Breastfeeding is a wonderful bonding experience that every mom should, if possible, at least try. But having that said, it can also be quite painful and very exhausting, and on top of that, some moms struggle with a too-high or too-low milk supply. Today, we wanted to talk about exactly that, a mom's milk supply. There are certain things that can decrease as well as increase it, and sometimes moms aren't really aware of them.
So for all of the new moms out there who struggle with not having enough milk for their little bundle of joy, make sure to not do the first 15 things on this list, and do more of the last five. And for those moms who are weaning and want to stop making milk, perhaps even avoid the last five things on our list, and do some of the ones mentioned before. Most of the things on our list are food-related, meaning they are easy to avoid or have more of, but there are a couple of other things we had to mention, as well.
Alright, here they are: 15 things that can decrease a mom's breastmilk supply, followed by five things that can actually increase it!
20 Let's Start With Stress, A Common Reason Breastmilk Is Decreased
Stress is known to cause plenty of changes in the human body, and for breastfeeding moms, it can potentially decrease the amount of milk they produce. Very Well Family writes how all types of stress can cause a decrease in the mom's milk supply, as moms who experience emotional rollercoasters and feel anxious frequently are more affected by a lower supply. So while stress is pretty much inevitable as a new mom, if the mom is struggling with her milk supply, she really should try her best to worry about things as little as possible and minimize any stress-inducing activities.
19 And So Is Birth Control
While the pill may be the easiest type of birth control for long-term couples, it is definitely known to also have quite a few side effects. And when it comes to breastmilk, a decrease in the supply is something the pill can definitely cause. According to Today's Parent, some mothers who are on the contraceptive pill do not notice a change in milk supply, while others definitely do. If an increase in milk is needed, and the mom happens to be using hormonal birth control, she should certainly consult her doctor about potentially going off the pill for a while.
18 Drinking Chasteberry Tea Can Also Result In Decreased Breastmilk
Chasteberry might not be something people have often, which is why it really that much isn't of concern when breastfeeding. However, if the mom is trying to decrease her breastmilk supply, it might be worth a shot. According to Parents, chasteberry directly affects the pituitary gland and inhibits the secretion of prolactin. And when prolactin levels are lowered, so is usually the milk supply. So if the mom is weaning her baby, and actually needs to lower her milk supply, having chasteberry tea could help. Chasteberry, a fruit native to the Mediterranean, has been known to have plenty of health benefits, so it really wouldn't do any harm.
17 As Can Getting Sick Actually
UT Southwestern Medical Center writes how getting sick can also contribute to a decrease in breastmilk supply. This happens not necessarily because of a virus itself, but rather because of certain side effects that can come with it, such as a loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. If a mom that breastfeeds finds herself getting sick and experiencing some of these side effects, she should definitely consult with a doctor to see what is recommended, so that she doesn't experience a decrease in breastmilk. Keeping hydrated in this situation and forcing yourself to eat regularly is something that can help.
16 Speaking Of Which, Cold Medicine Can Also Affect The Supply
Since we're talking about getting sick, let's also mention how certain medication can affect the breastmilk supply as well. According to Parents, especially medications for colds which contain "pseudoephedrine," a common ingredient in many over-the-counter allergy and cold medications can affect a mom's milk supply. However, medicine usually affects a mom's breastmilk supply mainly in the first few weeks — later on, once a regular production is established, it doesn't affect it as much. However, as we've already mentioned before, the best way to go about all of this is to see a doctor and have them recommend meds that have the least influence on the milk supply.
15 Lemon Tea Is Not Really Advised When Breastfeeding
Booties And The Beast lists lemon tea as another type of tea that can potentially cause a decrease in the mom's breastmilk supply. However, this applies only to those lemon teas that have the herb lemon balm in them — other lemon teas are totally fine. Of course, as we already mentioned with chasteberry tea, a decrease won't be noticeable unless it's had often, so a tea here and there won't do much harm. But yes, if the mom is actually trying to decrease her breastmilk supply, drinking some lemon tea that has lemon balm in it could turn out very helpful.
14 And Spices Like Sage And Parsley Can Also Cause A Lower Supply
Very Well Family lists spices like sage, parsley and even oregano as potential causes for a decrease in breast milk. Moms who struggle with their milk supply should stray away from these and similar spices. Again, consuming these spices can be great if the mom is actually trying to decrease her milk supply, and mixing the spices into a daily juice or making sure to cook with them can be helpful. According to Breastfeeding Basics, sage in particular, if taken in every six hours as a tea can dry up breastmilk fairly quickly. It can be bought in teabags, or made from the kitchen spice!
13 Peppermint Isn't Too Good Either If There's Not Enough Milk
Besides the above-mentioned spices, peppermint is another one that can decrease a mom's milk supply. However, we separated this one from the rest as it is generally had way more often, and it can be found in more food. According to Breastfeeding Problems, peppermint can be used to treat oversupply of milk or it can be used when weaning the child. If, however, the supply is rather on the low, the mom needs to be aware of all the foods that can contain peppermint besides just the tea and spice, such as different candy as well as some medicine and cough drops.
12 Using Cabbage Leaves To Decrease Milk Supply Is Quite Common
Another thing that moms can do when they want to decrease their breastmilk supply is use cabbage leaves. But according to Live String, not as food, but instead directly on their chest, as the lady in the photo above. Basically what the mom should do is wash the cabbage leaves, dry them a bit and then place them inside her bra. After this, she should keep them on for a minimum of 20 minutes, but ideally until the leaves wilt. Doing this a couple of times during the day has been known to help moms who are trying to stop breastfeeding.
11 And Pumping Less Milk Will Result In A Decrease Too
Alright, this one might seem obvious, but some moms do not realize that pumping signals the body to produce more. Exclusive Pumping writes that if you want to stop breastfeeding, gradually pumping less each day will get you there. Now, you obviously can't just completely stop pumping, as the chest would get very hard and painful, and stopping abruptly could potentially result in clogged ducts — which no mom wants to experience. Slowly reducing the volume of the pumped milk, accompanied by using some of the teas and herbs we mentioned above is the best and most painless way to decrease breast milk production.
10 Fish Oil Can Also Have A Decreasing Effect On Breastmilk
According to Lactiful, some women have experienced that fish oil supplements affect their breastmilk supply. So if a mom is breastfeeding and she's struggling with producing enough milk for her baby, she should definitely try to switch out her fish oil supplements (if she has been taking them) to something else that is omega-3 rich — like flaxseed oil supplements. Getting enough omega-3 is very important for everyone, especially for moms who breastfeed. And again, switching back to the previously used fish oil supplements could be useful once the mom wants to stop breastfeeding and is trying to lower her breastmilk supply.
9 And While A Cup Of Coffee Is Allowed - It May Decrease Milk Production
Besides fish oils supplements, Lactiful also states that women seem to be noticing that coffee is influencing their milk supply, in particular, decreasing it. However, this can be quite different from mom to mom, as some don't notice a change. Caffeine is allowed while breastfeeding, even though it is advised to not have too much of it, as some does end up in the milk — meaning the baby gets to have a bit of it as well. Trying to cut out caffeine completely, if possible, could lead to an increase in the milk produced, even though it may result in a slightly tired and grumpy mom.
8 Surprisingly, So Can Too Much Water
So here's the thing: Drinking enough water while breastfeeding is crucial since 90% of the breastmilk is made up of water. However, some moms can go a bit overboard, worried that they aren't drinking enough, meaning they drink way more than necessary which, according to Very Well Family, can actually result in a sudden drop in breastmilk supply. A big reason this happens is because the body gets filled up with fluid meaning hunger is suppressed, and the mom ends up not eating enough food. Most professionals will recommend the mom to drink between six and eight glasses of water per day for a healthy amount of breastmilk.
7 Waiting Too Long To Start Breastfeeding Can Affect The Supply Of Milk
This is also not a secret: The longer the mom waits to start breastfeeding, the harder it usually is and the lower the milk supply turns out to be. Living And Loving lists this as one of the main factors that can affect breastmilk supply, so soon-to-be-moms are advised to, if they plan to breastfeed, start as soon as possible. We know that breastfeeding can be quite painful in the beginning - and after having just given birth the mom might not be up for more pain, but pushing through those first few breastfeeding sessions might save the mom from a lower breastmilk supply.
6 And Becoming Pregnant Again Could Lower It As Well
Alright, a lot of mom's might not even consider this, but if they are planning to have another child soon (meaning they are actively trying to get pregnant while still breastfeeding), they should know that a pregnancy will result in a decrease of breastmilk, and eventually complete drying out. Very Well Family writes how the hormones of a new pregnancy are known to cause a decrease in the mom's milk supply, and there's not really anything the mom can do to prevent that. If this happens while the child is still under a year old, substituting the breastmilk with formula will be necessary.
5 On The Other Hand, Eating Oatmeal Can Increase Breastmilk
Now, let's mention a couple of things that can actually help a mom have more breastmilk. Practo lists oatmeal as one of their top ten foods that help increase breastmilk supply. The reason oatmeal helps is because it's rich in iron, and an iron deficiency can cause a decrease in milk supply. We bet a lot of moms will be happy to hear that oatmeal helps, because it is so easy to make, and it's a great breakfast food. And if they are not too keen on having oatmeal for breakfast every morning, oatmeal cookies are a great dessert option!
4 And So Can Consuming Lots Of Garlic
Practo also lists garlic as a great food for increasing breastmilk supply, as it is very versatile and can be used a lot in everyday cooking. Besides just increasing the amount of milk, it also flavors it, which can make a picky baby like it more. On top of this, garlic has also been connected to helping babies who have symptoms of colic. While it does add a lot of flavor to food, some people do not like garlic (or its aftertaste), and if that's the case with the mom, she can just take garlic pills to get all the benefits of it instead.
3 Salmon Is A Mom's Best Friend When There Isn't Enough Milk
Another food that can do wonders for breastmilk is salmon. Sanford Health News writes how salmon is great for breastfeeding moms as it contains vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and large amounts of DHA — a type of fat that is important for the development of the baby's nervous system. On top of being super healthy, it has also been known to increase the milk supply, so if the mom needs to produce more milk, making salmon with garlic for dinner would be a great meal. Because of its nutritional values, salmon can also help with PPD, which is another reason it's so good for new moms.
2 And Consuming Spices Like Fennel, Ginger, And Turmeric Can Help As Well
Spices like fennel, ginger, and turmeric are known to have a ton of health benefits, and Mama Natural also claims that increasing a mom's breastmilk is one of them as well. Since they are so healthy in general, adding them to a mom's eating plan definitely can't hurt. It is recommended to have one teaspoon of each of the spices three times a day, either in a meal or a drink. Again, as with garlic, some moms might not like these spices, so concealing their tastes in a yummy juice or smoothie would be an easy way to still have them.
1 Lastly, If You Don't Have Enough Breastmilk, Try Eating A Green Unripe Papaya
Okay, unripe papaya might sound unappealing at first, but honestly, moms seem to swear by it! Mom 365 writes how green papaya is usually used a lot in Thai food, so eating for example Som Tam can be great for a breastfeeding mom. However, if the mom isn't necessarily a fan of Thai food, the papaya can be prepared by steaming or stir-frying and had with whatever food she likes. And if that's still not delicious enough, there are green papaya pills she can take.
Alright, hope this list of things that influence breastmilk has helped some moms out there, whether they are trying to increase or decrease their supplies!