To increase breast milk production you have to send a message to your body that milk production needs to be increased. You do this by:
- Frequently removing breast milk
- Completely removing breast milk
We covered the first step in this article: Increase Breast Milk With Frequent Removal and we’ll cover the second step here. Once you are frequently removing breast milk, it’s time to focus on completely removing breast milk.
Babies sometimes don’t empty both breasts at every breastfeeding session, so it’s very important to do everything you can to completely remove the milk. Any milk left in the breast communicates to the body that there is an over supply of milk and production needs to be decreased. While milk that is frequently and completely removed communicates to the body that it needs to increase breast milk production. When trying to increase milk supply, be sure to always remove all the milk. Here’s how:
Heat ‘em Up
Milk flows out of warm breasts more easily, so 5 minutes before breastfeeding or pumping, warm the breast with a heat pack or hot wash cloth. It should feel quite warm, but not so hot that it’s uncomfortable.
Alternatively one fun, relaxing method is to take a warm bath. If you can, give yourself 20 minutes in the bath soaking as deeply as you can with your breasts submerged in the water (if you don’t have a deep enough tub for this, laying on your tummy may get your breasts more in the warm water). Have daddy bring baby to you (you should always get in the tub first, and have someone hand you baby once you are settled – when getting out be sure to pass baby off to someone outside the tub, before you stand up) and then breastfeed baby in the tub. Most mommies and babies find this to be a delightful relaxing time together, where the milk really flows. Of note this is also a great technique for unplugging a plugged milk duct!
Demand A Proper Latch
To increase breast milk production, it is essential to ensure that baby has a proper latch and maintains a proper latch throughout the ENTIRE nursing session. Anytime you feel that baby may not be latched perfectly – remove baby from the breast and re-latch and continue to do so until you get a good latch. My second baby had such a tiny mouth that I had to work with her about ten minutes each time we nursed to get a proper latch. See our article for instructions on proper latch techniques. A trained Lactation Consultant can be very helpful in making sure baby’s latch is perfect. With all the nursing and pumping you’ll be doing, a proper latch is vital to your nipple health.
Allow Baby To Finish Each Breast
Forget any advice about limiting breastfeeding to a certain number of minutes and then switching to the other side. Doing so can reduce the amount of milk being removed, thereby reducing the amount of milk being made. You want to increase breast milk so instead, allow your baby to continue to breastfeed for as long as he is actively sucking and swallowing. Watch for baby to switch to comfort sucking. This is your indicator that the breast is now empty and that you should de-latch baby, burp him and switch to the other side. Alternate which breast you start with for each feeding.
Compress For Success
When pumping or breastfeeding you can remove more milk by compressing the breast. One study looked at the effect of combining breast compressions with pumping. When not using hand compressions the women in the study generated on average 87 grams of breast milk from pumping. With hand compressions, those same women generated on average 125 grams of breast milk! And remember, the more milk you remove, the more milk your body will see the need to increase breast milk production. Begin this technique at your next breastfeeding or pumping session. Here’s how:
Watch for baby’s swallowing to slow down or the milk to slow down for the pump. When this happens compress the breast from the top and bottom with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other. Start back by the chest wall and slowly move forward, toward the nipple. Apply firm pressure that doesn’t hurt and hold for 10 seconds. Release and compress again, slightly changing your hand position to compress a different area of the breast. Continue this pattern until you’ve rotated all the way around the breast.
If there are any lumpy areas be sure to focus on them, because they are likely pockets of stored breast milk. Continue to compress and firmly stroke any lumpy areas toward the nipple for a couple of minutes or until the lump is gone. Breast compressions is a terrific way to increase breast milk production!
Demand More Milk By Pumping After Every Nursing
Breastfeed for as long as baby is actively sucking and swallowing. Once he’s finished and de-latches or switches to comfort nursing, take him off the breast and pump for at least 10 minutes, or until the milk stops flowing – whichever comes later. Do not stop pumping because milk is not flowing. This is a key point that many women miss: The amount of breast milk you are getting from this pumping session does not matter. Your baby has already removed the majority of the milk.
Do not feel frustrated, or like it is a waste of time. It is essential to communicate to your body that you want to increase breast milk production and the only way to do that is to continue stimulating your breasts after baby has nursed, otherwise your body has no way of knowing that it is not mak- ing enough milk.
If baby does a lot of “comfort nursing” where he is not actively sucking and swallowing, you may find it necessary to limit his time at the breast to just actively nursing, so that you have enough time for yourself to be able to pump afterward and not feel like breastfeeding and pumping has become a full time job.
If you’re experiencing nipple pain or are just getting sick of all the pumping, take a day or two where you pump after every other nursing. You can also use a lanolin nipple ointment to lubricate your nipples before pumping which can reduce any friction and help pumping to be more comfortable.