Breastfeeding is best, or at least that is what we are always told. If you want to look at this from a medical and scientific standpoint, then the phrase is right, breastmilk is the better option for a baby. It even says it right on the containers of formula. However, whichever way mom chooses to feed her baby is good in our books!
If you are a new mom who is about to give birth, or just has, and wants to breastfeed then this is the article for you. Nursing moms have a whole set of worries on their mind. Is the baby getting enough? Is my milk good enough? Am I running dry? Chances are, your baby is getting just what they need, and you are not drying up. A quick visit to a lactation consultant will ease most of your worries.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to make sure that your milk is not only the strongest and as nutritious as it can be. We all want what is best for our baby, so if we can improve the quality of our breastmilk, why not. If you want to ensure that your milk will not run out, that is also great. Being able to pump excess milk to create a stockpile, or even donate it to moms who are struggling to nurse is a wonderful thing as well.
No matter your reason, here are 15 things you can do to make sure that your milk is super-fortified to meet all your baby’s needs and more.
15 Eat, Eat And Eat Some More
The best way to ensure that your milk comes in and stays in is to make sure that you are eating. Those first few days when you are getting to know your little baby can all be a gigantic blur, and it can be very hard to make sure that moms eat and take care of themselves. Mom’s who are nursing need to make sure that they are eating, and eating properly.
Thought the days of eating extra calories were over? Think again, a mom who is breastfeeding still needs the extra calories that she was consuming while pregnant. She is, after all, still eating for two. She also needs to make sure she is eating the right kind of foods, but we will discuss this later. Don’t worry about weight gain, moms who breastfeed tend to lose the baby weight faster.
14 Don’t Stick To A Schedule
When you are a new mom, there is bound to be a lot of people who are just dying to give you some advice, even if you don’t want it. One of the biggest pieces of advice you are bound to get is to make sure you get that baby on a schedule. If you are planning on breastfeeding, then you can just throw this piece of information out the window.
It is not impossible to put a breastfed baby on a schedule, but their feedings can be very hard to track. Breastmilk digests a lot quicker than formula, so they have tendencies to want to eat more often. They also go through growth spurts, with cluster feeds, or they just want to be nursed for comfort. By allowing your baby the opportunity to nurse whenever they want, you are going to ensure you build up a nice supply. The more they suck, the more milk your body makes.
13 Avoid Formula
Now, we don’t want this article to read as an anti-formula campaign because it is not. Formula is a wonderful thing and has saved the lives of many babies since it’s creation. However, if you want to ensure that you are building a good supply of breastmilk, you will want to avoid formula if you are able. If you do not have an urgent need to supplement with formula, please don’t.
When it comes to breastfeeding, our bodies work on a supply and demand system. The more the baby demands it, the more the body supplies. When you offer supplement or top-offs of formula, it may place more time between feedings, so your body will just assume your baby does not require much milk at all. After all, we can not explain to our body what we are doing, it goes strictly on the baby’s needs. As tiring as it may seem, it is best to just let the little one nurse whenever and however long he/she needs too.
12 Protein Is Not Just A Workout Powder!
We already discussed how a breastfeeding mom needs to eat more to ensure she has a good supply of milk, but I promised that we would talk about what were some specific things to make sure to eat. Well, I am delivering - the first thing a mom should make sure to eat is a lot of protein. We all know that protein is essential for any good diet, it is what gives our body energy, and it is what can strengthen your breastmilk.
If you want to see the numbers, a woman who is not pregnant or breastfeeding needs about 46 grams of protein everyday. A woman who is breastfeeding requires about 71 grams per day, that is just about double the amount. Your best source of protein is fish and seafood, as they are very high in protein. If seafood isn’t really your cup of tea, any lean meat product will provide a lot of protein. You can also find protein in eggs, cottage cheese, and milk.
11 Fat Is Not A Dirty Word
We have all grown up to be conditioned to stay away from fatty foods, and this is good advice. While it is good advice, it is a little misunderstood, there are foods that contain good fat that we should all be eating, breastfeeding or not. Women who are breastfeeding should increase their consumption of foods that are considered “good fats”.
So, where can we find these so-called good fats? Well, in a lot of food. Foods such as eggs, chia seeds, salmon, butter, and avocado are all considered foods that have a high good fat content. Good fat will help to strengthen your breastmilk both in quality and quantity, and it will also help satisfy mom, whose body needs the extra fat to keep up with the toll breastfeeding can take. Rest easy, fat can be a good thing and when you are nursing, it may even become your best friend.
10 Embrace The Germs
Nothing scares a new mom more than germs. Those pesky little beings that can enter our system and make us very sick. If they can make full-grown humans sick, we are even more scared to think of what they could do to a little baby. Now, germs can make your baby sick, that is why it is advised no one who is ill should come for a newborn visit, but they can also be your best friend when it comes to providing milk that will protect your baby from getting sick.
When mom is out in public, shaking people’s hands, or even kissing their little baby she is picking up germs and antigens. What happens is part science and part magic. Her body takes those germs and produces antibodies in the breastmilk that is then passed on to her baby. It is a newborn's only line of defense when it comes to protecting themselves against illness until they are older for vaccines. You are making your own little perfect medicine.
9 Iron Is Your New Best Friend!
Iron is not just for Popeye. Popeye used to boast that he ate so much spinach, and that is how he is able to stay so strong. The reason this is true is because spinach is full of iron. Any food that contains iron is considered a super-food to a breastfeeding mom. Iron is something that our body needs when we are pregnant, as it helps carry oxygen throughout your body. It is equally important if you are planning on breastfeeding.
Breastmilk itself does not carry a lot of iron through to the baby, but it is enough for the baby to digest. At such a young age they are not able to handle the same amount of iron that we are, so our bodies screen it and supply the perfect amount. A baby is born with enough iron to last him until he is about 6 months old, so it is important that mom is still providing iron for her little one, and why nursing until a year is so important, because they will likely not start eating iron-rich foods until that point.
8 Herbal Heaven!
If you are a new mom who loves herbal tea, then you are in luck, it is very beneficial to building a strong supply. Herbal teas are sometimes intimidating when pregnant and nursing, as we know there are ones that have the potential to be dangerous. Stick with this list and you will be covered! Raspberry leaf tea is one that is very good to take when pregnant, and it is the same when breastfeeding. It is full of iron, calcium, and magnesium which are all things that contribute to healthy breastmilk.
Some other teas that you can try are; rose hip, oatgrass, stevia, hibiscus, and alfalfa. Another herbal tea that are very beneficial is nettle tea. Nettle tea contains calcium, iron and vitamin A. It is a tea that is known to increase and enrich your supply of breastmilk, and who doesn’t want that.
7 Take A Walk In The Sun!
There are many reasons why it is always a good idea for a new mom to get out in the sun. It is very beneficial for her to get out and moving about when she feels recovered enough from childbirth. It also helps the little one get into a good sleep pattern when you are trying to get them used to the difference between night and day. It is also a good source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D was thought to be the only vitamin that was not transferred through breastmilk by medical practitioners.
This is changing, as they are doing more studies that show if mom gets enough Vitamin D that there may be a chance that a small amount is getting transferred through her milk. While the studies are continuing, this is promising news and another reason it is good to get out there in the sun. It is still advised to be giving your baby a Vitamin D supplement while breastfeeding.
6 Watch Out For The Gassy Foods!
If you are one who is confident in the amount of milk you are producing, you may still be interested in how to make sure your milk is the best it can be for your baby. One thing you always must keep in mind is that whatever you eat the baby eats, it has not changed much since you were pregnant. This means that there are certain things you may need to avoid when breastfeeding.
It is advised to still be limiting the amount of caffeine consumption, as this can irritate the baby’s stomach. It is also very important to make sure you stay away from any foods that are known to make you a little on the gassy side. Foods like beans, cabbage, and brussel sprouts should all be handled with care. The gas elements to these foods can be transferred to your baby, which in turn would make them gassy and incredibly crabby, and no one wants that.
5 Some Lab Work
This one may seem like a little bit of a science experiment, so if you are really committed you may be interested in this. Breastmilk is separated in foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk is a clearer watery substance that is fitting their thirst needs. Hindmilk comes later, and it is the fattier milk that has a lot of the nutrition in it. If you are a mom who pumps, you will most likely see this when you have a bottle of breastmilk sitting out. You will see what looks like settled, creamy white milk on the bottom, with a clearer liquid on top.
If you wanted to give your baby a feed that was more hindmilk, hence fattier, you could separate the fore and hind milk and add more hindmilk to another bottle. Or do a top-off with that hindmilk. This is a lot of work, that most women don’t want to do (and usually they don’t have too) but it is something else you can try.
4 Don’t Cut The Feed Short
Speaking of foremilk and hindmilk, it is very important not to cut any of the feeds short, and always give your baby a chance to feed from both breasts. Foremilk is the milk the baby gets first, with the hindmilk coming in later. If a feeding is too short, there is a chance that the baby is getting mostly foremilk, and while foremilk is good, hindmilk is better. Hindmilk is where most of the nutrients are.
There is a reason that everyone tells you to make sure you give time and offer both breasts when feeding, and why you need to remember which breast you ended the last feeding on, so that you start with that breast at the next feeding. This is to ensure that the baby is getting enough of both forms of milk. Some babies are lazy eaters, and they will eat until they are satisfied and want to stop, when they really should be eating more. It is important to try your best to get baby to eat from both breasts at a feeding.
3 Take A Breastfeeding Vacation!
OK, it is not really a vacation, sorry to tease you about that. There is a trend going on where mom and baby need to take a breastfeeding vacation. That means that mom and baby lock themselves in a room for 2-3 days and do nothing but snuggle and breastfeed on demand. Get dad to help around the house and with any other kids around, and just relax with your baby.
This will not only help you build the bond with your baby, but it will ensure that you build a good supply. By feeding on demand and only focusing on your baby and their needs, it will signal to your body what to do and how much to make. Sometimes, the best way to build supply is the simplest, and it is just to nurse, nurse and nurse some more. It can get tiring, but make sure you bring some movies with you.
2 Get Comfortable With Galactagogue!
That’s a long word. A Galactagogue is a substance that is used to help women increase their milk supply. There are women out there who need an extra little help and support to increase their supply. Either their body is just not making enough, or their little babe likes to eat a lot more than the average baby. This is where a Galactagogue comes in handy.
If you want to find this naturally, you can find it in fenugreek, blessed thistle, and alfalfa. There are teas or vitamins that you can find containing one or more of these natural Galactagogues. If that doesn’t quite do it for you, there are prescription medications that you can take that contain Galactagogue to help increase your supply or give it just the little boost that it needs. It is important to remember that for a Galactagogue to work, it is important that mom is still doing other things to increase supply, like feeding on demand.
1 Do Nothing
The good news is that most of the time, a woman needs to do absolutely nothing to make sure her milk is good enough for her baby. Our bodies were designed for this, and chances are there is nothing you need to do to make sure that your breastmilk is strong enough to take care of your little baby. When it comes to making sure you have enough, there is nothing more beneficial than just following your baby’s cues.
By simply going by supply and demand, you will have enough. Your body makes what your baby needs, and it changes over time as your baby ages, amazing right? So, if you are a new mom, or about to be a new mom and are worried about your breastfeeding journey, rest assured that your body knows what to do. If you are still concerned, find a great lactation consultant, they will be able to help you through your breastfeeding journey.
Sources: kellymom.com, healthyeating.sfgate.com, growingupherbal.com, bellybelly.com,