We have a guest post from Jenny Silverstone on increasing low milk supply when breastfeeding. Jenny is a mother of two, a writer, and a breastfeeding advocate. Having experienced the joys and endless struggles of breastfeeding first hand, Jenny now helps other mums by sharing tips, tricks, and actionable breastfeeding advice on her blog – MomLovesBest.com.
Ten Ways to Increase Your Milk Supply
Are you struggling to make enough milk to feed your baby? Few things are more frussetrating for a new mom to cope with than a low milk supply. Your breasts were created specifically for this purpose, so why aren’t they cooperating? The good news is there are ways to convince your body to increase its milk production. Here’s what you can do.
- Take care of yourself. If you’re not treating your body well, it’s not going to treat you well. It needs rest, proper nourishment, and plenty of liquids in order to produce adequate milk for your baby.
- Eat lactogenic foods. Certain foods have been found to stimulate milk production. Examples of these foods are oatmeal, flax, brewer’s yeast, almonds, fennel, and dark leafy greens such as kale. Eat them plain or find ways to incorporate them into your meals. Fenugreek seeds are also a proven milk-booster, and are also available in supplement form.
- Avoid supplementing with formula. Though it may be tempting to feed your baby just a little bit of formula to satisfy their hunger, resist this urge. Bottles are easier to suckle than the breast, and your baby can quickly develop a preference for this food source and begin to reject your breast altogether.
- Nurse more frequently. Breastfeed every two hours around the clock. Your body produces more milk when the breasts have been emptied; if they are emptied frequently your body will sense that the baby’s demand is higher than the current supply and increase production.
- Use your hands to empty the breast. If your breasts are not fully emptied by your baby or your breast pump, massage them yourself. You may also put warm compresses on the breast to help them relax and encourage milk let-down. If you’re not comfortable with your breasts expelling and dripping milk, massage them while wearing your nursing bra and insert breast pads to absorb the milk. Mama Designs ultra-thin bamboo breast pads are even washable, so you don’t have to feel like you’re creating waste.
- Check that your baby’s latch is correct. If your baby does not have a correct latch, they cannot suckle properly and drain the milk from the breast. The baby’s mouth should be full of the areola. A lactation nurse or your pediatrician can verify whether your baby’s latch is indeed poor if you have concerns.
- Pump after every breastfeed. After your baby has eaten, spend 20 minutes pumping to drain any remaining milk and send a signal to the body that there is a demand for more. Two to three times a day, do a “power pump” session; that is, do two pumping sessions with only a ten-minute break between them. This also tricks the body into believing that there is a significant demand for more milk so it will increase production.
- Practice skin-to-skin. Your body responds to the feel of your baby close to you. It also helps your baby relax. When you nurse, remove your baby’s clothes and take your shirt off so you are skin to skin.
- Avoid using dummies. A breast, a bottle nipple, and a dummy all feel different in your new baby’s mouth. Exposing them to multiple nipples can cause “nipple confusion” and make it more difficult to learn a proper latch at the breast.
- Focus on your baby and have your baby focus on you. There is an amazing relationship between a mother and her baby. The sight, sounds, smell, and even thoughts of your baby can stimulate milk production and let-down. Avoid distractions while nursing and focus exclusively on your baby. Mamascarf breastfeeding scarf helps you maintain eye contact with your baby throughout the nursing session and eliminates distractions so you can both focus on the most important task at hand.
It won’t happen overnight, but by following these tips you may be able to increase your milk supply and successfully breastfeed your baby exclusively. Take care of yourself, relax, focus on your baby, and do everything in your power to drain your breasts often. It feels all-consuming now, but it won’t last forever – and when your milk supply increases you’ll know that it was completely worth it .