So new baby is finally here. Now on to the next stage! Some of you may have little milk at first and need to know few tricks on how to have more milk to breastfeed your baby. While, there are some conditions that may affect the production of breast milk, in majority of cases where women find themselves with poor milk supply, it is due to factors that can be corrected. In this article, I will use my personal experience plus a little research I have done to explain how you can go about increasing milk production to feed your baby naturally.
Breast milk is wonderful for baby’s growth and overall health. Medical institutions all over the globe advocate that mothers breastfeed their children during the first 6 months of life, except in some special cases.
That being said, I believe that each mother knows best even when formula feeding. At the end it is about the life balance for all. That’s something that is not less important for the health of the baby and the mom. If you are willing and able, breastfeeding is the way to go. But if not, do not feel bad about it. Love is the best thing you give to the baby.
Lets look at the many natural ways to improve breast milk production.
Breastfeed your baby all the time
Breastfeeding your baby frequently is the major means of increasing the production of your breast milk in my experience. This is because the system of breast milk production is dependent on the demand and supply. Therefore if your baby sucks more, your brain will also be stimulated to produce more breast milk. In fact, according to research when a baby sucks the breast, it elicits the suckling reflex, which increases your ability to produce more milk. To increase your milk production, I advise that you breastfeed your baby every two to three hours throughout the day. In the early days of your baby’s life, even if your baby sleeps for more than two hours at a time, wake him/her up and breastfeed. At night, do not allow your baby to sleep throughout the night, wake your little one up and breastfeed at least once.
Do not limit the time you breastfeed your child
When you experience decreased supply, do not think that scheduling feeding time or reducing how much you feed them on each breast will increase production, it will do the opposite. As explained earlier, breast feeding the baby more will also increase milk production. So do your best to feed your baby both breasts during each nursing session to increase total milk production.
Make yourself comfortable for a long sit. Stock up on water and healthy snacks. Pad yourself and the baby with pillows. Gently caress your baby’s shoulders and head gently as you nurse. You can also have your favorite tv show playing on the background. Make it a pick-nick on the couch!
Carrying your baby on you also stimulates breast milk producing hormones. There are various ways to carry your little one. And people have been doing it since ancient times. Babywearing is making a strong comeback integrating into mainstream of modern parenting. I am happy to see this. More and more dads wear babies as well! You can find a baby carrier that fits you well whether you are a petite babywearing mom, or just looking for a simple carrier to use. You can also get a basic diy baby carrier if you need.
Babywearing a new baby may take some getting used to. Even though I used baby carrier for my first one, I had to re-learn some things and get a hang of it all over again when my second baby came around. Once you get comfortable babywearing you can even master breastfeeding while you carry your baby. You may want to consider this when you are choosing a baby carrier to accommodate for breastfeeding as well.
Sleep as much as you can and always stay relaxed
While it is not easy to get enough sleep with newborns, you have to do your best. According to researchers, there is an increase in milk production and enhanced milk letdown in nursing mothers who are relaxed. Personally, I sleep when my baby sleeps, this helps me get enough sleep and relax at the same time. I also try as much as possible not to engage in social activities until my baby is older than six months, and I get a babysitter to help me out during that period too. For food, you can order meals, hire a cook or have friends and your husband to cook at home for you. For me, listening to calm music helps me relax better and results in good mother-baby time.
Drink as much water as you can, don’t think it is too much. Drinking clean water is one the most vital elements to producing enough milk for your baby. Have water bottles around the areas of your home that you frequent. You can use glass or steel water bottles to be on the healthier and more environmentally friendly side.
Quality of water can be enhanced by keeping it in a copper vessel for 8 hours before drinking. Doing so “charges” your water for better hydration.
Your diet matters
In my experience, eating a lot of milk producing food (called galactagogues) like oatmeal, barley, millet and quinoa can boost milk production. Also, I have found that spices like fennel, ginger and turmeric; and fruits and nuts such as brewer’s yeast, flaxseed, almonds, and sesame seeds can greatly enhance your milk supply. Other delicacies that are effective in increasing milk production include: Mother’s Milk tea and moringa powder. To be able to meet up the demands of breastfeeding, especially if you are going exclusive, you may need an additional 500 calories daily.
Be sure that you latch is correct
I had this problem with my first baby, and had to contact a lactation consultant. Ensure that your baby’s mouth is wide open and the nipple is directed towards the back of your baby’s mouth.
If you are still not sure, you can watch some videos online or alternatively visit a lactation consultant to inspect if your latch is adequate.
Supplements that can help increase milk production
One of the well known herbal supplements available today is Fenugreek. Others include brewer’s yeast, green powders, calcium and bentonite clay. Some natural milk boosters are blessed thistle and alfalfa, which also work well when used with fenugreek. Other natural foods that can increase milk production are ginger, garlic, carrot, nuts, fennel, sesame seeds, green papaya, and of course water. If these do not work, ask your doctor for a prescription to help you increase milk production.
One way I make sure to keep up the supply of milk is to pump in addition to breastfeeding. I do it strategically. When the baby wakes up from the longest night sleep period, right after the baby has eaten I pump the rest of the milk out. This is the moment of the fullest breast of the day. If all the milk is not consumed, it will not just stay there as extra for the next feed, but will go away. So pumping out the milk tells the body to keep producing more for the next time around.
I think this tactic has really stabilized my milk supply. I use a double breast pump to pump from both breasts simultaneously.
Alternatively you can pump out from just one breast that you used for feeding. This way you will have the second breast absolutely full for the next feeding. In this scenario I recommend pumping after the next feeding from that second breast as well.
One important note to this method is to make sure that you get a good chunk of sleep here as well – that’s when the body’s milk production is at its best.
One usage for this extra milk is to give it to the local human milk bank as donation.
Medical conditions that can affect milk production
Aside from the natural factors mentioned above which you can correct yourself, it is good that I mention other factors that may be beyond your control, and will need medical intervention. These include:
- Hormonal disorders such as high or low thyroid level.
- Recent breast surgery or previous breast injury.
- High amount of blood loss during labor
- If there is still a piece of placenta left in your womb.
- Certain medications such as combined contraceptive pill, or a cold tablets or using a nose decongestant containing pseudoephedrine.