Most breastfeeding moms are concerned about whether they’re producing enough breast milk for their little ones or not. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention data, 75 percent of moms breastfeed their babies but after the first few months, many of them stop completely or partially.
One of the biggest reasons why they stop is the concerns about inadequate milk supply. If you feel the same and want to increase your breast milk supply, then luckily there are safe ways to do it.
In this article, we’ll discuss different ways to increase breast milk for your baby by using evidence-based techniques.
Potential Reasons for Low Milk Supply
Before getting into the details about increasing milk production, let’s first discuss the potential causes that can lead to a low milk supply.
Some medical conditions such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), diabetes, and high blood pressure during pregnancy can also interfere with milk production.
Depression, stress, and anxiety can lead you to produce less milk by interfering with your letdown reflex. That’s why it’s important to create a relaxing environment to make the breastfeeding experience stress-free and enjoyable. It can help increase your breast milk production greatly.
Allergy and sinus medications containing pseudoephedrine can lower your breast milk production.
Alcohol and Smoking
Drinking and smoking not only can decrease your milk production but can also affect your baby’s health negatively.
History of a Breast Surgery
Several breast surgeries such as mastectomy, cyst removal, and breast reduction decrease glandular tissues. They can also damage the essential nerves linked to your breast milk production.
Best Ways to Increase Breast Milk Production
If you’re worried about your milk supply, then consider contacting a board certified lactation consultant or a professional breastfeeding counselor. That’s because it may be medically necessary to supplement your baby if s/he is losing or not gaining weight.
You can also consult with your doctor about the following ways to boost your breast milk production to make sure if they’re safe for you or not. Depending upon your current rate of milk production they can take several days to a few weeks to begin working.
Breastfeed Your Baby More Often
Your breast milk production is based on supply and demand. It means the more your baby nurses, the more milk your body will produce. According to a scientific study, you should breastfeed your baby about 8 to 12 times a day.
You can also start power pumping between each feeding to help increase milk production. You can breast pump whenever:
- Your baby misses a feeding session
- Your little one gets a breast milk bottle or formula
- You still have milk after feeding the baby
According to a study, pumping sessions can increase the amount of milk that you need to express. That’s because pumping empties your breast fully and tells your body to make more milk. You can use an expressing bra to double pump by keeping your hands free.
Offer Both Sides for Breastfeeding
If your baby feeds from both sides in each session then don’t change the side until s/he stops feeding or slows down. According to an NCBI study, pumping milk from both sides can increase milk production and its quality.
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Consuming lactation cookies can also increase your breast milk production. The ingredients in these cookies contain galactagogues and according to a study, it improves lactation. Some of such ingredients include
- Brewer’s yeast
- Wheat germ
- Flaxseed meal
- Whole oats
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One of the most important reasons why many moms experience low milk supply is that they don’t take care of their diet. It’s essential to follow healthy eating and drinking habits. There are herbs and foods that can improve your breast milk production and these foods include:
- Blessed thistle
Get more Rest
A great nap and a good night’s sleep can literally work wonders when it comes to your milk supply. You need to make sure that you’re resting as much as possible to enable your body to work optimally.
Consult with a Lactation Consultant
In order to get an expert opinion, you should consult with a professional lactation consultant. It’ll allow you to understand whether your baby’s getting enough milk or not. Additionally, a professional consultant will also advise you what ways to increase milk supply are safe for you.
Signs Your Baby’s Getting Enough Milk
If the following are true then your milk supply is sufficient for your little one.
- Your baby needs 8 to 12 feedings each day.
- Your baby is passing soft and yellow stools.
- Your baby wakes up by him/herself and feeds vigorously.
- Your baby is back to his/her birth weight within two weeks.
- Your baby sleeps well after getting breastfed.
- Your baby is gaining weight (5.5 to 8.5 ounces per week)
Signs Your Baby isn’t Getting Enough Milk
Low milk supply isn’t a common phenomenon. According to Mayo Clinic, the majority of moms produce about one-third more milk than the amount their babies need. But during the first few weeks, your baby may not get enough milk.
- Poor weight gain by your baby and failure to reach his/her birth weight within the first two weeks.
- When babies gain weight, they usually have 6 or more wet diapers each day after the first week of their birth. If you notice Insufficient dirty or wet nappies then you should be worried.
- When you notice that your baby is having dark-colored urine.
When to Seek Professional Help
If you feel your baby isn’t thriving and not getting enough milk as well, then you should immediately visit your lactation specialist or doctor without wasting any more time. You can make simple changes in your life as mentioned above if insufficient milk supply for breastfeeding is the problem.
It’s important to note that you should not make sudden dietary changes without discussing them with your doctor, especially if you are on some kind of medication.