Apr 27, 2023 • 9 min read

How to Increase Breastmilk Supply in One Day or Overnight: Foods & Other Options to Refill Fast

Medically Reviewed by Kim Langdon, MD on 04.27.23
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Am I making enough breast milk?  Is my baby getting enough? How can I make more milk? What are some ways to boost my breast milk supply quickly or overnight?

Concerns about milk supply can come up at any time. According to a 2008 study published in the journal Pediatrics, “The perception that their infant was not satisfied by breast milk alone was cited consistently as 1 of the top 3 reasons in the mothers’ decision to stop breastfeeding regardless of weaning age…”

Options for increasing milk supply in one day or overnight center around increasing the frequency and efficiency of removing milk from your breasts. Waking a baby for additional feedings, especially at night, taps into the body’s natural rise in breastmilk-making hormones.

If your baby is already feeding frequently, but possibly not efficiently, adding in pumping sessions with a double-sided, electric pump, can provide needed stimulation. Using techniques such as hands-on pumping can help drain the breasts more completely.

This guide goes over some common causes of drops in milk production and offers tips to help you increase your breast milk supply quickly.

Is it possible to increase breast milk supply in one day or overnight?  

In a word, maybe.

Whether or not you can increase your breast milk supply in one day or overnight depends on the reasons you aren’t producing enough in the first place.

If a short supply is due to not breastfeeding or pumping correctly, you can quickly fix those issues and create more right away.

If the short supply is due to other issues, such as being stressed out, medical conditions, or hormonal imbalances, you likely won’t be able to increase your supply in one day or overnight.

Understanding the milk production cycle can help you decide on the strategy that will work best for you. The more often milk is taken out of the breast, the more quickly the body works to replace it.

You may choose different options depending on how old your baby is. Your milk supply may depend on your medical history. Some conditions, such as PCOS or hypothyroidism, may inhibit your body’s ability to produce milk.

Working with a lactation consultant can help you determine the best strategy for your situation.

How to increase your breast milk supply in one day or overnight

The more often milk is removed from your breasts, the more quickly the body rushes to replace it. Keep track of feedings to make sure your baby has at least 8 active feedings every 24 hours.

Here are some ways to increase breast milk supply quickly broken down by category:

Adjust the timing and frequency of feedings

Follow the saying “watch the baby, not the clock.” Your baby will signal readiness for feeding by becoming restless or trying to suck on a hand or fist. When you see those signs, offer your baby a feeding right away, even if it seems like your baby just ate.

  • Wake your baby during the day. Sleepy babies may need you to wake them up to ensure that there are at least 8 active feedings every 24 hours. Newborns, especially, can be sleepy during the day.
  • Feed at night. For older babies sleeping longer at night can result in fewer overall feedings. With fewer “requests to the kitchen,” your breasts will naturally slow down production. By building in feedings at night, when prolactin (the “milk-making hormone”) is the highest, you may see a quick boost in supply.
  • Let baby lead. Scheduling feedings and sleep training can cause a drop in supply when a hungry baby is ‘held off’ to encourage conformity to a feeding interval baby is not developmentally ready for.
  • Plan a nursing honeymoon. If possible, dedicate a couple of days to just nesting at home. During this time, you can prioritize breastfeeding without worrying about running errands, entertaining visitors, or other interruptions.

Empty the breasts

If you are waiting to feel your breasts refill between feedings, you’re waiting too long! Unrelieved fullness in the breast sends a message that the previous batch wasn’t needed, so your body delays sending the next one!

Here are some tips to increase supply quickly by better emptying the breasts:

  • Watch and listen. To evaluate if baby is draining your breast well at each feeding you can compare your baby’s feedings to the baby on this video. With a newborn, your breast will feel softer after feedings.
  • Hand Express. Get good at hand expression to get your milk flowing before baby latches. Expressing milk after baby feeds is also helpful.
  • Pump. Pumping in addition to breastfeeding tells your body to start making more milk quickly by increasing the frequency and efficiency of milk removal. Try hands-on pumping with a double-sided, electric breast pump to stand in for the sleepy or ineffective baby.
  • Ensure a secure latch. Choose a position with good body support to avoid leaning over baby. Lean back and pull baby close to your chest, making sure that his cheeks are touching your breast. Look for baby’s ear-shoulder-hip to be in a straight line while touching your body. Angle baby so his head is higher than his feet—think of your baby as a sash across your body. Removing swaddling and excess blankets helps stay closer during feedings.
  • Give help. Squeezing your breast while your baby is latched (breast compression) helps a sleepy baby get more milk out.

Consume foods that can help increase breast milk supply

According to research, there are certain foods and herbs—called galactagogues—that can help increase a mother’s strength and induce lactation.

Some herbs commonly mentioned as galactagogues include fenugreek, goat’s rue, milk thistle, oats, dandelion, seaweed, shatavari, and torbangun.

While their use is well-known, studies confirming their effectiveness are sparse. Some of the previously listed herbs are common ingredients in Indian and Asian cuisine.

Here is a list of food and herb compiled by Lisa Marasco and Diana West in their book Making More Milk: The Breastfeeding Guide to Increasing Your Milk Production:

  • Whole grains. Oats, quinoa, millet, barley, and brown rice are easy to find and prepare.
  • Proteins. These foods are easy to use in recipes.  Legumes (chickpeas, lentils), nuts (almonds/almond meal), peanuts, and sesame seeds.
  • Herbs: Blessed thistle, fennel, alfalfa, and marshmallow root which can be found in stores or online. Preparations may be sold individually or in blends in capsules, tea, or tincture.

>> Learn more: Drinks to increase breast milk supply

Make other dietary changes to increase milk supply

Eating a healthy diet will help you feel more energetic and fuel your milk-making factory! Do not limit food, or go on a diet to lose pregnancy weight.

  • Get enough calories. Your body needs 300-500 calories to support the energy requirements for lactation.
  • Stay hydrated: Listen to your body and drink to thirst. Breastfeeding releases hormones that will make you feel thirsty. If your urine is clear or very pale yellow, you are drinking the right amount.
  • Take your vitamins! Doctors recommend continuing to take your prenatal vitamins while you are lactating. Ensuring adequate levels of vitamins B12 and D, zinc, calcium, and iron are important.
  • Snack! If you do not have time to prepare meals, on-the-go foods like a handful of almonds or walnuts, a peanut butter or tuna sandwich, some berries, or an apple can boost your energy level.

Follow these other tips for increasing milk supply fast

There are some other ways you can increase your milk supply fast, including:

  • Try getting enough sleep. If you can, build sleep into your day. Adequate rest is important to both physical and mental health.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco. While the American Academy of Pediatrics says an occasional drink is ok, habitual alcohol use can decrease your milk supply.  Tobacco use (including vaping) has been shown to decrease maternal milk production.
  • Check your pump. Not all pumps are created equal. A double-sided electric pump is recommended when efficient stimulation is needed to drain the breasts. Many insurance companies cover a pump as part of your maternity coverage. Talk to a lactation consultant to help you make the best choice for your situation.
  • Check your flanges. Making sure you are using the correct flange size is important for comfortable, complete breast drainage. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you are using the settings on your pump properly. Remember, pumping is not supposed to hurt!

How working with a lactation consultant can help increase milk supply fast

International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) are trained to assess breastfeeding from both a medical and a functional perspective.

A starting point when working with a lactation consultant is a careful assessment of positioning and your baby’s latch. Finding the right feeding position can make a difference in how effectively your baby is able to drain the breast.

The consultant will review your medical history to see if there are any physical or hormonal causes for low milk production. Conditions such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), hypothyroidism, or a history of breast/chest surgery can affect the body’s ability to attain full milk production.

Assessing babies for physical issues that can impair feeding success is also an important part of a lactation consultation. Common concerns when a baby is not gaining well can be tongue tie, history of prematurity, or birth trauma.  Babies are referred to their pediatrician for diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Lactation consultants can also provide information on selecting and using a breast pump.

How to tell if you need to increase your breast milk supply

There are several ways to tell your young baby is getting enough milk between weight checks at pediatrician appointments.

In the first few days, look for wet and dirty diapers every day. While babies may have fussy periods or cluster feed, you should see signs your baby is satisfied after breastfeeding.

It is normal for a newborn to lose a small percentage of weight around the time they leave the hospital, but baby should be at, or past, birthweight by about 2 weeks of age. If your baby is not gaining about an ounce a day after regaining birth weight, contact a lactation consultant for help.

Your baby’s pediatrician should be consulted any time you feel like your baby is not gaining weight. According to Ask Dr. Sears, a gain of about 4-7 oz each week for the first month, then a pound or two until 6 months can be expected.

If your older baby “falls off the curve,” it is helpful to know the normal growth rates for breastfed infants. Using growth charts that are based on exclusively breastfed infants can help to evaluate if your baby is gaining at the appropriate rate.

How fast can you actually increase your breast milk supply?

If your baby is a newborn and neither of you has any medical complications, increasing the frequency of feedings and pumping to further empty the breasts after feeding may result in a noticeable increase in milk production in 24-48 hours.

If you have a medical or hormonal condition that may have affected your menstrual cycle, fertility, or breast growth, or you have had breast tissue removed surgically, enlisting the help of a lactation consultant can be invaluable.

You may need to put in more effort to increase supply before you see results. A lactation consultant can help you tailor your milk-building plan to your unique situation.

What should I do if I can’t increase supply fast enough?

While working on increasing your milk, your lactation consultant and baby’s pediatrician will be able to help you develop a supplementation plan. Options for supplementing include donor breast milk or infant formula.

Your lactation consultant can help figure out how much supplement to offer and help you choose the method of feeding that will work best for you. Repeat visits to check baby’s weight gain progress will help you assess and transition off supplementation.

Any time your baby is not gaining weight, use any milk you have pumped to supplement baby. While it is common to worry about having enough milk stored in anticipation of returning to work, your baby needs the milk now. Remember, feed your baby, not the fridge!

Leslie Cree, BA IBCLC, has been a board-certified lactation consultant since 2007. Her introduction to breastfeeding came in 1996, with the birth of her daughter. Challenges with breastfeeding baby number two, and the subsequent research journey to resolve them, led to an interest in helping other mothers meet their feeding goals. While working as a hospital-based lactation consultant, Leslie participated in helping one hospital achieve Baby Friendly designation and another to redesignate. Her passion is to bring evidence-based information and compassionate care to her patients. Leslie has served as the immediate past chair of the Pennsylvania Breastfeeding Coalition and participates actively in advocacy and equity projects to reduce health disparities in at-risk populations. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.