Q: I was exclusively breastfeeding when my doctor told me to add formula. Since doing this, my milk supply has gone down. Any ideas on how to increase it?
A: Like many things in life, a mother's production of breast milk operates according to the law of supply and demand. In the majority of cases, the more milk our babies demand, the more milk our bodies produce for them. Anytime we nurse our babies less or they demand less milk, our production and supply of milk begins to diminish. The good news is that as long as you're nursing and producing milk, you'll probably be able to increase your supply without too much trouble. The first step is to nurse your baby before you offer the bottle at each feeding. Let your baby get as much milk from your breasts as possible. If you don't have the opportunity to nurse your baby during the day, you might want to pump your breasts and store the milk. Pumping your breasts works just like nursing in terms of increasing your milk production.
Make sure that you're taking good care of yourself—getting as much rest as you can, eating a nutritious diet, and drinking plenty of liquids. Believe it or not, there's such as thing as a "lactation cookie" that you might want to snack on. One popular brand is Milkin' Cookies, created by two physicians who breastfed their babies. If your milk supply doesn't seem to increase with these simple steps and you're determined to continue breastfeeding, be sure to ask your physician or a lactation consultant about other options you can try.