Lactation Advice from Asia

In UK and US prenatal breastfeeding classes, much of the emphasis seems to be on how to initiate breastfeeding and get the baby latched on –- not much, if anything, on how to maintain the supply or boost milk production. It is often either implied, assumed, or taught that as baby’s demand on the breast increases, breast milk production and supply will naturally increase. You’ve probably heard this oft quoted mantra, “Feed baby on demand.” While allowing the infant to frequently feed at the breast is one of the most important ways of increasing breast milk production, there may be a few other simple things you could do to help your milk supply as well.

It’s always fascinating to me to find out what is being advised elsewhere, and whether practices are the same in different countries and cultures. When I was in Singapore, this was the lactation advice I received from a hospital lactation consultant:

  • Make sure to pump out the other side even though you are only feeding baby one side during a session
  • Drink some hot liquid one hour before the breastfeed session (e.g., soups, a hot drink etc.)
  • Hand massage the breast one hour before the breastfeed session (this is done by using the flat palm of the hand instead of the fingers, and going in miniature circles around the circumference of the breast tissue).
  • Get plenty of rest!

If you want to go more traditional, there is a certain type of soup called the ‘green papaya fish bone soup’ which is used widely for breastfeeding women in Chinese circles in Singapore ( It is purported to help boost one’s breast milk supply. In fact, it was a daily staple on the confinement menu at the hospital I was in for all meals! After it is brewed, you would only drink the soup itself, and not eat any of the ingredients. I’m not sure how effective it is, but it probably helped that I was drinking hot liquids often!


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