Often, the reason for weaning is low milk supply or the concern around it. But increasing breast milk naturally can often be easier than most moms would imagine. In most cases, it all basically works on one main principle, supply, and demand.
When I used to express or when I was breastfeeding my boys I used to imagine that my brain was stocktaking the amount of milk that had been “sold”, and that in the next few days my body would kick in and start making enough milk to meet the needs of my little customers.
As silly as it may seem, picturing it this way honestly kept me going when I thought my mission of ever-increasing breast milk would never be achieved.
Now you may not necessarily need to express to increase breast milk — some moms like to — but there are a few other things you can try too.
Give your baby more feeds to increase milk supply
You can try offering your baby more feeds. I personally feel that in most cases it’s probably the easiest step to increasing breast milk overnight.
So if you are breastfeeding your baby before they go down for a daytime nap, you may like to try offering a feed when they wake up too.
Many moms also try to offer their baby a feed in between their usual feeding hours. Even adding one extra breastfeed a day can make a difference.
Increase milk supply by using a proper nursing position
It can be helpful to check at all breastfeeds that your baby is positioned and latched correctly.
If they are not attached correctly apart from possibly leading to nipple pain, they may not be removing enough milk from your breast and simply come off because they are tired from sucking, not because they are full.
Often a nappy change and offering baby the same breast can help to wake them and if they drink more milk, help tell your body that it needs to make more.
Take away your baby’s pacifier
Sometimes it can help to get rid of your baby’s pacifier for a few days or for certain periods of the day and allow them to use your breast instead.
Now pacifiers, and yes, I used them for my boys won’t stop your baby from feeding, as nature will always kick in and they will get hungry; but pacifiers can help your baby “hold out” just that little bit longer so they may go an extra half an hour before they need to feed again.
Although this is great when you are driving or showering – I know I’ve been there too using them in this way may be contributing to your low supply and lead to nipple confusion.
So if you and your baby can go without this for a few days it may make a difference in terms of increasing breast milk supply.
Breastfeed your baby before he is too hungry
Breastfeeding your baby before they are over hungry and screaming the house down can also help in increasing breast milk.
If you see your baby sucking their hand or mouthing for food then offer them your breast, as these can be signs that they are hungry.
Also, feeding a clam baby rather than a distressed one can help your let-down reflex (milk flow) kick in which may also have an impact on increasing breast milk for your baby.
Breastfeed your baby while he’s asleep
Some moms find that their milk supply drops as their baby grows and begins sleeping through the night.
An option to help increase breast milk is to try and breastfeed them while they are asleep. I know I used to dread this as my first baby was so very hard to put to sleep in the first place.
But as often if you don’t change their nappy or interact with them they shouldn’t wake completely, and it can help to do it just before you go to bed so that your sleep isn’t interrupted.
Now there are two schools of thought and experience on this next point so raise them with your health professional or try them both if you like and stick with what suits you.
The first one goes like this, feeding on both breasts is a good way to increase your breast milk, but it can be helpful to make sure that your first breast is as empty as possible before offering the second breast.
This may be something you want to consider if your baby has colic or reflux.
Why? Because during a breastfeeding session, your milk goes from watery, thirst-quenching milk, to thick, fatty milk at the end of the feed.
If you swap sides often and before your baby gets to the fatty milk, your baby may be taking in lots of the watery fore-milk which can disrupt their tummy.
I know when I used to offer my baby the second breast in the one feed, I used to wonder which breast to start him on for his next feed.
I guess it’s all a bit of trial and error but it’s generally a good idea to offer the second breast (in this feeding session) first (in the next feeding session), that way you’ll make sure that it gets emptied.
According to the second way of thinking, you might like to try swapping sides a few times during a breastfeed especially if you see that your baby’s sucking has lost its strength.
Changing sides can help them suck more strongly and help you with your milk flow so that both breasts are emptied in one breastfeeding session.
Expressing can help you increase your breast milk supply
Now to expressing, yes expressing can generally help you increase your breast milk supply.
Often in this case moms choose to express after each feed, or during the night if they don’t like the idea of waking your baby for a breastfeed.
You may find that nothing comes out when you express after a feed but if you keep at it, even if only for 5 minutes after each feed it can help.
You might also try expressing from one breast while your baby is feeding on the other. This may allow you to take advantage of the fact that your baby has triggered your milk flow for you.
You may store your expressed breast milk in the refrigerator and keep it for use once your milk supply has increased.
Limit the amount of liquid your baby consumes
Any water or formula you might be giving your baby may reduce your supply as they will fill your baby so he may not drink as much breast milk, and milk production is generally based on supply and demand.
If you have breastfed your baby and you think they are still hungry, it can help to offer them the breast again after a short break rather than offering them a breast milk substitute.
I know all this is a lot to take in, but I have tried to include everything I can think of that may help you increase your breast milk supply overnight.
You may find that it only takes a few days to a week of offering more feeds (or whichever suggestion you are going to try).
This may sound a little crazy, but while you are doing all this try and get as much rest as you can, although most moms don’t need a special breastfeeding diet, you will need rest to help your body make more milk, so please try to look after yourself.