FREE Parent's Help Line
Tresillian - It's in our nature to nurture
Newborn Breastfeeding Increasing your breastmilk supply

How to increase breast milk supply

The best way to increase your breast milk supply is to increase the number of times you feed your baby and drain your breasts of milk. The more milk that is removed, the more breastmilk is produced.

Getting the right positioning and attachment is important for breast drainage and will also increase your breast milk supply.

There are many ways to increase your breastmilk supply. 

Tips to naturally increase breast milk supply

Here we look at some common reasons why breast milk supply has reduced and some tips to help increase it again. 

Breast milk issues related to feeding

Your baby only feeds for short periods

Try to encourage your baby to stay longer at each breast or re-offer the first breast.

Your baby falls asleep at the breast before they finish a feed

Take baby off the breast and try to wake up by changing their nappy, or giving them a short break to burp.

The other option is to leave your baby for a short period of time to rest then wake and reoffer your breast to them.

Your baby is going for long periods between feeds

Reduce the time between feeds for a couple of days by offering the breast more frequently.

You're giving your baby extra top-up feeds with formula milk

Unless advised by your doctor, slowly stop these extra feeds and increase the number of breastfeeds to meet your baby’s needs.

You introduced your baby to solid foods too early (before six months)

Return to offering breastfeeds only until six months. If your baby is over six months breastfeed before offering your baby their solid foods.

Your baby is unwell

If your baby is unwell, this may be impacting on their ability to suck vigorously and stay awake to gain adequate nutrition.

You may need to provide them with shorter but more frequent feeds until they are healthy again.

Don't wait - if your baby remains unwell make an appointment to see your local doctor.

You're offering a dummy or pacifier to extend the periods between feeds

Feed your baby more frequent feeds rather than using the dummy or pacifier to delay feeds.

Breast milk issues related to the mother

Your nipples are sore or tender

Check if your baby is well positioned on the breast (you might need to have some specialist breastfeeding advice for this).

If your baby is not well positioned, they may not be able to stimulate a let down or effectively drain your breasts.

You get anxious or upset every time you have to breastfeed your baby

If you are feeling anxious and upset this may be impacting on the let down reflex that allows the free flow of your breastmilk. If this is happening you may need to seek some assistance from your child and family health nurse or a lactation consultant.

Before each feed take a few moments to do a short relaxation exercise.

You're smoking

Smoking can reduce your breastmilk production. Consider going onto a Quit program or reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke each day.

Ask for support from your doctor or child and family health nurse.

You're unwell or overly tired

It might be time to see your local doctor about this, especially if it’s impacting on your wellbeing and/or your breastmilk supply. In the meantime you can improve your diet – make sure you are eating healthy, nutritious food and drinking plenty of water.

Try and increase the amount of rest you are having by having a sleep during the day, even a short period can be helpful.

Ask for and accept help from family and friends with household tasks.

Have some time out and do something that you enjoy to help you relax.

You're taking medication either prescribed, over-the-counter, recreational or natural/herbal remedies?

Either discuss the safety of these medications with the person who prescribed them or talk to your local pharmacist for advice.

Recreational drugs can also have a negative impact on your milk supply, your health and your baby’s health and safety.

You're having a change in your hormones?

This may be due to menstruation re-commencing, you may be ovulating again, you may have recently started a new contraceptive or you could be pregnant.

In most instances (unless you are pregnant) the impact is short-lived and the taste of your breastmilk and baby’s behaviour will return to normal in a couple of days.

If you are pregnant you can still continue to breastfeed.

Can stress impact on milk supply?

Some breastfeeding mothers find they just don’t seem to have a good milk supply. Stress and being overtired can have a big impact so try and increase the amount of rest you’re getting and look at ways of improving your diet.

Avoid giving baby extra top-up feeds with formula milk as this can diminish supply. Speak to your local child and family health Nurse or GP about the best options for your family.

Other ways to boost milk supply

  • Feed according to your baby's need, rather than a schedule. Sometimes your baby will feed every few hours, other times they might want to feed more regularly particularly if they need to cluster feed in the afternoons or evenings. Newborns in the first few weeks might feed 8-12 times over a 24 hour period. 
  • Make sure you get enough rest. Often in the evening your supply is a bit less because you've had a busy day. Sit down and put your feet up when you can. 
  • Offer both breasts, particularly in the evening when your supply is less. Sometimes your baby will only want to drink from one breast but other times they will want two so always offer both. 
  • Compress or massage your breasts as you're feeding to help with drainage. 
  • Sometimes GPs can prescribe medication to help with milk supply. 

Foods to increase your milk supply

The most important foods to increase your milk supply is a healthy diet packed with vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables, protein from meat or meat alternatives, grain foods and dairy or dairy alternatives. 

Make sure you take the time to sit down and eat proper meals during the day. If you're struggling, ask for help from your partner, friends and family. When you're holding a baby all day, it's helpful to have an easy meal to heat up so you know you're getting enough nutrition. 

Hydration is equally important for boosting milk supply. Breastfeeding can make you thirsty so make sure you have a bottle of water nearby when you're feeding. 

FAQs about breast milk supply

There are many benefits to breastfeeding. We know that breastfeeding can help provide protection against infections and reduces the risk of your baby developing allergies. Babies that are breastfed have less incidence of childhood obesity. Breastfeeding can also help you return to pre-pregnancy weight.

But the most important thing is breastfeeding provides an opportunity to bond. Learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding.

Yes! All Tresillian staff are committed to supporting breastfeeding if this is your chosen method of feeding your baby. We provide breastfeeding encouragement, education and support if you're trying to overcome difficulties with breastfeeding.
However, if you decide to wean, this will be respected and supported. Regardless of the method you choose, we believe that infant feeding is an important and pleasurable shared experience for both you and your baby.

It could be many reasons. Some reasons include:

They could be unwell. 

Medication, pregnancy or mastitis can change the taste of breast milk. 

You may smell different, have you change anything like perfume or soap?

If your baby is well, it could be they are more efficient at feeding and are feeding in a quicker time.

If they aren't hungry when you're offering feed, you may need to tune into their cues around feeding. Are they more fussy than refusing? Has the number of wet nappies changed? Is the urine pale as normal or dark and smelly? That can be a sign they aren’t getting enough breast milk. 

If you're struggling with supply issues, you can talk to 

  • Your local Child and Family Health Nurse
  • Tresillian free help line on 1300 272 736
  • Australian Breastfeeding Association on 1800 686 268
  • Your GP 
Download Tip Sheet