Care Plan: How to Increase Your Milk Supply
If your baby isn't getting enough at your breast, you can solve the situation. If you follow a plan of supplementing and pumping after each feeding, your overall milk supply will increase along with your milk flow, which is often causing the problem.
How do I increase my Milk Supply?
- Breastfeed your baby at the start of each feeding. Work on securing a good latch, making sure her lower lip is planted far from the nipple and pulling her on deeply.
- Check that she's feeding effectively by swallowing regularly. When she slows down, try breast compression to increase milk flow. You can also do some switch-nursing ("4 breasts" per feeding is a good rule of thumb).
- Limit the time at your breasts to a total of 25 minutes—not 25 minutes per breast. This may seem backward because you're trying to fill your baby up, but newborns often start to slow down after the first 15 to 20 minutes of feeding.
- If you need to, finish the feeding with a bottle of expressed breast milk or formula. Offer your baby as much as she wants and note how much she takes.
- Right after your baby finishes feeding, double pump both breasts at same time for 15 minutes. You should pump within 10 minutes of finishing feeding to signal to your breasts that they're being fully drained. Start the pump on minimum but move it to maximum as soon as you comfortably can.
- Note what you yield from every pumping session.
- Use the pumped milk to supplement the next feeding, plus formula, if needed.
- You might want to take a feeding or two a day or night and just pump and bottle feed without offering a breast at all, especially if your baby is taking lots of supplementation after each feeding. Make sure you pump thoroughly in place of that feeding.
There's no set timeline for this plan, since every mother and baby is different. You might need to do this for two or three days or for a week or two; two weeks is the maximum time, however. The goal is for your baby to take a full feeding from your breast each time.
In the beginning, this plan might seem like a lot of work, but you'll soon realize it's more efficient than when you were struggling to fill up your baby. The 25 to 30 minutes for each feeding, plus the 15 for pumping, will probably take less time than when you were struggling to feed your baby. And the best part? You'll know your baby is full and won't wake up 20 minutes later wanting to feed again.
Read on for more information on why this will increase your milk supply, and how long to follow this Care Plan to increase your milk supply.
Tips for success
- Keep a log of how much supplementation your baby took and how much milk you pumped. This will help you track the progression.
- Try to use a hospital-grade double model in order to pump faster. Many hospitals have a pump-rental program.
- Don't be discouraged if your baby takes a lot of supplementation at the beginning of this plan. It might take you longer than a few days to increase your milk supply, but rest assured that you are fixing the problem.
Source: Heather Kelly is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) who also sits on the Bravado Breastfeeding Information Council Heather has been practicing in New York City since 2001.