With a new little one in your arms, there are sure to be lots of things on your mind—even more so if you’re breastfeeding. If you are concerned about whether your baby is getting enough milk, you may be wondering how to maintain a healthy milk supply.
This is a very common question for nursing mothers and exactly what we’ll cover in this article. First, we’ll discuss how to know if your baby is getting enough milk, and then we’ll share seven natural ways to help promote optimal milk volume production so you can feed your baby with peace of mind.*
How to Know if Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk
It’s easy to know if a bottle-fed baby is drinking enough milk each day because you can measure how many ounces of milk you’ve fed them. But it’s not so simple with breastfed babies.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests a few different measures for ensuring your baby is drinking enough and staying well-nourished. First of all, look to their weight. They should lose no more than 7% of their birth weight in their first few days and then start to gain weight again.1
But weight isn’t the only way to know if your baby is drinking enough milk. You’ll also want to check their diapers and monitor how often they’re nursing.
After the first five to seven days of your baby’s life, they should poop at least three to four times a day and their stool should be yellow and loose.1 They should also wet at least six diapers a day.1
When it comes to how often your baby nurses, aim for eight to 12 feedings every day (over 24 hours). Your little one should be content for one to three hours before needing to nurse again.1
If you have concerns about how much or how often your baby is eating, consult with your pediatrician. And if you’re concerned that you aren’t producing enough milk, turn to these tips to learn how to maintain a healthy milk supply naturally.*
How to Support a Healthy Milk Supply: 7 Natural Tips
1) Drink Herbal Tea*
You may not be familiar with the word “galactagogues,” but you have probably heard about them all the same. Galactagogues are herbs (or medications) used to support breast milk production.*2 Common galactagogues include Fennel, Fenugreek, Nettle, and Ginger, to name a few.*
Using herbs to support nursing mothers is nothing new. In fact, the practice is several thousand years old.2 Below, we’ll focus on natural galactagogues that you can easily add into your routine.
One simple way to work galactagogues into your day: Drink herbal tea.*
In fact, there’s research behind this tip. One study compared breastfeeding mothers who drank a placebo tea or were part of a control group to breastfeeding mothers who drank an herbal tea made with Hibiscus, Fennel, Rooibos, Vervain, Raspberry, Fenugreek, Goat’s Rue, vitamin C, and Fennel oil.2
Its results indicated that mothers who drank the herbal tea had more optimized breast milk volume production and that their infants regained their birth weight more rapidly than those nursing mothers who did not drink the tea.*2
Sipping on tea can not only increase your water intake (which is great for breastfeeding) but can also provide you with galactagogues.* We recommend turning to an herbal tea designed for breastfeeding mothers, like Gaia Herbs Lactation Support Herbal Tea.*
This USDA Certified Organic tea contains herbs including Goat’s Rue, Fenugreek, Marshmallow, and Stinging Nettle. Fennel and Lemon Balm are also included and provide a subtly sweet, aromatic flavor that makes this tea satisfying and delightful.
Simply pour one cup of freshly boiled water over a tea bag. Cover, steep for 10 minutes, and then enjoy.
2) Take an Herbal Supplement*
Another way to take advantage of herbs for breastfeeding is by simply swallowing a capsule.
The capsule format of our Lactation Support supplement provides a convenient and easy way for nursing mothers to get the herbal support they need at home or on the go.* All you need to do is take one capsule three times daily between meals.
The Marshmallow root used in this product is grown on our Certified Organic Gaia Farm located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
At Gaia Herbs, we are firm believers that the quality of an herbal supplement can only be as good as the quality of the herbs that go into it. That’s why many of the herbs in our products are grown on our farm, where we can cultivate them exactly the way we want and carefully monitor the growing conditions.
For plants used in our supplements that we cannot grow on our own farm or in the quantity that we need, our network of organic and sustainable growers allows us to source herbs from where they grow best and where conditions are ideal to produce the highest possible level of botanical compounds, from farmers who meet our exacting standards.
To learn more about this or any of our other herbs and supplements, visit meetyourherbs.com, the world’s first herb traceability platform.
Simply type in the herb ID on your product to discover the origin of your herbs and learn how they were grown, harvested, and extracted. You can also see validation of the purity and potency of your supplement so you can feel confident about what you are taking.
3) Breastfeed Frequently
Your body produces breast milk on a supply-and-demand basis.
When your breasts are full, a hormone is released to slow milk production.3 And that is exactly what you don’t want if you’re trying to optimize healthy milk volume production as a nursing mom. On the contrary, when milk is removed, your body works to make more.3
This is why it’s important to breastfeed or pump frequently and not wait until your breasts feel full. Aim for at least 10 breastfeeding sessions every 24 hours, and to not go longer than five hours without breastfeeding at night.3,4
In other words, try to nurse at least every two hours during waking hours.5 Cluster feeding is a good option for emptying your breasts and maintaining a healthy supply of breast milk.4
Power pumping is another good way to do it. This means to pump and rest off and on for intervals of 10 minutes during one hour of the day.5
4) Don’t Set a Time Limit
In addition to nursing (or pumping) frequently, try to avoid watching the clock. Instead of feeding your baby at designated intervals or times, simply watch your little one’s hunger cues and allow them to nurse when they are hungry.5
Additionally, you don’t have to regulate how long the breastfeeding session will be. You can let your baby decide how long to nurse and allow them to drain your breasts at each feeding if they want.6
5) Make Sure Your Baby Is Latching Correctly
It’s also important to check that your baby is latching correctly. A poor latch can be painful for you and may mean that your baby doesn’t get much milk, which, as we’ve mentioned, can cut down on milk supply.7
If you think your baby may not be latching properly, talk with your lactation consultant or pediatrician.
6) Take a Deep Breath
There’s no doubt about it: As wonderful as breastfeeding is, it can, at times, be stressful. We want to encourage you to take a deep breath (or several).
And if that includes skin-to-skin contact with your baby, even better. Cuddling with your baby before you express milk and keeping your baby near you while you do so may help you express more milk.3
7) Eat Healthily
Several foods are said to be useful for supporting breast milk production. Many moms find that oatmeal, quinoa, and lactation cookies made with ingredients such as whole grains, flaxseed, and brewer’s yeast are helpful.*5
It’s also important to remember that eating healthily in general and supporting your overall health and wellness are important during these breastfeeding days. If you are tired and your body is not properly fueled, you may not produce breast milk as well.6
In addition to eating a nourishing diet, rest when you can and stay hydrated. Remember that your body needs more calories than normal to sustain both you and your breastfeeding baby.8
Promote Healthy Breast Milk Volume, Naturally*
How much breast milk you produce has nothing to do with how good of a mother you are. That being said, it’s normal for mothers to worry about how much milk they’re producing and wonder how to support a healthy milk supply.
Turn to the tips we listed above to support your hardworking body and help maintain healthy breast milk production naturally.* Sip on a warm cup of Gaia Herbs Lactation Support Herbal Tea, or provide your body with supportive herbs through capsules such as Gaia Herbs Lactation Support.*
Remember that you’ll also want to breastfeed frequently, check your baby’s latch, and care for yourself by relaxing and resting when you can, eating healthily, and drinking enough water.
Be patient and, most of all, keep enjoying every moment you have nursing your little one.
1. American Academy of Pediatrics, “How to Tell if Your Breastfed Baby Is Getting Enough Milk,” healthychildren.org, August 7, 2020, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/How-to-Tell-if-Baby-is-Getting-Enough-Milk.aspx.
2. Katarzyna Budzynska et al. “Complementary, Holistic, and Integrative Medicine: Advice for Clinicians on Herbs and Breastfeeding,” Pediatrics in Review 34, no. 8 (2013): 343–353, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4530286.
3. “Increasing Your Breast Milk Supply,” Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service, accessed March 30, 2021, https://www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/fact-sheet-increasing-your-breast-milk-supply.
4. Karen Butler, “My Baby Needs More Milk,” La Leche League GB, 2016, https://www.laleche.org.uk/my-baby-needs-more-milk.
5. “Pump It Up: 6 Tips for Increasing Breast Milk Production,” UAB Medicine, accessed March 30, 2021, https://www.uabmedicine.org/-/pump-it-up-6-tips-for-increasing-breast-milk-production.
6. Sara Novak, “How to Increase Your Breast Milk Supply,” What to Expect, November 4, 2020, https://www.whattoexpect.com/poor-milk-supply-breastfeeding.aspx.
7. American Academy of Pediatrics, “Ensuring Proper Latch On,” healthychildren.org, November 21, 2015, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/Ensuring-Proper-Latch-On.aspx.
8. “Maternal diet,” CDC, October 8 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/diet-and-micronutrients/maternal-diet.html.