If pregnancy and childbirth followed the expected guidelines, life would be so much easier. For instance, it should go something like: baby is conceived, baby is born, baby breastfeeds, and then baby grows up big and strong. But that is just too easy, now, isn’t it? Of course, parenting is anything but easy!
Unfortunately, breastfeeding isn’t always the walk-in-the-park it ought to be. Although it is a natural and biologically sound process, breastfeeding can have a range of challenges that new moms face. It is super important, first up, that women know they aren’t doing anything wrong at all if their baby isn’t breastfeeding properly. It is a way more common problem than many think.
So, if there are breastfeeding troubles at bay, there are also breastfeeding solutions at hand. There are many small, and sometimes bigger, things that moms can do to get their baby to have a rich and nourishing drink.
If breastfeeding isn’t clicking properly the first go, just try, try, and try again. Also, try theses handy little tips to speed up the milk supply and keep a steady flow going before nature has even caught up.
15 Nurse Often, And Longer
The thing with breast milk, that we often don’t realize at first, is that it can work on a demand and supply basis. This seems illogical since one might think the milk is on some auto-pump, replenishing itself when ready. But realistically, the quicker the milk is drained, the quicker it refills.
Therefore, if you feed your baby at more regular intervals and make each interval last as long as possible, the more and more regularly the milk is going to restock itself and replenish the supplies. So basically, breastfeeding is something that you just shouldn’t rush. The quicker the feed, the more the milk that is already produced will stay in there. You want to empty that supply so that more milk can be made. All in all, just take your sweet time while breastfeeding!
14 Check The Latch
Now, there is really only one way for the milk to get from the source of the supply to the hungry baby’s tummy. If this direct latch isn’t working properly, the milk isn’t going to flow as well and the supply of milk will be slowed down, since it won’t be replenishing itself as frequently, based on the demand and supply function.
Of course, the way for the baby to feed is through the nipple. This takes more than just the nipple being presented to the baby’s mouth. Babies do have instincts to latch onto the nipple, but if the positioning or latching is wrong, the milk just won’t flow out nicely. Make sure your baby has a firm latch and their head is tilted at the right angle to get the milk pumping out. The quicker it pumps, the quicker it refills.
13 Feed When Baby Wants To Be Fed
There is an old notion that goes something like ‘listen to the body, not to the clock’. Just because the baby had a solid feed an hour ago and the feeding schedule says to wait for another two hours, but the baby is hungry right now, is no reason to ignore nature’s calling.
Sometimes bubs might have had a small feed, enough to satisfy the moment, and then less than an hour later wants another feed. Basically, there is no point denying the baby some food when he or she wants it. If bubs is hungry, get the breast out. Otherwise, you’ll have a crying baby and a breast full of milk, when the baby could be satisfied and the breast could be producing more milk, hence quickening the supply of milk. Nature knows best, more often than not.
12 A Healthy Diet Means A Healthy Flow
So much of pregnancy and childbearing comes back to a healthy and well-balanced diet. When it comes to conception, a good diet means things are more likely. When it comes to pregnancy, a good diet means the body is going to bounce back even better. When it comes to having enough energy be a mom, it’s all about diet. And surprise, surprise, when it comes to speeding up the milk supply, a good diet makes all the difference.
There are certain foods that can be slipped into your diet to help keep the breast milk supply flowing at a good pace. Things such as garlic, cumin, sesame seeds, basil, and dill are thought to encourage breast milk to produce quickly. All of these go really well with green leafy vegetables and lentils, which is ideal since they are also on the list of breast milk-producing foods. So, now you know what you need in your next salad!
11 Hydrate To Lactate
Water, water, water. This wonderful substance is really the elixir of life for so many reasons. And here is just another reason to make sure you get your recommended 2 liters each and every day, especially when there is a hungry baby on the case.
It does make total sense, given that breast milk is a liquid, that you need plenty of water in your system to produce it quickly. Without enough water, lactation becomes harder since the internal body is essentially drier. Drinking water is going to do wonders just not for the production of breastmilk, but also for the actual feeding process, helping the milk to slide out at a good consistency for the baby. And remember, the more baby drinks, the less time it takes for the milk to refill.
10 Consider A Galactagogue
This word is more than a blurted mouthful, but a handy strategy to know if the milk supply just isn’t up to speed. A galactagogue is basically any substance that increases the production and supply of breast milk. The most common example of this is a herbal galactagogue.
Some things that act as herbal galactagogue are fenugreek, blessed thistle, and alfalfa. They might seem like just more wordy mouthfuls, but there is evidence to support them helping to speed up milk supply! Now, you don’t need a galactagogue just because one day there was a drop less milk. This is something that is called upon if you’re having consistently bad milk flows and your baby just isn’t getting enough nutrients. These are good to use if you want to avoid formula substitutions altogether.
9 Try ‘Switch Nursing’
Humans tend to be creatures of habit, that stems from a very early age. When young kids first pick up a pencil in their right hand, they automatically keep on using their right hand to write and do all their other primary fine motor functions. We just aren’t made to be automatically ambidextrous.
When it comes to breastfeeding, however, this is something you really want to focus on using both sides of the body to achieve. It can be comfortable to get into the motion of always latching the baby onto the right or left side, but this doesn’t help your breast supply production pace. If you do ‘switch nursing’ which is simply swapping the sides of feeding, you will notice a quicker flow of milk. Just make a routine of right in the morning and left in the evening!
8 Pump The Girls After Nursing
This point comes back to the whole demand and supply principle of milk production. Sometimes babies will have bigger feeds than other times. If the baby has finished nursing (and they will make it clear when they have!), but there is still a whole lot of milk remaining inside, it is better to empty the container, so to speak.
If you consistently empty the breasts after each feeding session, automatically they will start refilling. Your body knows that there is meant to be two breasts full of milk, so if it senses that they are empty, the stores will be replenished quickly enough. Plus, if you pump, then you’ll always have a bottle on hand to appease a hungry baby later on!
7 Get Some Prescription Meds
There are some instances where some medical intervention is needed. Of course, this type of supply-boosting method will only be followed with a doctor’s recommendation. Some prescription medications that are proven and approved to increase the production and supply of breastmilk include Metoclopramide (Reglan), Domperidone (Motilium), and sulpiride (Eglonyl, Dolmatil, Sulpitil, Sulparex, Equemote).
The main reason that you would need to follow this medical pathway is if there are low prolactin levels. Prolactin is the hormone that is responsible for getting the girls flowing, so if the levels are low or even a no-show, you will need some serious intervention. This kind of problem will be noticed early on either by yourself or the midwife during the initial feeding.
6 Avoid Formula Feeds
The whole point of whipping out the natural feeding supply for a newborn baby is because the baby is hungry. If the baby isn’t hungry, there is going to be less need for the milk to flow out. One of the main reasons why a baby wouldn’t be feeling hungry is because they’ve already been fed.
Many moms are worried about the baby not getting enough vitamins and minerals from breastmilk alone. In response, they supplement breastfed meals with some nutrient boosting formula. This is good in some ways, but it makes the baby less reliant on the breast milk production. Since the breasts refill on a supply and demand basis, less demand for the milk means that the supply pace is slowed significantly. A better alternative is to pump the breast milk and then add a portion of formula to the bottle, making it a better mix.
5 Watch Your Positioning While Feeding
Making sure that the baby is actually feeding when feeding time comes can become like the ultimate juggling act. First of all, mom has to be comfortable, the milk source has to be sitting properly, and the baby has to do its part in latching on.
All of this can go astray if the position of the breast is slightly off balance. There are many different positions that give the best flow of milk. Some include the cradle hold, the crossover hold, the football hold, and the side-lying position. All of these help the breastmilk to flow directly down to the nipple, releasing it quicker than other positions. In doing so, the supply and demand principle is on track and the breast milk will reproduce at a faster rate.
4 Check Up With A Lactation Consultant
If there are many issues getting in the way of a satisfying feed for the baby and a stress-free time for mom, it might a good idea to consult with a professional. Lactation consultants are experts in their field and can address the reasons why the milk supply is taking its time to produce.
It might be things like positioning of breastfeeding or there might be something going on with a hormonal imbalance. Either way, a lactation consultant can help get you back on track to feed the baby in the most effective way. Once the feeding process is back under control, the milk supply will start speeding up. If you do have concerns even before the baby is born, you can have prenatal appointments with a lactation consultant.
3 Make Sure The Girls Are Supported Right
The female body requires a lot of support. There is one part of the female anatomy that is pretty demanding with its support levels since puberty first strikes. The chest region needs a lot of attention, and this certainly increases once a baby is using it to get all the nutrients required for growth and development.
Taking care of the breasts has never been more important than it is now. Just like you’ve had to change bras from age 13 to 23, breastfeeding is time to go back to the bra shop and get fitted by an expert. You don’t want to mess around with a dodgy underwire or a loose strap when the girls are now responsible for holding your baby’s food. Investing in a good bra will help support the breasts, making it easier for them to continually produce milk at a steady rate.
2 Avoid Hormonal Birth Control
Once the baby has popped, many women have no immediate plans to go through that whole rollercoaster journey again. There are many forms of contraception that work well after giving birth (the baby itself being a fine form!). However, it is best to steer clear of hormonal based contraceptives, such as the pill.
Basically, the body is already dealing with a whole show of hormones after giving birth. The hormonal levels have been changing since conception first happened 9 months ago. Over those 9 months, hormones such as estrogen have been steadily rising. Now, estrogen is dropping lower and other hormones, such as prolactin, are rising. Popping a pill filled with various hormones including estrogen and progesterone is going to confuse an already confused body. It is best to seek alternate forms of contraception that don’t involve hormones.
1 Make It A Nursing Vacation
Sometimes, time is all it takes to make everything better. The supply of milk for the baby is sensitive to many things. If mom is feeling rushed, if the baby is feeling rushed, and if time just isn’t in favor, the production of breast milk can slow down significantly.
One thing that many women do to increase their flow of breast milk is to take a ‘nursing vacation’. This doesn’t have to mean literally going away to a tropical paradise and feeding the baby, but rather just dedicating solid time to feeding. Sometimes this can just be lying in bed all weekend while encouraging the baby to feed and regularly pumping the breasts. Some calming time like this can help to reset the pace in which breast milk is produced and keep things on track with a steadier flow.
Sources: Bellybelly.com.au, Kellymom.com, Breastfeedingbasics.com