Many expectant moms have a blissful image of bonding with their baby during breastfeeding. But the reality isn’t always as rosy.
In truth, breastfeeding is like any aspect of parenting. It can be a joy, but it can also come with many challenges. One of the most common problems for new mothers is their milk supply.
Fortunately, the body is smarter than we think and has many preprogrammed ways to resolve the problem. In this guide, we’ll offer seven tips on how to increase milk supply.
1. More Frequent Feeds
What happens when a mother wants to stop breastfeeding? The answer is that her milk supply gradually dwindles. It’s a way of telling nature you no longer need your milk supply.
And the opposite is true. If you want your body to produce more milk, you need to increase the frequency of the feeds to tell your body to up production.
If your child is partly formula-fed, but you still want to do this, use a pump between feeds to empty the breast.
Do not worry in the first few days if you find that your body still has a low milk supply during these extra feeds. Your body will still receive that message to ramp up production.
So it’s essential you do this routine consistently for a few days before expecting to see a result.
2. Longer Feeds
Did you know that milk consistency changes during a baby’s feed? At the start, the baby will access your foremilk. This is thin milk that’s easy to access. Think of it as a thirst quencher.
Once your baby has consumed that foremilk, they’ll access the thicker, higher fat reserves towards the back of the breast.
This is known as hindmilk. It’s the milk that will satisfy your baby’s hunger. And when your baby accesses the entire supply from a breast, it also triggers the breast to begin producing more. So it’s a cue.
Keep your baby on your breast longer than usual to ensure they reach that all-important hind milk reserve.
Check your latching technique; your baby will need an excellent latch to help them get that rear milk supply.
A lactation consultant is a helpful option if you experience problems with your latch. They may check for tongue and lip ties.
3. Switch Breasts
It’s common to do a single feeding session on one breast. However, it’s worth feeding on both sides to increase your milk supply. That will help you increase the frequency of your feeds.
You may find that your baby won’t take both breasts during a single feed. They may fall asleep. If that’s the case, try to pump on the unused side after feeding and settling your baby.
Get into the habit of checking both breasts after a feed. They should feel soft, a sign you’ve emptied both sides.
If they feel firm or full, use a breast pump. Though this routine takes time from a busy day, you’ll find that it will help your breasts produce more milk.
Ultimately, that will help future breastfeeding sessions feel quicker as your baby will find it easier to draw a plentiful milk supply. So, the time you invest is worth it in the long run.
If you don’t feel like your breasts are empty after a feed, it could be that you are developing a blocked duct.
The risk of this is that it will get worse and eventually lead to mastitis, an infection in the breast area that can be painful and debilitating. Check your breasts for fullness or lumps.
Massage the area around the breast. You can use your hands or a warm, damp towel, using gentle circular motions that start around the outer edges by the armpit and slowly reach the nipple area.
Doing this after each feed will help you reduce blockages and ensure a steady milk flow. If you experience ongoing problems or symptoms like red patches on your breast, consult your doctor.
Breastfeeding a baby requires lots of energy from your body. That’s hard when you have a newborn or young baby that could wake multiple times a night. It’s normal for new mothers to experience sleep deprivation.
However, that lack of rest can take its toll on the body and make it harder to produce the milk you need.
While sleep isn’t always optimum, setting aside time to rest your body to help your milk supply is essential. If you can, get some support from a relative or partner.
Even if you can’t sleep, sitting and relaxing during nap periods will help your body recuperate. It’s crucial you look after yourself when looking after a baby.
6. Drink More Water
Breastfeeding is mainly comprised of water. When you breastfeed, you have more fluids leaving the body; therefore, you need to drink more water and stay hydrated.
Keep a bottle handy at all times, and take regular sips throughout the day, including when breastfeeding or pumping. Or choose a herbal tea if you want some variety. It will help replenish lost fluids during lactation.
7. Upgrade Your Diet
A well-balanced diet will give you more energy and nutrients when breastfeeding.
You need additional calories when feeding full-time, so have an extra substantial snack in addition to your usual three meals a day. Some specific foods can help with milk supply, including:
- Sesame, poppy, and caraway seeds
Add these ingredients to a side salad to serve with your main meal. And make sure you avoid trying a weight-loss regime when breastfeeding if you are having issues with your milk supply.
Remember, our bodies are designed to carry that extra weight after childbirth to help with breastfeeding, so don’t let societal pressures rush you into trying to lose a few pounds.
How to Increase Milk Supply: 7 Steps to Try Today
It can feel frustrating when your body isn’t producing the milk your baby needs. Yet, there are many ways to resolve these situations. Try these seven tips on how to increase milk supply as a starting point.
If you need more support and guidance, speak to a breastfeeding consultant. The Kentucky Breastfeeding Center is here to help you on your journey. Reach out to us today for breastfeeding support.