Looking to increase your milk supply and keep it up? Nursing your baby can be a beautiful and amazing thing. It can also be one of the most frustrating and emotionally draining experiences, especially if your baby is struggling to gain weight.
If you’re worried about the quality and quantity of your milk supply, these 8, all natural galactagogues (milk-boosters) might be just the thing to increase your milk supply and keep it up. These natural remedies will increase your milk supply fast!
Below you’ll find my struggle with low supply while trying to feed both of my babies. Next, there’s some resources for pumping and seeing a specialist.
Then, you’ll find the 8 natural remedies that increased my supply so that I could exclusively breastfeed my second daughter and how I work them into my diet every day without feeling overwhelmed.
You’re already tired as a new mom. Add to that being emotionally exhausted if you’ve been struggling to feed that cute little piranha. You need easy ways to put get those milk-maker foods into your day!
My Struggle with Low Supply
Hello, Mom Guilt!
I’m not a great milk maker naturally. This has been such an emotional and challenging aspect of my mom journey.
Thanks, mom guilt, for showing up within the first week of my parenting journey.
It started with my first little princess. Becoming a mom is an incredible and amazing experience, but we struggled from the beginning.
I remember feeling completely overwhelmed and struggling with mom guilt because I couldn’t make enough milk to keep my hungry and noisy little girl happy. She had a really hard time gaining weight, and she wanted to nurse every 90 minutes. I still tear up when I look at how scrawny she was in her one month pictures.
I felt awful, defeated, and like a terrible mother.
Ultimately, I did nurse her for one year, but after the first month, we supplemented every feeding with formula. And I was never able to stop the supplementation because my supply was never enough.
Little princess #2 arrived a couple of months ago, and I was determined to do everything I could to improve my supply this time. This sweet baby also struggled with weight gain, and we went through 10 stressful days with 4 doctors visits and absolutely no weight gain.
The baby ended up slipping into ketosis, or using her own tiny fat stores for fuel. She didn’t get dips in her insulin levels to tell her to get hungry and wake up, so she was super sleepy all the time. It made feeding her nearly impossible since she wasn’t awake enough to nurse well.
A Crazy Nursing/Pumping Schedule to Increase Your Milk Supply
I did go see the lactation specialist to have baby’s latch evaluated. We followed a crazy schedule for 10 days of nursing for 20 minutes a side, offering baby a 2 ounce bottle of formula/pumped milk, and then pumping for 15 minutes every two hours.
Every. Two. Hours.
It was exhausting and completely unsustainable for the long haul. We could only do this because we had family come and stay with us for a little while; otherwise no one would have eaten in my house!
I’m not advocating that you need that crazy routine, but there are some interesting pumping techniques out there that may boost supply.
This power pumping routine can be a great resource if you want to try any nursing and pumping schedules to increase your milk supply. You might want to try it to boost your supply initially, but please be careful not to wear yourself out!!!!
Also, if you don’t have a pump, check with your insurance carrier to see if one is covered under your health insurance benefits. I got my Medela pump for free that way!
Consider Seeing a Lactation Consultant
They can evaluate latch issues, do a weighted feed (weighing baby before and after nursing to evaluate milk transfer), and more. You can find a board certified lactation consultant near you through the IBCLC.
If possible, find one with a personality that meshes well with your own and teaches in a way compatible with how you learn. This made a huge difference for me!
Breastfeeding (and struggling to breastfeed) is already an emotionally charged issue. Please don’t make it even harder on yourself by working with a lactation consultant who makes you feel bad, guilty, or all around worse about what’s going on.
You got this, lil Momma!!
You probably don’t need the crazy nursing and pumping schedule that I did. It was specific for my little one’s needs because she wasn’t waking up to eat. A consult with your own lactation specialist may be just what you need for your situation, too. Best $40 I ever spent!
If you’d rather learn from the comfort of your own home, this course by Milkology is absolutely amazing!! It takes just 90 minutes to complete (I need speedy lessons when caring for a newborn!) and it’ll help set you up for breastfeeding success!
Check for Anemia
A quick note on amenia– it may be harder for your body to produce milk if you’re anemic. It’s normal to bleed with delivery of your baby, but some women may find that they need to take iron supplements to increase their levels and improve their milk supply.
Please discuss this with your doctor if you’re concerned.
8 Natural Ways to Increase Your Milk Supply
Some of my friends stepped in and blessed me with some nursing care packages with these natural ways to increase milk supply. That’s when I stumbled upon these 8 ways to naturally boost my supply.
I also developed a simple dietary routine to incorporate them into my day. It seems to make a huge difference in increasing my milk supply, especially for those evening/nighttime cluster feeds.
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While the exact mechanism of action (how it works) of fenugreek is unknown, it has been used for thousands of years to stimulate and sustain milk production for nursing moms. Fenugreek seems to increase sweat production. Since the mammary, or milk-maker, glands function in the same manner as sweat glands, fenugreek increases the production of milk in the same way. Fenugreek is a member of the pea family, and it also contains some phytoestrogens called diosgenin and yamogenin.
As a little warning– given its mechanism of action, you might find that you sweat a bit more, too! Lol, you’ve been given fair warning that you might need to change your sweaty sheets more often and/or invest in some stronger deodorant.
Additional warning– please don’t take fenugreek if you’re pregnant! It has been shown to cause birth defects in pregnant rats, so I wouldn’t risk it.
Fenugreek is commonly found in small amounts in teas that support milk supply. You can also buy it in capsule form in much larger doses. The typical advice with fenugreek capsules is to cut back on your dose if you start to smell like maple syrup. I found that even one capsule taken 2-3 times a day was plenty to see an increase in supply.
2. Brewer’s Yeast
Have you heard of dark beers increasing your milk supply? That’s based on the high amounts of brewer’s yeast that they contain. Scientific studies are lacking on the effects of brewer’s yeast on breast milk, and the mechanism of action is unknown. But, that hasn’t stopped people from putting it in almost every lactation cookie recipe…. so it’s working for someone! 😉
Brewer’s yeast is also packed full of B vitamins, which can help with energy production. Increased energy is a new mommy’s BFF!
As with any health supplement, it only works if you take it! I have found that brewer’s yeast can be incredibly bitter, so finding one that you can tolerate makes a HUGE difference! So far, this is my absolute favorite one, and I don’t mind a full tablespoon of it in my oatmeal (lol, but not a drop more or it’s too bitter!):
You can also take brewer’s yeast in capsule form, but for me, I feel like the powder kicks in faster.
3. Flax Seeds
This fabulous little seed is fantastic at increasing supply. It’s also full of omega-3 fatty acids that are great for your lil nursling. Like fenugreek, flax seeds contain phytoestrogens, which can boost and improve milk supply.
The original Trim Healthy Mama book has a delicious flax seed muffin recipe made of flour from ground up golden flax seeds. Along with the coconut oil, it should be great for milk supply! You can also check out that recipe here.
There’s no research studies to back this up, but women have been recommending oats for milk supply for decades. I’ve got some theories on why it helps, and milk supply tends to improve when mamas have healthy carbs in their diets. Oats are a great source of slow-burning carbohydrates, and they’re also high in iron.
There seems to be a correlation between maternal anemia, or low iron levels, and low milk supply. Thus, eating oatmeal often may help to correct the anemia and boost milk supply.
And if you’re super anemic, my favorite foods to add are kale chips, steak, and baobab powder (lol, usually not at the same time). They’re great sources of iron, and the kale chips and baobab powder also contain vitamin C, which helps your body to absorb the iron better.
If you’re short on time and not following the Trim Healthy Mama diet plan, then I highly recommend this delicious blueberry and cranberry oatmeal. I love the convenient little packages!
5. Chia Seeds
Like its buddy the flax seeds, chia seeds can also be great for your supply. They’re full of omega 3 fatty acids to help baby’s brain and eye development, and I’ve heard from several moms that they’re fantastic for increasing the quantity of breastmilk.
Once again, there’s no studies to prove that chia seeds work, but they can be a great addition to your lactation list if you haven’t tried them yet! Chia seeds are also full of antioxidants, fiber, iron, and calcium, so they’re great for your overall health.
6. MCT Oil
These medium chain triglycerides, or MCT oil, are extracted from coconut oil, and they transfer easily into breastmilk. They’ve been shown to increase the fat content of milk by 18% in just 14 hours! It’s a fast track way to chunk up your baby.
When you struggle with low supply, it can help to make sure that the milk the baby is getting is rich and fatty. Even if the quantity is a bit low, baby should be able to gain better with richer, creamier milk.
Bonus for mama– MCT oil can give you a quick burst of energy from its easily absorbed calories. Additionally, it can be quite good at… errr… moving things along in your intestines, which is especially good if you’ve had any tearing associated with your delivery. You might find that you don’t even need a stool softener!
7. Sunflower Lecithin
Like the MCT oil above, sunflower lecithin is more for the quality of your milk than specifically increasing your milk supply itself. But it can be great for helping baby to gain weight!
Sunflower lecithin is an emulsifier, so it helps to break down fat globules into smaller pieces so that it slides out easier. It’s been suggested that it helps to mix the watery foremilk with the fattier hindmilk, which means that baby gets more fat faster when nursing.
Additional bonus– sunflower lecithin may decrease your risk of clogged ducts! I’ve heard that this is more effective when you take it in capsule form.
8. Coconut Water
Have you heard of Gatorade or Powerade to help increase your milk supply? Coconut water is an ideal, all-natural alternative to those sugar-laden drinks.
Coconut water is packed with electrolytes and some naturally occurring sugar, which can quickly increase the amount of milk that you make. Because of the rich electrolyte profile, it can also hydrate you and nourish your cells. It’s a great complement to all the water that you should be drinking (hint hint, wink wink).
Also, if you’re taking Fenugreek and notice that you get that additional side effect of increased sweat, then coconut water can help! It can aid in replacing the salt that you’ve lost from sweat. I find it especially helpful and refreshing to drink it when I wake up for nighttime feedings.
A couple of side notes:
Please remember to drink plenty of water! Most lactation specialists advise that you “drink to thirst,” or just drink whenever you feel thirsty. I don’t think I drink enough to keep my supply up when I do this.
I found it way more helpful to do these two things:
- Fill a gallon container every morning and keep it in the fridge. Working on drinking the whole thing every 24 hours helps me to remember to drink, even though I don’t usually finish the whole gallon every day. Depending on your size and body chemistry, you may not need the whole thing. You don’t want to end up with hyponatremia (low sodium levels in the blood) because you diluted your electrolyte levels by drinking too much water (rare but it can happen).
- At night, put ice cubes in a large thermal cup and then add water, and keep it within easy reach of your bed. This will keep your water nice and cold most of the night as the ice melts. It was so refreshing to drink cold water whenever you wake up at night.
2. Milk Maker Tea
There are several different teas that may boost your supply. They usually contain a variety of herbs that are touted to increase supply.
Personally, I had some success with this Mother’s Milk Tea.
I’ve also had friends who noticed an increase in their milk supply with Red Zinger tea. I didn’t really see a difference, but I love the fruity flavor!
3. For My Trim Healthy Mama Friends
If you’re following the Trim Healthy Mama diet, please drink coconut water with a meal or snack. There are healthy carbs in it from the naturally occurring sugars, so depending on your serving size, it falls into the E category.
A Daily Menu to Increase Your Milk Supply
Caring for a newborn is tiring work, so an easy dietary routine that incorporates the 8 galactologues can be a helpful way to increase your milk supply.
For me, the most important times to include milk-boosting foods have been at breakfast, afternoon snack, and dinner. This seems to have made the biggest impact in increasing my supply.
In general, I follow the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating. It’s been a great diet for me to support a healthy weight at lots of different stages of my life, including during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
My Milk-Makin’ Menu
I love, love, love my morning coffee (lol, and my afternoon coffee isn’t so bad, either!). That jolt of caffeine helps pick me up after a busy night of nursing, but I especially love the galactalogues that I can sneak into it!
Every morning, I make sure to add Sunflower Lecithin and MCT Oil to my daily java. I also take one Fenugreek capsule with breakfast.
I usually add a few more things to make a Trimmacino Rich from the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook. It’s a yummy cappuccino style drink and a low carb, THM S beverage.
Here’s my typical, week day breakfast. On the weekends, we like to have a quiche or some easy Overnight Stuffed French Toast (with extra cream cheese and homemade, stevia-sweetened whipped cream on top for a THM Crossover).
- Eggs with cheese, bacon, nonstarchy veggies and 1-2 slices of toast (THM S Helper or Crossover, or XO)
- Oatmeal with blueberries, 1 slice of sprouted toast topped with coconut oil and a dash of salt (THM XO since I pair it with the Trimmy Rich)
Lunch is usually dinner leftovers from the night before. It usually contains complex carbohydrates, protein, and some healthy fats.
It’s also a great time to take another capsule of Fenugreek.
Drink plenty of water, too!
This has been huge in getting my body ready for evening and nighttime nursing! My little one usually eats every 2.5-3 hours during the day and every 2 hours or less from 5-9pm.
This specific afternoon snack makes such a difference for me! I can totally tell that my supply is lower on days that I don’t have it.
Make yourself a cup of herbal or lactation tea while you combine this:
- 1/3 cup instant, steel cut oats
- 2/3 cup of water
- 1 Tbl golden flax seeds
- 1 Tbl chia seeds
- 1 Tbl brewer’s yeast (or a little less if it’s too bitter tasting)
- 1/4 tsp sunflower lecithin
- 1 Tbl coconut oil or MCT oil
- Stevia or honey to taste
Microwave all for 1 minute, stir, and microwave for another minute, then let it sit for 1-2 mintues. I usually add some cream or half and half.
I also like to add blueberries or raspberries and walnuts for antioxidants and protein.
It make it even easier, consider making your own oatmeal packets once a week. You can measure out all the dry ingredients in advance, and then when you’re ready to use them, just pour them into a deep bowl and add the wet ingredients.
I have found that I need to have protein, veggies, and some healthy carbs to have enough milk after dinner. It’s also a great time for another Fenugreek capsule if you need it!
I cannot have a low carb/keto dinner (for THM, no straight S meal). My supply tanked, and my baby was super unhappy!
I usually have a healthy dessert at bedtime like peanut butter fudge (more coconut oil to get those medium chain triglycerides in).
Nighttime Nursing Snack
This is when I drink 1/3-1/2 cup of coconut water. It’s so refreshing in the middle of the night, especially if Fenugreek makes you sweat while you sleep!
I also have a little protein and some complex carbs, like peanuts or a cheese stick and Wasa crackers or oatmeal muffins.
Some Thoughts on Lactation Cookies
There are definitely some delicious lactation cookie recipes floating around out there that include some of these 8 milk boosters. My favorite one is this healthy one from Are They All Yours?
The irony is that I need to increase my supply to nurse better… but I can’t find the time to make the cookies because I’m always nursing (or trying to catch a nap)! Lol, does this happen to anyone else?!
For those days, a batch of no-bake lactation bites might help. When I’m really crunched for time, I don’t even roll them into balls! I just store them in the fridge and eat a large spoonful or two throughout the day!
Increase Your Milk Supply
Those 8 things and that daily menu have made a huge difference in my supply, and I hope that some of those things can make a difference for you, too!
Most importantly, you’re doing a great job, Momma, and you and your baby are doing beautifully!! Enjoy this crazy, hectic, sweet, snuggly season!
What has helped your milk supply the most?