I have returned to work after 8 weeks post-natal (I am now at 10 weeks) and although I pump with a top of the line electric pump, I am just not producing quite enough to keep up with my infant's appetite.

Plenty of people suggest just supplementing with formula, but others say doing so means my body won't be getting messages about how much baby really needs and the problem will just perpetuate itself and slowly get worse - because I'm not keeping up now, there is a reason my body already isn't getting the message well enough. Any suggestions?

2 Answers 2


I have a few suggestions based on my own experience and the experience of friends:

  1. Stay hydrated; dehydration will negatively impact your milk supply.

  2. Sleep (safely) with your baby. Increased access to night nursing will help maintain milk supply. Even if you only keep the baby in your bed part of the night it will help. Ideally you will become so practiced at night nursing that you and your baby will accomplish feeding without fully waking so your rest won't suffer.

  3. Fenugreek is an herb you can take to increase your milk supply.

  4. Try to pump more often during the day when you are at work so your body knows to keep producing milk. Keeping a photo of your baby or an item if clothing that smells like your baby can also help the pumping process.

  5. When you are home, wear your baby in a sling or carrier as much as possible. This increased closeness will encourage more frequent feeding and help milk supply.

  6. Don't be hard on yourself. Sometimes you can do everything "right" but your body just won't cooperate. Sometimes our lives are too complicated and busy, or our workplace isn't supportive or trying to pump enough milk is too stressful. That's ok; your baby needs you healthy and happy so do what is right for you.

  • NB: Fenugreek will make you and your milk smell like maple syrup. I found it gave my milk a slightly greenish tinge as well.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Nov 21, 2013 at 18:35

If you currently can't keep up with demand, supplementing with formula will not change the amount of milk you produce.

You will still produce what you currently manage, but will also be able to top up baby.

We did exactly this - giving all three of ours a bottle of formula as the last feed at night. Benefits:

  • I got to be useful at the nice end of the baby, as opposed to just cleaning!
  • They slept longer through the night
  • They got used to being able to take a bottle, so in a few situations I could feed them during the day if my wife needed time away (sometimes mothers do need to just get time away from babies - this is a good thing)
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    "I got to be helpful at the nice end" lol. From the studies I've read, you are right it won't mean you produce less, but it DOES mean you'll never catch up either. Since I pump, baby (and dad) get to use the bottle anyway. Nov 22, 2013 at 13:01

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