There are times when it’s just way too hard to tell the body what it ought to do. Wake up at six in the morning, for instance. Or resist the temptation of that third slice of cake. But arguably one of the most frustrating situations where there is an obvious misunderstanding is when it comes to milk supply during breastfeeding. The average woman might think that the body should be able to transform into a high-production milk factory that she is able to control, at least to some degree. However, it just so happens that the average woman will often be frustrated with milk supply. Many feel that they’re not producing enough milk, while others will want a bit of extra to freeze for future use. Yet others will want to stop milk supply, but still produce too much, but that’s a topic for another time.
In the meantime, it’s worth knowing that there are a few handy tips and tricks that can give the body milk factory a boost to speed up production. We’ve listed fifteen of these below. Hopefully, these will help bridge the gap between the mom who wants more milk and the body which is stubbornly not meeting this demand.
Do note, however, that in most cases, moms do actually produce enough milk for the little one’s consumption. But if the baby is not gaining enough weight, doesn’t seem sated after a feeding or is limp, do give the pediatrician a call. Signs like these indicate that more than a few milk supply tricks may be needed to ensure that the baby gets enough nutrition.
15 Begin ASAP
Generally, the earlier you begin feeding the baby, the easier it will be to produce just the right amount of milk. In fact, many doctors will recommend that you begin breastfeeding almost immediately after birth! For some, of course, this will not be possible. However, it’s still best to get started ASAP. Make sure to inform your health care providers in advance that you intend to breastfeed early.
If possible, you might also want to room in with him shortly after birth to make sure he has access to the breast at all times! There are some additional benefits of early breastfeeding for the mother and the baby. Early breastfeeding helps in improved lactation and lowers the loss of blood. It also helps the baby to bond with the mother naturally. The baby gets the warmth when mother holds the baby skin-to-skin and helps in regulating the heart rate and improving respiratory and oxygen saturation rate of the baby, in addition to enhancing milk production.
14 Be Exclusive
Make your baby and exclusive breastfeeder for as long as possible. Make the most out of your maternity leave and breastfeed all throughout it. Limit your baby’s time on the bottle. If he must, try to give him expressed breastmilk rather than formula. Women who breastfeed exclusively tend to have a steadier and greater milk supply. This is because your body produces just as much milk as it perceives your baby to need.
If your little one is sucking happily away, your boobs are likely to boost production to meet up with the demand! Other than this, there are some additional benefits also. The longer you breastfeed your baby, the lesser the chances you have of developing breast cancer. It also reduces the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer in the mother. Breastfeeding increases the bondage between the mother and the baby. What’s more, it helps in reducing weight. Yes you heard it right, breastfeeding is good for weight loss too!
13 Feed on Demand
Many new moms find it difficult to decide when to breastfeed and when to stop. It is best to feed your baby whenever he demands it. Speaking of demand, don’t turn breastfeeding into a scheduled thing. Typically, a baby will breastfeed every two to three hours. However, you will find that your baby gets hungry much earlier at times and, sometimes a bit later. That’s all perfectly fine.
In fact, it’s better if you go with the flow and let your baby decide when he needs to be fed. And once your baby is at the breast, don’t stop him until he wants to. If he wants to stop earlier or later than you think is right, just let him. Chances are, your little one is going to self-regulate and won’t overfeed. Usually your little one will not go beyond 4 hours without demanding for feeds.
12 Let It Flow
Before putting your baby on your breast, you might want to trigger your letdown reflex first. This is because sometimes babies become frustrated when they don’t get milk from the initial sucks. This can discourage them from breastfeeding, especially if you’ve already begun them on bottle feeding, where milk flow tends to be easier. This moment where milk begins to flow out of your breast is called the letdown reflex.
Sometimes being around your baby will trigger milk letdown immediately. If it doesn’t start flowing, however, try a hot compress or breast massage to get things going. It is common for new moms to feel concerned about the quantity of milk they are able to produce to feed the baby. Include green leaves and garlic in your diet to increase the flow of milk. Fennel seeds are also considered good as they contain omega 3 fats that are good for lactating mums.
11 Empty Breasts
Try to get your breasts as empty as possible each time. This helps you communicate to your own body that milk demand is high and, therefore, you’ll need to increase the supply. This is usually no problem when you’ve got a very hungry baby in your hands. Try to massage your breast while feeding so that different parts get drained at a time.
In some cases, however, your breasts might not quite feel empty after a feeding. When this happens, it’s time to take out that pump. This allows you to take just a bit more from your breasts, triggering increased milk production. Using breastfeeding pump also helps in preventing engorgement and sore nipples. It is very important for the mother to choose the right pump. Consult with your doctor before buying it and also learn the skills to use it. New moms should keep in mind that they won’t be able to extract much milk while expressing it the first few times.
10 Get A Good Latch
Your baby’s latch is just as essential to milk production as your breasts are! When your baby latches well, it’s less painful, which is a big incentive to continue breastfeeding. In addition, it’s easier to get your breasts fully drained in no time.
You want to make sure that your baby’s mouth is covering your entire areola, and that his lips are all puckered up. You might also want to bring out a breastfeeding pillow or a bunch of cushions. This can help you get nice and comfortable so that you can hold the right position for longer. Stroking the baby’s lips with the nipples helps the baby to open the mouth wider and get a good latch. When you don’t feel hurt while breastfeeding you can be sure your baby is latching well. Another sign of a good latch is when the baby starts to suck slowly and then pauses and then starts again.
9 Pump It Up
Many moms find that when they have to get back to work or be away from their babies for some reason, their milk supply drops. Again, this is because of the simple principle that emptying your breasts more stimulates more milk production. And while situations in which you and your baby are apart are inevitable, there is one useful alternative: the breast pump.
Breast pump also helps your partner to share the responsibility of feeding and you will get a little more time for yourself. If you are not a stay-at-home mom, you might even want to invest in an electric pump, which allows you to pump faster while you’re at work. You can even boost pumping performance by getting a double pump! Breast pump also helps in increasing the quantity of milk production in moms. You need to choose the right pump that suits your breast.
8 Begin At The End
When you’re breastfeeding, there’s one important rule to follow. Start breastfeeding at the breast where your baby fed last. That is, if your little one started with the left breast and ended with the right, the next time your baby feeds, start at the right and then and at the left. This is because the breast that your baby sucked on last may not be as empty as the other one.
After all, he may have felt full before he finished that one. And even if you pumped that breast, there may still be parts that haven’t been drained fully yet. This can help you empty both breasts as often as possible, meaning better milk supply. New moms find it a bit difficult to know when their breast is empty. You need to keep a close look on the baby to understand that. When your baby stops swallowing after sucking, that is an indication that your breast has become empty.
7 Taking Away the Pacifier
If you’ve been offering your little one a pacifier to calm down, now may be a great time to stop. While the pacifier may be handy at times, sucking on it can affect breast milk supply, especially when it’s done in the first couple of months! This is because your baby associates sucking with both feedings and comfort. He may therefore be less inclined to do it on your breast if he has another source of it!
As an alternative, when your baby is crying, try sticking your breast into his mouth rather than that plastic thing. Don’t get us wrong: you can still use the pacifier, of course. Breastfeeding regularly instead of using the pacifier is not only good for the baby but also for the mom. Just save it for the later months when you’ve established milk supply. You can use the pacifier during an emergency like when going out or when you are doing some work in the kitchen.
6 Take Off The Shirt
Some moms find that breastfeeding is more effective when it’s done skin-to-skin. This allows both you and your baby to experience the full sensations of breastfeeding, making the whole thing more pleasant for the two of you. Many moms also find that it’s easier to achieve a better latch this way.
But the benefits of skin-to-skin breastfeeding don’t stop there! Studies show that it can also result in better thermoregulation, healthier heart rates and superior mother and child bonding. It also keeps your baby healthier and the bones become stronger too. Breastfeeding for longer durations also helps to delay ovulation that means no menstruation. Both mom and baby can remain healthy and free from diseases. So you don’t have to take too many leaves from your office if you are a working women. So when you need to breastfeed, go on and look for a private nook and take off your shirt. It’ll help you loads!
5 Get Some Rest
For many moms, all it takes to boost milk supply is just a little bit more rest. Milk supply is affected by your stress levels. When you’re stressed out, your body perceives this as not having enough resources in the environment. This is what would happen in a famine, after all. Your body will then attempt to conserve energy by reducing the amount of milk available.
So if you’re beginning to feel that your milk supply is going down, do take a pause! You might want to try meditation or taking up a hobby to help bring your stress levels down. And in some cases, maybe a nap is all you need! Avoid taking coffee and tea and keep your bed room dark and clean so that you can get a good sleep. Plan your schedule wisely so that you get enough time to rest especially when your baby is sleeping.
4 Room In
We’re not talking about hospital rooming in here. We mean that you might want to take your baby into your own room during the night. Studies show that women who sleep with their babies are more likely to feed more often during the night, resulting in greater milk supply overall.
However, you might be concerned about rolling over your baby and smothering him in your sleep. When you take precautions, the chances of that happening are pretty low. But if you’re still concerned, you can take your baby’s crib into your room. You don’t have to sleep in the same bed to reap the benefits of rooming in! There are some necessary steps you need to take before sleeping with your baby on the same bed. Make sure your bed is firm and keep pillows and sheets away from the baby so that he doesn’t feel too hot. You should keep your baby warm but not hot.
3 Drink Up
Sometimes a low milk supply is simply the result of dehydration. After all, producing breast milk requires water. But your body needs water as well! If you don’t drink enough of it, it can be difficult for your body to strike a balance between what you need and what the baby needs. In order to stay hydrated, it’s important to take sips of water regularly.
This is especially if you work out or have a particularly fast-paced job. It helps to carry around a water bottle so you have a constant reminder to do so! Making changes to your diet also helps to increase the quantity of milk production. Leafy vegetables like cabbage should be a part of your daily diet. Taking yogurt also helps. Go out during weekends for small vacations so that you feel relaxed and happy. That helps new moms to adjust with added responsibilities. And don’t forget your bottle of water at these times.
The word galactagogue is quite a mouthful. But what it means is simply anything that can increase your milk supply. Some of the most popular, and safest, options are fenugreek and oatmeal. Some moms even like to snack on “lactation cookies” which are basically just oatmeal cookies!
Do note, however, that even if these methods are effective, they must be used alongside regular breastfeeding or pumping. No matter how much galactagogue you take in, milk supply is not likely to increase if you’re not emptying your breasts regularly. You can take any food that can help you increase your breast milk quantity. Mothers who breastfeed their babies should increase the consumption of milk as it helps them to replenish the calcium that has been lost during breastfeeding. If you like eating fish, then make it a routine to include fish once or twice in your weekly diet.
1 Join a Support Group
Finally, you might want to join a breastfeeding support group such as the La Leche League to help you out. New moms are confused about so many things. Sometimes they may not understand matters fully simply because they have just entered the world of parenthood. That’s when the support group helps. This is nothing but a community providing moms a secure place to discuss anything they want to know about breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding groups such as these are helpful because they usually gather together tips and tricks about getting enough milk, breast care, weaning, and scheduling from different moms with different experiences. Some advice may even come from fellow moms across the globe! Because of this, it’s more likely that you will find something that works for you. It also helps that support groups are, well, supportive. They can give you just the moral support you need to cope with low milk supply.