I’ve got milk supply problems, now what?
January 20, 2015
You're worried that you might have low milk supply. What do you do now?*
First, make sure that supply is really the issue. Since there are many things that can make your supply seem low when it isn't, it's important to figure out if supply is really the problem.
In The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk, Diana West and Lisa Marasco explain the “milk supply equation” to explain what's necessary to make enough milk. A lactation consultant can help you figure out which of the parts of this equation might be causing you to not produce enough milk.
Milk Supply Equation - Copyright © Lisa Marasco
Sufficient lactation tissue
+ Intact nerve pathways and ducts
+ Adequate hormones and hormone receptors
+ Adequately frequent, effective milk removal and stimulation
= Good milk production
Third, take action to increase your supply, enlisting the support of a lactation consultant as necessary. According to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine,** this usually means starting with improving the effectiveness of breastfeeding. So start with making sure you are addressing these basics:
- Frequent feeding (at least 8-12 times in 24 hours)
- Unrestricted feeding (on cue, with no predetermined time limits)
- Optimal latch (one that allows for maximum milk removal and no pain to the mother)
Then, if necessary, move on to these physical measures to increase your milk supply, as recommended in The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk:
- Increasing the number of feedings
- Breast compression
- Pumping after feedings
- Skin-to-skin contact
- Milk ejection stimulation
If you've tried these measures and still need more help, consider a galactagogue (a supplement which supports milk supply) such as the ones we make here at Motherlove Herbal Company. For our supplements we use only certified organic herbs, which means they are produced without pesticides or toxins, and are free of GMOs.
Motherlove makes many supplements for you to choose from. So, which one is right for you?
More Milk Plus is Motherlove’s most popular product. It contains fenugreek, blessed thistle, nettle, and fennel seed. Fenugreek is the herb most recommended by lactation consultants for increasing breast milk supply; this combination helps most women support their supply within 24-48 hours. Available in a grain alcohol or alcohol-free liquid extract; and as a liquid extract concentrate in vegetarian capsules. Not for use during pregnancy.
More Milk Special Blend contains the herbs in More Milk Plus blended with goat’s rue, an herb that helps to build mammary tissue. Specially-formulated at the request of lactation consultants, this product can help support breast milk supply for women who have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), did not see an increase in breast size during pregnancy, have had previous breast surgeries, or for adoptive mothers. Available in a grain alcohol or alcohol-free liquid extract and as a liquid extract concentrate in vegetarian capsules. Not for use during pregnancy.
More Milk has blessed thistle, nettle and fennel but does not contain fenugreek for those who may be sensitive to its potential side effects (usually gastric upset that may occur in either mother or baby). Not for use during pregnancy.
More Milk Two contains raspberry leaf, nettle and alfalfa - a nourishing combination of herbs that is specially formulated to safely support the breast milk supply of pregnant breastfeeding mothers. Alcohol-free and safe for use during pregnancy.
Goat’s Rue This herb helps support breast milk by stimulating the development of mammary tissue; allowing adoptive mothers to successfully breastfeed, as well as women who have had breast surgery. It is also helpful for women who did not see an increase in their breast size during pregnancy. Available in a grain alcohol base, and as a liquid extract concentrate in vegetarian capsules. Discuss product use with a healthcare professional before using during pregnancy.
Fenugreek This single herb extract is most recommended by lactation consultants to quickly help support breast milk supply. Available in an alcohol-free liquid extract. Not for use during pregnancy.
Malunggay NEW Known as the “miracle tree”, this single herb extract is widely recognized for its nutritional benefits. It has been used for generations by breastfeeding women to help support breast milk supply. Discuss product use with a healthcare professional before using during pregnancy.
Shatavari NEW A rejuvenating Ayurvedic single herb extract that helps to balance the female hormonal system. Known for its phytoestrogen properties, this herb can help with a variety of issues including menopause, increased fertility and breast milk production. Discuss product use with a healthcare professional before using during pregnancy.
We've been writing and podcasting about low milk supply quite a bit on the Motherlove blog, and hope you find these resources useful as you work to build your supply!
- PCOS and breastfeeding, an interview with Lisa Marasco
- Want to start breastfeeding after stopping? Our guide to relactation.
- Liquid vs. capsule? Alcohol free? Tincture vs. tea? Common questions about our products to increase milk supply
- Achoo! Will that allergy medicine hurt your milk supply?
- How do I take Motherlove products to increase my milk supply?
- Questions about fenugreek for low milk supply?
- How the herbs in More Milk Plus complement each other
- Could that green smoothie be reducing your milk supply?
- Using goat's rue to increase milk supply
- Low milk supply - could it be your hormones?
- When the “Booby Fairy” doesn't arrive - breastfeeding with insufficient glandular tissue
- Herbs to increase your milk supply (with Motherlove founder Kathryn Higgins)
- Worried about breastfeeding the second time around?
- Breast surgeries and breastfeeding
* This post is intended as educational content, not as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for medical care related to this issue.
** These recommendations are intended for healthy, preterm infants who are feeding at the breast. For other infants see the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol.