Not having enough milk and having to use other options, like formula, can be very frustrating for mothers of newborns. Fortunately, there are ways to increase milk flow and to be able to provide the newborn enough milk that he or she wants or needs.
Increasing supply with breast pump
Breastfeeding is the best way possible to increase the supply. However, it happens often that the baby is not able or interested to go back to the breast. In that case it is recommended to use a breast pump to keep the steady supply. Ideally, the milk should be expressed using a double, automatic and hospital-grade pump eight to 12 times a day.
In order to maximize the breast-pumping capability, it is recommended to elicit the milk ejection reflex first and to use as much suction as necessary. Applying too much suction can cause pain. During pumping, it helps to massage the breasts in quadrants and to avoid lengthy uninterrupted vacuums. When the milk flow stops or becomes minimal, the pumping should stop.
Increasing supply with herbs
There is not much scientific research on medicinal plants that increase the milk flow. However, many mothers have testified that some herbs provide significant help with the milk flow. Those herbs are called galactogogues and they work by increasing the milk production in the glands.
There are herbal tea mixtures, like Mother’s Milk Tea, that increase the flow. Those are available in health food and herbal stores.
Fenugreek capsules have been proven effective in increasing the milk supply, but it does have certain side effects, and it is not recommended for women who suffer from diabetes or asthma. It is recommended to consult a physician before using fenugreek to increase the milk flow. Blessed thistle and oatmeal are also believed to be helpful.
Increasing supply with medication
Aside from natural and herbal options, there are prescription medications available that work by raising prolactin levels, which, in turn, increases the milk flow.
Domperidone is the most commonly prescribed medication for this purpose. This medication has fewer side effects but unfortunately it is not available in regular pharmacies in the United States. It can, however, be ordered from compound pharmacies in the US, with prescription. It is sold over-the-counter in Mexico and New Zealand.
Reglan or metoclopramide increases the milk flow from 72 to 110 percent, depending on the time passed after the delivery. It is not recommended for women with history of depression, and its side effects include headache and fatigue.