest tip is when pumping to squeeze your boobs (gently massage is crap for me) and to use is to the letdown mode on your pump a couple times. Once the milk from my first round stops, I put on the letdown mode again and wait a couple minutes for another letdown to happen. I can sometimes get three letdowns in a 20 min session and add 1oz total to my session in the subsequent letdowns.

    July 12, 2017 at 9:04 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      Such great tips, Tiffany! I’ve never had much success with switching back into letdown mode personally (so glad that you found something that worked for you!!), but squeezing your breasts while pumping DEFINITELY worked for me. *Hugs*, mama. 🙂

      July 12, 2017 at 9:29 pm
  • Reply Chaundra

    Great post!!!! Glad to know I’m not alone:)

    August 6, 2017 at 3:29 am
  • Reply Rachel

    Thank you for telling the world that there is such thing as low milk supply naturally! T_T I’m not alone. Im currently mix feeding as you’ve mentioned above, I’m always guessing if my bub gets enough milk from me. Im always afraid that she’s starving. To add to my low milk supply, bub is a sleeper also! Always sleeping while nursing. Will try to follow your advise above. Thankyou!

    August 10, 2017 at 6:46 am
    • Reply Kaity

      *Hugs*, mama. You’re not alone!

      August 10, 2017 at 11:13 am
  • Reply Lucy

    Finally. Thanks for posting. My fourth is two weeks and two days old. Combo feeding; breastfeeding, occasional hand pump expression, and formula. Feeling myself going back and forth on just giving up all together. This is my third attempt at breastfeeding. 🙁 Still going better than the first two tries.

    August 22, 2017 at 6:49 am
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