A woman lies in bed with her newborn baby and cannot sleep.
A period of restfulness might go a long way in restoring your milk supply. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

I’ve previously written about how you can tell if your baby is getting enough breast milk.

Sometimes life just gets busy, or we get sick or rundown, and our supply of milk decreases.

Are there things we can do to remedy this? Absolutely.

One of the first things you can do is find out if you’re sick. Illness can affect breast milk production, so make sure you take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest and stay hydrated.

One new mom I met had been concerned about her milk production, and she simply had to take a few days to rest and cuddle and nurse her baby.

I had to work at increasing my milk supply with my second baby. She was born at 32 weeks and transferred to the NICU. I couldn’t nurse her in the beginning, so I had to pump. I tried to pump every two hours or so during the day and at least once or twice at night.

She came home when she was 3 weeks old. I started nursing the day before she came home. It took extra work because she was so small—she weighed less than 5 pounds then—and she hadn’t nursed until that point.

I had to work to create that great milk supply. I nursed her and had to pump afterward. She had to have some formula supplementation because she was so small, but in time I could nurse her without any supplements.

Super sustenance  

Apart from decreasing stress, improving hydration and getting more rest, what can a mom do to improve her breast milk supply?

At the top of the list: eat right. The foods you eat can help increase milk supply.

Here are some of the top ones:

  • Oatmeal. Even though we don’t have study proof for this one, it helps many moms to increase their production.
  • Garlic. This one relates to the flavor. Babies like garlic flavor. It seems if moms take a garlic supplement, babies can taste it and it’ll make them nurse longer.
  • Ginger. In addition to helping with milk supply, it boosts the immune system.
  • Fenugreek. With this one, most women notice a difference within 72 hours. If taken in large doses, however, it can affect sugar levels—so it’s not always recommended for diabetics.
  • Alfalfa. You can add it to salads or other foods.
  • Spinach. It’s high in iron, and researchers suspect that low iron may negatively affect milk supply.
  • Lactation cookies. These are usually made with oatmeal and a few other things to help increase your milk supply. You can Google recipes for these.

There are also teas that combine some of these ingredients. One I’m familiar with is called Mother’s Milk.

A few other items to consider are fennel, nuts, sesame seed and brewer’s yeast, the latter of which is not gluten-free.

The takeaway here is clear: Nurse as often as you can and consider pumping to increase your milk supply. Get your rest and stay hydrated, and make it a point to eat some of the natural foods that could help your body.

A great thing to do is check in with your local lactation consultant or lactation counselor.

In our area of Michigan, there is a great resource, the Spectrum Health app, where you can Skype with a lactation counselor and receive help.