When a woman decides to breastfeed, she will look up and try to find all of the tricks of the trade to be successful in breastfeeding. Let’s face it, nursing is not easy for everyone. What works for some mamas just doesn't work for others. There are plenty of hacks on the internet to boost supply and to even make breastfeeding easier.
To help new and veteran mamas out, we have compiled a list of the best hacks for nursing mamas. We also have added a few hacks that don’t work, just to save you some time and effort. We know nursing can be painful, confusing, scary, and even stressful- but we have figured out how to lighten the load for you. From things to eat to things you wear- we have it all covered. We want you to try to best hacks and avoid the worst ones.
We know that your sister-in-law, neighbor and even the woman you will meet in the waiting room at the OBGYN will claim they have all of the answers to your breastfeeding issues. We do not want you listening to bad advice, so we have found the best of the best hacks. Trust us, we have you covered.
Which hacks are you going to try?
20 Take Supplements To Increase Supply
There are products on the market that can help boost your milk supply. If you are a tea drinker, you may want to give Mother’s Milk Tea a shot. This tea, according to ThePumpingMomy, has herbs such as fenugreek and fennel in it to help increase your milk supply. If you are not a tea drinker, you can buy herbal supplements over the counter.
According to BreastfeedingBascis, blessed thistle, red raspberry, fenugreek, and brewers yeast- which are the top supplements used to promote lactation. Talking with your doctor or a lactation consultant before taking supplements is something that MomLovesBest recommends. Your doc will be able to determine if these supplements are safe for you due to the ingredients list and your medical history.
19 Track Feedings With Jewelry
Some mama’s offer one side or both sides during a feeding, but it is important to keep track of which breast your baby fed on last. It can be hard to remember, especially being a busy mama.
VeryWellFamily suggests a few ways to keep track of your baby’s feedings such as: wearing a bracelet or hair tie on the wrist you started nursing on last, using a ring on the side you fed on last, or even downloading a breastfeeding app.
You can also tie a ribbon or secure a pin to the side of your body you nursed from last. This can be a lifesaver for mama’s who nurse on demand around the clock.
18 Use A Shield To Avoid Soreness
A nipple shield is a flexible silicon nipple worn over the mom’s nip while nursing. According to Lansinoh, nipple shields can be worn when mama has an overactive let-down, baby has a lip or tongue tie, mama has inverted or flat nips, or if baby is premature or ill. Many mama’s use shields for sore and/or cracked nipples as well.
This can be a great hack for mama’s in a variety of situations. You can purchase nipple shields online or at places like Target and Walmart. This is a breastfeeding accessory that can help mama overcome some of the most difficult breastfeeding challenges.
17 Up Your Water Intake
According to MomLovesBest, to produce milk, it helps to have extra fluids for your body to work with. Drinking about 13 cups of liquids a day can help maintain your supply. You should up your fluid intake if you notice that your urine is looking dark yellow.
Busy moms often ignore thirst, so it is best to set a reminder or have your hubby remind you to keep drinking. Of course, drinking too much can cause discomfort, so do not drink to the point where you feel sick. According to KellyMom, your body can utilize water from sources such as milk, tea, fruit/vegetable juices, soup, fruit, vegetables and other beverages.
16 Use Cabbage Leaves To Dry Up Milk
Every mama who nurses comes to a point where they must stop nursing their baby. This can be an emotionally and painfully difficult time, regardless of whatever the reason is for putting a stop to breastfeeding.
According to JustBreastfeeding, buying a head of green cabbage (yes, you heard us right) and placing them on your breast (after crushing them with a rolling pin to break up the enzymes) will help dry up your milk. When applied topically, the cabbage secretes enzymes that dry up the production of your milk. Trust us, it works! We know it sounds crazy, but this hack can be a life saver for mom’s wh want to stop the production of milk.
15 Milky Savers To Catch The Leaks
According to MyMilkies, a milk-saver collects your leaking breast milk as you pump or nurse from their side. This allows you to store extra breast milk each feeding. No one wants that liquid gold to go to waste, and this is the perfect way to save every last drop.
Once you have finished your breastfeeding/pumping session all you have to do is transfer the collected milk and store it in the fridge or freezer under you are ready to feed it to baby. This is super simple, easy and convenient! This may seem like a crazy concept, but it can make your breastfeeding journey easier!
14 Store Milk In Ice Cube Trays
According to HintMama, freezing your pumped milk ice cube trays is a way to save money and space. Once the milk is frozen, transfer the milk into a regular freezer bag. Those breast milk bags can become pricey, so this method can be helpful. One ice cube is equal to about an ounce, so you know how much each cube is.
This may be time consuming, but it may be a better option than using storage bags. When it comes time to use the milk, defrost as you normally would. We love this idea because it can make the whole pumping process easier in the long run.
13 Become More Organized With A Caddy
Those newborn days can be hectic, so setting yourself up with a nursing station with a prepared caddy can be a lifesaver. According to FromFaye, your breast pump, a water bottle, gripe water, nipple cream, breast pads, your phone, snacks, and baby nail clippers are some great things to add to your diaper caddy.
The point of the diaper caddy is to stay organized and to make nursing a little bit easier. You can find caddies on Amazon or at Target. You can take your caddy in any room you go into, so you can keep everything together and not forget things in different rooms. Trust us, this is a lifesaver.
12 Use The Double Shirt Method
Another way to make nursing easier, especially in public, is using the double shirt method. Using this method can help keep mama more covered, especially if she does not want to expose her stomach. All you have to do is wear a nursing tank (or regular tank) under a regular shirt, according to Huffington Post.
This gives mama more privacy and allows her to feel more comfortable. This is also a great option to stay warm in the winter. This method can help make breastfeeding more discrete if you do not want all of your goods hanging out while nursing around other people.
11 Make Yummy Treats To Boost Supply
If you want to increase your supply, but do not want to have to remember to take pills, lactation cookies and smoothies may be perfect for you. Pinterest has an abundance of recipes to make to help increase your supply. According to RedBookMag, you can enjoy apple pie muffins, cookie dough bites, and oatmeal banana smoothies that will all help increase supply with the help of some special ingredients.
Recipes will call for lactation boosting ingredients such as fenugreek, oatmeal, and brewers yeast (to name a few) that will get the milk flowing! This is a yummy way to boost your supply!
10 Turn Your Breastmilk Into Popsicle's
Medela Breastfeeding suggests freezing pumped breast milk into Popsicle molds to ease teething for your little one. You can also do this for a cool summer treat for your little guy or gal. If your baby has been introduced to solids, adding fruits and vegetables to your milk before freezing it can be a super yummy treat!
Banana, apple, avocado, pear, carrot- the possibilities are endless! When making breast milk Popsicles, it is best to make sure to only include ingredients that baby has already been introduced to. Everyone loves a good Popsicle, why not make it super healthy for your little one.
9 Nurse In A Sling
According to Breastfeeding Problems, breastfeeding a baby in a sling can help mama nurse baby in public without anyone knowing. Using a nursing sling can let mama carry on with her own activities while nursing baby. This can be a life saver for mama when she has errands to run or other kids to tend to.
Mastering nursing while using a sling can be tricky at first, so asking a lactation consultant for some assistance may be super helpful. This hack can help mom feel more productive and keep baby from being less fussy. A fed baby is (normally) a happy baby, and using a sling can make things easier for mom and baby.
8 Store Pump Parts In Fridge Between Sessions
Mama’s who pump know how annoying washing all of the pump parts can get. If you are at pumping at work, or pumping at home, we know it can be an inconvenience. According to Bundoo, throw your pump parts in a Ziploc bag and keep them in the fridge between uses.
When you get home at the end of the day, or before you go to bed for the night, you can wash your parts. According to Exclusive Pumping, your parts will be fine in the fridge for 12-24 hours if you take them out to pump and put them right back in. This hack can save a pumping mama so much time.
7 Heat To Relieve Pain
According to The Krazy Cupon Lady, warm breasts let out more milk. You can warm your breasts before nursing by using a warm wash cloth, hot shower or reusable hot packs. This hack can help you increase the milk output which can be a lifesaver.
This hack can also be super helpful when mama is engorged or tender. It can also help to massage your breasts because it can help prevent blocked ducts and stimulate your let down reflex, according to StorkMama. Heat plus massage may be your ticket to breastfeeding success. It can seem time consuming, but you’ll thank us later.
6 Using Wipe Container To Freeze Milk
According to Breastfeeding Place, using a baby wipes container can be useful for storing breast milk! You can take the lid off and store the bags upright in the fridge or freezer. If you are on the go, you can leave the lid on and use the wipes box as a portable breast milk storage bag container.
If you are a mama who hates accumulating trash, reusing the wipes container can be a great idea instead of trashing them. We love this idea because it saves space and keeps your milk organized! You can have one box in the fridge for fresh milk or in the freezer for stashed milk.
5 Switching Too Frequently
Some mamas believe that switching breasts every few minutes will allow baby to get more milk and help your supply. According to The Bump, allowing baby to finish on one breast before offering the other will help maintain your supply along with helping baby get the right number of calories and fat that she will need.
You will learn when baby is done at the breast when she comes off on her own, falls asleep, or stops sucking actively. You may or may not need to alternate breasts during a feed, but if you do make sure you start the next session with the opposite breast.
4 Toughening Up The Milk Supply
According to The Bump, in the past many mothers were encouraged to toughen up those nips by rubbing them with towels or loofah’s. Nowadays, that is totally not necessary. Your nipples are actually supposed to be soft and comfortable in your baby’s mouth. Your body is already doing everything it needs to prep your body for nursing your little bundle of joy.
During pregnancy you’ll notice that your areola may become darker and your nips may begin to change in texture. These are all due to hormones that help prepare your nips for feeding. So please, do not try to toughen up your nips, there is no point.
3 Pump And Dump To Avoid Sickness
According to Medela Bresfeeding US, in most cases if you have a flu or a cold, you should continue breastfeeding. Believe it or not, your breast milk gives your little guy the best protection against getting sick. No one wants a sick baby, but it may be doing your baby more harm than good to pump and dump the milk.
According to Parents, your body will change the milk’s immunological composition so that baby will not get sick. Of course, it happens sometimes, but dumping the milk will take away the chance of your baby being protected. If everyone in the family has a terrible cold, nursing your baby can protect her from getting the sickness.
2 Skipping Feedings To Let Them Fill Up
According to BabyCenter, your supply of breast milk depends on your baby’s demand for it. The less you nurse, the less milk your body will make. Some mamas believe that if they skip a feeding or two during the day, it’ll make their breasts fill up with milk more. This is not increasing your supply, but instead diminishing it.
The more feeding sessions you skip out on, the less milk will be left for baby. Of course many mama’s must supplement using formula due to a variety of reasons, but this is something that must be discussed with your babies doc and/or a lactation consultant. What we know for sure is skipping feedings to help build supply will backfire.
1 Drinking To Increase Supply
Some mamas swear by drinking beer to increase your milk supply, but we advise against it. According to Breastfeeding Basics, beer can actually inhibit the letdown reflex which in turn, reduces the amount of milk baby receives. Drinking beer also adds unnecessary calories to a mama’s diet.
There is a lot of controversy on breastfeeding and drinking alcohol. According to KellyMom, daily consumption of alcohol has been shown in research to increase the risk of slow weight gain and decrease of gross motor development. It is not 100% safe to have your baby exposed to alcohol, especially since young babies metabolize alcohol more slowly than older babies. There are many other ways to increase your milk supply, its best to stay away from this risky one.
References: Huffington Post, Hint Mama, Breastfeeding Basics, My Milkies, The Pumping Mommy, Kelly Mom, BabyCenter, Very Well Family, Just Breastfeeding, Medela Beastfeedingus, Parents.com, Stork Mama, The Krazy Cupon Lady, From Faye, Lansinoh, The Bump, Breastfeeding-Problems, Exclusive Pumping, Bundoo, The Bump, Breastfeeding Place, RedbookMag, and Breastfeeding-Problems.