Healthy living

Signs your breast milk is flowing

  • A change in your baby’s sucking rate from rapid sucks to suckling and swallowing rhythmically, at about one suckle per second.
  • Some mothers feel a tingling or pins and needles sensation in the breast.
  • Sometimes there is a sudden feeling of fullness in the breast.
  • While feeding on one side your other breast may start to leak milk.
  • You may become thirsty.

Your milk flow can be affected by emotions like anxiety, embarrassment, tension or extreme tiredness. Being relaxed when breastfeeding helps your milk flow.

Breast compression

Breast compressions can help you to feed effectively if your baby is:

  • falling asleep whilst feeding
  • slow to gain weight
  • feeding frequently
  • taking a long time to feed.

By compressing your breast you will encourage your milk to flow which will provide your baby with more milk.

Place your hand around the breast close to your chest wall and compress your breast without causing pain. When your baby is no longer drinking release the pressure.

When your baby starts to suckle again he or she may be drinking but if your baby doesn’t resume suckling well, compress your breast again. Keep doing this until your breast feels soft and drained and baby is no longer drinking whilst compressing. Then offer your baby the other breast and if he or she becomes tired start your compressions again.

How your milk supply increases

As your baby grows their appetite increases and he or she will demand more feeds. Your breast milk will increase to match your baby’s needs if you breastfeed more frequently. Growth spurts occur at anytime but are often around 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months.

Remember your breasts are never empty. As your baby feeds, your body makes more breast milk.

You can build up your milk supply by:

  • feeding more often
  • offering both breasts twice
  • putting baby back to the breast 20 to 30 minutes after a feed
  • expressing breast milk after feeds
  • avoiding giving formula feeds, water or juice
  • resting as much as possible – a few quiet days at home are helpful
  • eating well and drinking when thirsty
  • gently stroking or compressing your breasts during feeds.

Where to get help

Breastfeeding Centre of WA

  • Counselling and appointments 8.00am to 4.00pm Monday to Friday
  • Phone: (08) 6458 1844
  • More information about Breastfeeding Centre of WA

Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA)

  • National Breastfeeding Helpline available 24 hours, 7 days a week
  • Phone: 1800 mum 2 mum (1800 686 268)
  • Visit the ABA website (external site)

Ngala Parenting Line

  • Phone: (08) 9368 9368 – 8.00am to 8.00pm 7 days a week
  • Outside metro area – Free call 1800 111 546 (free from land line only)
  • Visit the Ngala website (external site)

You can also:


Breastfeeding Centre of WA

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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