How To Increase Milk Supply – The Breastfeeding Mom’s Guide
Are you concerned if you are not producing enough milk for your baby? If yes, then you are not alone as nearly all breastfeeding moms have the same fear. The confusion arises because of their child’s uncomfortable behavior, making mothers feel uncertain about their supply.
Before jumping on how to increase milk supply, it is important to check if your supply is deficient. If your baby is well and gaining weight from breast milk alone, there is no problem with your milk supply. Breastfeeding is a supply-and-demand process. The more you feed, the more milk your body will produce.
Most moms can make plenty of milk for their little ones, but they still worry if they are producing enough. When your baby wants to nurse after an hour of eating, it is normal to worry if you are not giving enough milk.
If you truly have a low supply, know that various things can affect the production of milk. Understanding what causes your supply to go down can help you make a few changes in your regimen. Here are some of the common causes of low milk supply.
- Scheduled feedings. Mothers’ breasts produce milk continuously. The production rate depends on how full or empty they are. Your breasts produce more milk when they are almost empty, and the production slows down when they are almost full. When babies are infrequently fed on a three to four-hour schedule, breasts are full for extended periods, and this slows down milk production.
- Bottle preference. A baby sucks at the breast differently than on a dummy, pacifier or bottle. It is easier for infants to extract milk from bottles as it requires a different form of sucking than nursing. Giving a bottle may make your child prefer the faster flow or your baby may find it difficult to suck correctly at the breast.
- Less sucking time. The amount of time your child spends sucking at your breast is critical in maintaining and building your milk supply. If a baby gets more pleasing time sucking a dummy, this could mean reduced sucking time at the breast and lowers milk supply.
- Tongue tie. A baby’s tongue action affects her way of removing milk from the breast. If she cannot suck milk well, it may lower your production of milk over time.
- Supplementation. Supplementing your baby means that he eats less at breasts. The breasts respond by making less milk. If it is necessary to provide supplements, simply continue breastfeeding and pumping to increase milk production.
- Delaying feeds. Your baby will show signs when it is the right time to feed. When feeding cues are ignored, and a pacifier or dummy is given, your child may not feed well anymore. This also means your nursing sessions are reduced, and it can lower your milk supply.
- Use of nipple shields. Nipple shields are worn under the guidance of a lactation consultant. This tool can be useful in some cases, but the baby may get less milk especially if the shield is not used correctly. Because it interferes with the transfer of milk, it also affects the supply-demand cycle.
- Birth medications or jaundice. Jaundice is a common condition in babies that can make them sleepier that usual. In this case, you will need to pump your milk to maintain a good supply. Once your child has eliminated the medications from his system, he will start nursing properly, and you can stop pumping.
- Ending a feeding. It is important to wait for your baby end the session as discontinuing it on your own can interfere with the supply and demand cycle.
Other causes of low milk supply are:
- Insufficient glandular tissue. Some women may not have enough “milk-producing” ducts to meet the needs of their babies. Some steps to maximize milk production include taking a prescription medication and pumping. It is still important to continue breastfeeding even in small amounts to support your baby’s development.
- Endocrine or hormonal problems. Other health problems that can interfere with the milk supply are hypertension, diabetes, a low or high thyroid, polycystic ovary syndrome or hormonal problems. Visit a lactation consultant or breastfeeding clinic to know the best approach that will work with your health condition.
- Not getting enough rest. One of the factors that can interfere with breastfeeding is extreme tiredness or exhaustion. When you feel fatigue, you may also feel sleepy, dizzy and weak. As a new mother, it is natural that you will feel tired as you need to recover from childbirth, take care of your baby, make breast milk and feed your baby every two or three hours. It may not be easy with so many household chores waiting for you, but it is very important that you get enough rest to increase milk supply.
Low milk supply can occur due to different factors. Because breast milk is a vital nutritional source for babies and infants, it is important to determine how to increase its supply. If you are not making enough milk for your baby, here are some ways to increase your production in a matter of days.
1. Nurse More Often
The best way to increase your milk supply is by nursing more often. The production of breast milk works on demand. Your body will create more milk the more your baby feeds. Make sure that your baby is nursing properly. If milk is not removed from breasts efficiently, your body will produce less milk. One of the factors that interfere with milk supply is giving supplement during a growth spurt. It may be difficult to devote enough time to nurse, but it is important for your baby and your milk supply.
You will need to remove more milk from your breasts frequently so you can increase your supply. If your baby has problems gaining weight, nurse at least 1.5 to two hours during the day and every three hours at night.
2. Always Check The Latch
To increase milk supply effectively, always ensure correct attachment. Your baby is latched on properly when her lips are flared open, her tongue sticks out over her gums, and your nipple and areola are in her mouth. Not because you do not feel any pain does not mean her latch is on properly.
You may also slip your clean pinky into her mouth to break the seal and use your nipple to open her mouth widely. Insert your breast gently up to areola. Repeat until her mouth opens up wide and you have a good latch to allow your baby drain your breasts entirely. If you are not sure about your latch, you can ask a lactation consultant.
3. Switch Sides During Each Feeding
Ensure that your baby nurses from both breasts every nursing session. When your child falls asleep before reaching the second breast, stop her for a few minutes into feeding and gently switch her to the other side. By doing this, you can keep her awake, and she can eat more.
Consider switching three or more times during each feeding or every time your baby falls asleep. Take this as a sign to switch sides. It will stimulate both breasts to make more milk, ensuring that your child can drain each breast. You may use each side at least two times per nursing. You can use breast compression so your baby can continue feeding longer.
You can also try to double feed. Take a break by burping baby to allow more room for milk. Place her back on for another nursing session at both breasts.
4. Pump After Or Between Nursing
If you do not have enough time to nurse your baby because of work, consider establishing a pumping routine to increase your milk supply. Even if you are at home, pumping between or after nursing helps in boosting your productivity. This is also helpful as you can always have milk available if you want to take a rest. Adding pumping sessions is also important if your baby is not nursing frequently enough. Your objective in pumping is to get more milk to increase your milk production.
To make sure that you are getting an optimum amount of milk from your breasts, keep pumping for two to five minutes after the last drops of your milk. At first, the amount of milk you extract will stay the same. Hopefully, you will notice an increase in output after a few days. Make sure that you get the most out of all pumping sessions. Whether you are at home or work, pump for 15 minutes every couple of hours. Pump also for 5 to 10 minutes after every nursing session.
5. Limit The Use Of Bottles And Pacifiers
By restricting the use of bottles and pacifiers, it ensures that all your baby’s sucking needs are met at your breasts. The time your baby spends sucking a bottle or pacifier is time lost on increasing and stimulating your milk production. These satisfy the oral stimulation of infants and reduce hunger, making them less likely to feed. It will be easy for her to switch from breast and pacifier without lowering your milk supply as your baby grows.
If possible, it is best to avoid formula as the less you breastfeed, the less milk your body will produce. In some cases, giving a baby formula all the time can make your child start refusing breasts.
However, you should supplement your baby with formula if your doctor recommends for medical reasons.
6. Relax And Drink Plenty Of Water
This may be easier said than done, especially when you have a newborn. However, loads of stress can affect your ability to make milk. Take some time to relax before breastfeeding or pumping. Nap when your baby takes naps. Keep things simple and eliminate unnecessary outdoor activities to increase your milk production. You can listen to soothing music, talk to your loved ones or browse some photo albums to boost happiness.
Breastfeeding is not an easy task, and your body may suffer if you do not drink enough. Consume plenty of water to increase your energy levels, focus, and concentration. Drink at least six glasses of fluids while you are lactating.
7. Watch Your Diet
If you are dieting, this could lower your milk supply. What you eat has an impact on the quantity and quality of milk your body makes. Make sure that you consume at least 1,800 calories a day. Here are some guidelines to remember about breast milk and diet:
- Consume excellent sources of calcium. These foods and beverages will help your baby’s bone development. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, certain fish (salmon and sardines), and leafy green vegetables.
- Add more fruits and vegetables in your diet. They are packed with essential vitamins, minerals as well as fiber.
- Opt for lean meat, low-fat dairy products, soy products like tofu, and skinless chicken breast.
- When it comes to boosting milk supply, many moms have found success by eating galactagogues like millet, barley, oatmeal and quinoa, and spices like turmeric, fennel, and ginger. You can also consume almonds, flaxseeds and sesame seeds to improve your production.
[ Read: What Not To Eat When Breastfeeding ]
8. Take A Nursing Vacation
Spend a day or two in bed with your little one and do nothing else but nurse whenever your baby wants to eat. Of course, you can still go to the bathroom and kitchen and finish small motherly tasks, but this vacation is just about you and your baby.
If you are struggling with supply, do not limit how much time your baby is on each breast. You’re your baby both breasts during each feeding. During these days, take advantage of nap nursing. Sleep with your baby, so you can both relax while your little one is nursing. This relaxing method will help in increasing milk production.
9. Apply Warm Compress
In some cases, women have low milk supply due to low blood circulation in the breasts. If this is the cause, you can apply a warm compress on your breast before nursing sessions. The warmth will improve blood supply and increase milk production.
Before feeding, gently massage your breasts for five minutes. Dip a cloth in warm water and squeeze out excess water. Apply this to your breasts, gently pressing the breast against the chest. Massage for five to ten minutes, lean forward and start breastfeeding your baby.
10. Skin-To-Skin Contact
Skin-to-skin contact during nursing sessions is not only a great bonding for baby and mom, but it also helps in releasing more hormones that produce and eject milk. You can undress your baby to her diaper and drape a blanket over her back to prevent colds. Remove your bra and use a shirt that can be easily unbuttoned on the front.
You can also try to use a sling so you can keep your baby close to you all the time, encouraging her to nurse more often. Babies tend to thrive having access to their mothers 24/7 and being able to breastfeed anytime is important for your baby and milk supply.
11. Avoid An Ill-Fitting Bra
Using a bra that is too tight or compresses the breasts can cause problems with the flow of milk. Ill-fitting bra or underwire bra may have the tendency to block a particular milk duct and result in plugged duct. This leads to a painful milk buildup in that area of the breast. It is best to stick with a soft nursing bra daily to prevent poor milk flow.
Nursing bras support milk-filled breasts without constricting them. They usually come with flaps that allow mothers to open the front of each bra cup so you can feed without having to remove the bra completely.
12. Visit A Lactation Consultant
If the above measures do not help in improving your milk supply, it is best to visit a lactation consultant to help you establish a good nursing relationship.
As a breastfeeding mom, you want to make sure that your baby is getting enough milk. Breast milk contains all the essential vitamins and nutrients your little one needs in the first few months of life. Also, it is also rich in disease-fighting substances that shield your baby from various illnesses. Many factors can affect low milk supply, such as your diet, scheduled feedings, and tongue-tied. Fortunately, there are methods that you can do to increase your milk supply.
Follow a nutritious diet and keep your body hydrated by drinking enough fluids throughout the day. Breastfeed your baby frequently as this is a supply and demand process. Use a breast pump for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours to increase your milk supply. During the breastfeeding period, avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. Limit or avoid the consumption of caffeine as these have adverse effects on breast milk.