10 Tips for Naturally Increasing Breast Milk Supply
August 22, 2013 General
Many new mothers fear that their babies are not getting enough milk from them. However, as long as your baby is growing and gaining weight and there are a sufficient amount of wet diapers throughout the day, this is not usually a concern. If you are worried you aren’t producing enough or would like to be able to store breast milk, though, there are ways to increase the amount of milk you produce. Here are ten tips to amplify your milk supply naturally.
- Nurse Frequently – The best thing you can do is nurse your baby as often and as much as he likes. The more your baby feeds, the more milk your body will produce in order to keep up with him. Most lactation experts agree that it is better to nurse on an as needed basis rather than following a rigorous feeding schedule.
- Drink Plenty of Fluids – Ensure you are taking in your eight glasses of water per day. While you probably do not need to take in an excess of fluids, you definitely need to drink to your thirst and maintain the adequate amount of water in your body. If you are dehydrated, your body will not produce the right amount of milk for your baby.
- Eat Enough (Healthy) Calories – Eat at least 1800 calories per day and make sure you are meeting all your own nutritional requirements. Your body needs energy to produce milk, not to mention to do all the other tasks required of a new mom.
- Feed from Both Breasts – Let your baby empty your breast entirely, then switch her over to the other breast. Having her feed from both sides will increase your supply. The next time you nurse, start with the side you used last.
- Massage Your Breast as You Nurse – If you see your baby is sucking but not actually drinking milk, use breast compressions. Squeeze and massage your breast gently by grasping it at the top with your thumb and bottom with the other fingers. This will quickly dispense more milk and release the hind milk.
- Check Your Technique – The most common cause of low milk supply is that your baby is not properly latching on. Getting the latch down can be the most difficult thing to do when starting out with breastfeeding, but once you and your baby have it mastered, it is usually smooth sailing from there on out. For a good latch, the areola must be far enough in your baby’s mouth for him to release the milk. To get it in deep enough, touch the breast to your baby’s lips and then pull it back until your baby’s mouth is wide open. Pull your baby in close and he should now latch on deeply. Some ways to tell if your baby is latched on correctly are that you can see the pink of your baby’s lips, your baby’s ears are wiggling, you hear him swallowing and his cheeks are not being sucked in too deeply as he drinks.
- Use a Pump – Pumping between feedings is a definite way to increase your milk supply. The most effective way to do this is to keep pumping until about five minutes after the breast has been emptied. This way you are sending a signal to your body that you need more next time. That being said, any extra pumping is still going to help to increase your supply.
- Don’t Supplement – In the early weeks bottles can cause nipple confusion, which can stop your baby from properly latching on when you breastfeed him again. Also, because the milk comes out so much faster from a bottle and a bottle is easier to suck from, your baby will be less hungry and less likely to work as hard for his milk when you return him to the breast.
- Don’t Stress – Try not to worry about your milk supply. The more relaxed and comfortable both Mom and baby are, the easier nursing will be. Ultimately, breastfeeding should provide a bonding experience for you and your little one. If you are stressed rather than relaxed, it could inhibit the let-down of your milk and your baby may find it hard to get comfortable and feed.
- Take a Nursing Vacation – New moms struggling to produce enough milk are sometimes advised to take a “nursing vacation” to increase milk supply and get into the groove of nursing. This entails staying in bed all day with your baby (which many new moms need anyway) and just nursing on demand for two to three days. Not only will you and your baby bond and get into a rhythm, but you will also get the rest you need so that your body can operate most efficiently.