If you’ve decided to exclusively pump, or if breastfeeding is not an option for you and exclusively pumping is the next best method, then here are some tips for what to eat, drink, and do that can help increase your supply.
What To Eat
- Barley. As the richest dietary source of beta-glucan, barley is a polysaccharide that can increase prolactin (aka breastfeeding hormone) levels. You can increase barley intake by adding it to soups, stews, salad and risotto.
- Oats. Like barley, oats also have high concentration of dietary beta-glucan. You can cook oats and top with fruits, bake them in muffins or crumble oats on pies.
- Brown rice. Aside from barley and oats, whole wheat and brown rice are also rich in beta-glucan. When you can, you should always opt for brown rice instead of white.
- Papaya. You can eat it raw or cook it in soup.
- Fennel + Fenugreek Seeds. This vegetable contains phytoestrogen which is helps with milk production. If you are not typically a fennel eater or have never tried raw fennel before, this is your chance! Simply toss with some grapefruit and orange, along with some olive oil, and you are good to go! This product can be found at your local grocery store or from these vendors on Amazon. **Note: Eat with moderation and track your milk output. Too much fennel / fenugreek seeds can lead to supply drops as well. Learn more from our Fenugreek blogpost.
- Lactation snacks. There are tons of lactation-boosting recipes out there as well as ready-made snacks you can buy from a store. For example, if you are craving something sweet, you can try the popular milkmakers lactation cookies or the Oat Mama lactation granola bars.
- Herbal supplements. Finally, there’s a wide variety of herbal supplements that can also help increase milk supply. A few examples are below (click each image to see where to buy).
What To Drink
Breast milk production is highly correlated with one ingredient: fenugreek, which can be taken in the form of natural vegetable or pills state. To those who wish to consume fenugreek in a more tasty and efficient form, you may want to consider these liquid alternatives: (click each image to see where to buy)
Beer?! Well, yes and no. A polysaccharide in the barley used to make beer seems to stimulate prolactin and helps moms make more milk…BUT alcohol inhibits milk production.
Here’s a really good article that describes and the in’s and out’s of beer and milk production. It nicely portrays different sides of the story and lets you be the judge on whether to down that beer.
What To Do
To get your milk flowing, there involves some pumping techniques (aka hacks) that could be useful.
- “Massage-Stroke-Shake” (M-S-S) technique. This is a great way to get the milk flowing before you pump.
- Apply breastfeeding relief packs. These pads are moist and are microwave safe. Moist heat does more than improve circulation. Research shows that moist heat enhances the body’s natural let-down reflex by helping to increase circulation and stimulate oxytocin, the hormone responsible for the let-down reflex. It also helps treat many common pumping problems like milk blisters, prevent and resolve clogged ducts as well as prevent mastitis. This one by Rachel’s Remedy is one of the more highly reviewed relief packs:
- Pump after you shower. The best time, if there is one, to pump is after you shower. Again, the heat and the moist from the shower will assist in the let down process and allow your milk to flow.
- Power pump. When a baby is cluster feeding, they are constantly on and off the breast, trying to get more milk. Here’s a great infographic that outlines some steps: (image source: http://breastpumpexpert.com/power-pumping/)