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Newborn (0-12 months)

Breastfeeding Tips: How to Increase Milk Supply

Written by: Biostime Nutrition

New mothers learning to breastfeed can often worry about their milk supply. Despite numerous feeds and a seemingly content baby, the anxiety can often cause mother’s to think that they don’t produce enough milk. While most mother’s milk supply will be enough to keep their baby happy, some mothers may struggle to maintain an adequate milk supply.

 If your breast milk is low, then there are a few things you can do to help increase milk supply. From lowering your stress levels to supplementation, with the right support low breast milk supply can often be a temporary issue. Let’s take a look at how it works, low milk supply signs and tips to increase milk supply. 

What causes low breast milk supply? 

Breastfeeding works on a supply-and-demand basis. This means that the more milk is removed from your breasts, either by expressing or breastfeeding, the more milk your body will produce to meet the demand1. There can be a number of different reasons for low milk supply2. Some of the most common causes of low supply include:

  • Poor latching: If your baby isn’t latching on to your nipple properly, it makes it difficult for them to drain your breast effectively, which can result in decreased milk supply. A poor latch can also cause nipple pain as well as cracked and bleeding nipples, so you’ll usually be able to tell if your baby doesn’t have a good latch. 
  • Infrequent nursing: Adequate removal of milk from the breasts is key for stimulating sufficient milk production. If your baby isn’t nursing frequently or effectively, it can signal the body to produce less milk. As a general rule, most newborn babies need to feed between 8-12 times within a 24-hour period3.
  • Scheduled feeds: While it can be tempting to try and stick to a feeding routine, many health professionals recommend feeding your baby on demand instead4. Babies are often able to signal when they're hungry and responding promptly may help maintain milk supply.
  • Supplementing with formula: Introducing formula supplements alongside breastfeeding can decrease the demand for breast milk and lead to a reduced milk supply.
  • Use of dummies or nipple shields: While dummies can be soothing for many babies, they may actually decrease the amount of time babies spend breastfeeding, especially in the first few weeks5. Similarly, nipple shields can affect how much milk your baby can drink during a feed, especially older types made from hard plastic or a thick rubber6.
  • Medical conditions: Although it’s uncommon, certain medical conditions, like hormonal disorders, thyroid problems and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can have an impact on milk production.

Signs your milk supply is decreasing

If you’re worried your body isn’t producing enough milk, there are a few telltale signs to look out for:

  • Poor weight gain: While it’s common for your baby to lose a little weight in the first week or so after birth, if they’re not steadily gaining weight after the first couple of weeks it could be a sign that you’re not producing enough breast milk.
  • Dehydration: Your baby receives hydration through breast milk, so an insufficient supply can lead to dehydration7. Dark, smelly urine, fewer wet nappies than usual, a dry mouth, sunken eyes or fewer tears are all signs of dehydration8.
  • Not enough soaked or dirty nappies: In those first few weeks, the number of wet or dirty nappies your baby produces each day is a good indicator of whether they’re getting enough milk. Exclusively breastfed babies should produce at least 6 wet cloth nappies or 5 very wet disposables each day3

What helps milk supply?

Galactagogues are substances, (herbs, foods or medications) that may help to increase breast milk supply9. Galactagogues work by increasing the level of prolactin in the body, a hormone that plays a key role in milk production9

While it’s important to make sure your baby gets a good feed, it’s also essential to support your own health and wellbeing by staying hydrated and eating a healthy, well balanced diet that includes foods known to increase breast milk supply. Making breast milk is thirsty work, so it’s important to make sure you increase your water intake during this time10. Breastfeeding mums can be deficient in iodine, iron and calcium, so talking to your health care professional about taking additional nutrients to support your needs during this time is a good idea. 

How to increase breast milk supply?

If you’re looking to increase your breast milk supply11, you might want to try: 

  • Frequent feeding: By regularly emptying your breasts, your body will naturally increase milk production to meet the demand.
  • Expressing: Expressing after each feed helps to stimulate your breasts and ensure they’re well drained.
  • Avoiding stress: Relaxation is key to breastfeeding. If you’re feeling stressed, try practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation or yoga.
  • Skin-to-skin contact: Close contact with your baby helps to release oxytocin, the hormone that promotes the ‘let down’ or the flow of milk to the baby12.
  • Breast massages: Compressing or massaging your breasts during breastfeeding can help with milk flow and proper drainage.
  • Switch feeding: Switch your baby to the other breast once they’ve drained the first one.
  • Resting: While it’s easier said than done, try to get as much rest as possible to support your energy levels and milk production.

It’s important to remember that breastfeeding can be challenging for a lot of mums. If you think your supply is low, it’s always best to talk to a lactation consultant, child health nurse or doctor.


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  4. Sharp K. Book Review: Evidence for the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Journal of Human Lactation. 1999 Mar;15(1):69–70.
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  8. Colleen,de Bellefonds. Spotting and Preventing Dehydration in Babies [Internet]. What to Expect. WhattoExpect; 2014. Available from:
  9. Sim T F, Hattingh H. L, Sheriff J, Tee L. The Use, Perceived Effectiveness and Safety of Herbal Galactagogues During Breastfeeding: A Qualitative Study
    International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health [Internet]. 2015 September. Available from:
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Biostime Nutrition - Author

Newborn (0-12 months)