Iris D. Jones, MA, IBCLC
Milk supply is a topic that is widely discussed. When thinking about milk supply, it is important to take into consideration that there are various aspects of milk supply. The various aspects of milk production can have a direct impact on milk supply. Some aspects of breastfeeding and milk production may increase milk supply, while some may decrease milk supply. Either way, it is important to know what factors of milk production may be fitting for you, your family and your lifestyle.
How to promote/establish healthy milk supply production?
First and foremost, it is important to establish a milk supply. The production of milk typically starts to take place during pregnancy. This tends to occur between the weeks of 16 to 22 weeks of pregnancy. What that means, is that even before you see that copious amount of milk, your body is not only busy being pregnant and growing a human, but creating that first milk, called colostrum.
Colostrum is filled with nutrients, which help to give infants the best start possible at life. It is commonly called “liquid gold,” because of its benefits with gut health, creation of antibodies and overall beneficial nutrients. You can start to establish a healthy milk supply by stimulating your breasts as soon as possible after the birth of your beautiful baby. This can be done of course through latching, hand expression, and/or using a breast pump. Again, whatever works for you, your support system, baby and lifestyle. Of course, this is ultimately dependent on what your goal is with providing breast milk to your baby.
Can I/Should I increase my milk supply?
Again, this depends on what your goals are. If you already have an established milk supply and your milk supply is plentiful and meeting your infant’s needs, then it would be important to note the reason for wanting to boost your supply. To optimally boost milk production, it is imperative to safely increase the supply of your milk, as not to get an oversupply, which could lead to complications such as engorgement or mastitis. When you are aiming for a boost in supply, try the following:
To increase your milk supply, you want to ensure that you are stimulating your breasts at least 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. This can be done in various ways, bringing the infant directly to the breast, use of a breast pump, hand expression, etc. Consequently, just as breast stimulation is important, so is proper latching technique, flange sizing and proper use of the breast pump.
In addition, we all know how hard it is to fit yet another responsibility into our daily tasks. Luckily, at Rumble Tuff, we have Go Cups-Hands Free Collection Cups that come in handy for any mother on the go. They are easy to assemble and clean. This makes it super convenient when working to increase milk supply. Please visit the link below to learn more: https://rumbletuff.com/product/hands-free-go-cups/ .
Let’s also add that some foods/drinks or what is known as “Galactogogues” can be used to promote that healthy boost in milk supply. In conjunction with adding in extra stimulation through direct latching or use of a breast pump, there are various foods that are marketed increasing milk supply. Some of the foods that you may come across include: various types of dishes with oatmeal cooked in them, nut butters, sunflower lecithin, as well as nutritional yeast or protein powders. With that said, Galactogogues (as long as deemed safe by provider(s)), paired with more stimulation does in fact promote that boost in milk supply.
How do I safely decrease my milk supply?
When thinking about implementing a boost in your milk supply, the general rule is that more stimulation of the breast signals the brain to produce more milk. Of course, the opposite is true for decreasing milk supply. It is so important to safely decrease milk supply, so as to avoid instances of mastitis or any other type of breast infection. With that said, this should be done under the guidance of your care provider, and/or a Lactation Consultant.
Some of the best ways to decrease milk supply safely, is to gradually decrease stimulation. So, do not go from feeding the baby and/or breast pumping around the clock to no stimulation at all. Once you have decreased the amount of stimulation, then you want to make it a priority to express enough for relief, not enough to empty; as emptying the breasts signals the body to refill and produce more milk. Using compression, tight fitting clothing/bras, and cold cabbage leaves help, too! You could even try eating/drinking foods or drinks with peppermint or sage in them. Both peppermint and sage aid in decreasing milk supply. According to the Exclusive Pumping page, there is even a tea made by Earth Mama called No More Milk Tea that is packed with nutrients to promote, “anti-milk supply” (Amanda, 2023)
Seek assistance, do not do it alone
One of the most important takeaways from this, is that you should not try to increase or decrease your milk supply alone. It is highly recommended to connect to a Lactation Professional in your area to safely do either one, or even to gain more insight on how to maintain milk supply. We invite you to visit our website and book a consultation with one of our IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants) that we have on staff. https://rumbletuff.com/pumping-appointments/ We can provide proper guidance and insight on the use of our breast pump, as well as assist in helping you locate a Lactation Professional local to you.
How to decrease your Milk Supply. Exclusive Pumping. (2023, September 10). https://exclusivepumping.com/how-to-decrease-your-milk-supply/
You’ve got this. and we’ve got you. RumbleTuff. (n.d.). https://rumbletuff.com/