Although having a true low supply of breast milk is rare, most breastfeeding moms wonder about ways to increase their supply at some point. Increasing your supply is definitely possible, but the truth is that there's no one magic formula to make it happen. Different things work better for different women. With that in mind, however, there are a few things that don't actually increase you milk supply, like at all.
Some of these things are relatively healthy, normal habits for breastfeeding moms, but they're not all as effective as many expect or make them out them to be. The danger surrounding these myths about increasing milk supply is that they may lead women to believe that their supply issues will be automatically solved, when that probably isn't the case. If you're hoping to truly increase your milk supply, La Leche League International (LLLI) suggested that moms increase the frequency of their nursing sessions, invest in a quality breast pump, make sure your baby latches on correctly, and take care of your body.
Whether you want to increase your supply quickly or you want to gradually build it up, knowing what not to do can be as effective as knowing what to do.
1. Drinking More Water
Although it makes sense that increasing your fluid intake may increase your milk supply, according to the Dr. Sears website, drinking more water won't cause you to make more milk. Nursing moms are generally more thirsty than usual, so even though upping your water intake is a great idea, your body will continue to produce milk regardless of your hydration levels. In fact, the aforementioned Dr. Sears article mentioned that forcing fluids can even diminish your milk output. Drink to quench your thirst; there's no need to overdo it.
2. Skipping Feedings
Another somewhat counter-intuitive thought is that skipping feedings won't cause your milk supply to "build up." Although you might experience temporary engorgement from a skipped session, according to the aforementioned LLLI article, skipping feedings actually signals your body to make less milk. The more milk you remove from your breasts, the more milk your body will make.
3. Eating A Lot Of Galactagogues
Galactagogues, or foods that are thought to increase milk supply, may have somewhat of an impact on your supply, but according to the Australian Breastfeeding Association, galactagogues will only work when combined with healthy nursing habits and frequent milk removal.
The evidence surrounding common "milk boosting foods" like oats, fenugreek, and spinach is very limited. And although they're likely beneficial for your milk, you probably won't wake up with an notable difference in supply after eating a lactation cookie.
4. Feeding On A Strict Schedule
Although having a schedule is generally a good thing when it comes to parenting, feeding on demand is usually best for your supply. Noticing your baby's hunger cues and responding promptly will ensure that you're making enough milk for their needs (and then some). Healthy Children noted that when a mother feeds on demand, her supply automatically adjusts to her baby's needs. Creating a strict schedule (unless you're exclusively pumping) will likely slow your supply down.