How to Boost Your Milk Supply When Breastfeeding
Are you a breastfeeding mama that has experienced a sudden drop in your milk supply? Are you concerned that you are producing a lower volume of milk than normal?
Worries about not producing enough breast milk is a common concern among new mamas, and for good reason! Keeping up with breastmilk production can feel overwhelming, but there are simple steps you can take to naturally increase your milk supply.
First, be sure to understand the signs that you baby is getting enough milk, which can help you determine if you are dealing with a low milk supply concern. Sometimes, milk production may fluctuate due to certain issues, such as:
- Returning to work
- Baby is nursing less (due to teething, sickness, etc)
- Change with medication or supplements
- Temporary separation from baby
- Baby has difficulty latching or sucking
- Baby is starting solids or receiving supplementation
If you are struggling with low milk supply, here are some ways to increase breast milk production:
Nurse More Frequently
Breastfeeding is a demand-and-supply cycle, which means that a woman’s body will make more milk when the demand is there. Emptying the breasts of milk more frequently signals the body to produce more to keep up with the demand.
When working to increase your milk supply, try to nurse your baby at least once every 2 hours. If your baby seems to be getting hungry, go ahead and feed your him/her, even if it seems earlier than you would normally feed them.
Allow your baby to nurse longer at the breast, as well as nurse on both sides during one feeding session. This will help your body to create more milk for your nursing baby.
In order to empty your breasts efficiently, your baby needs to be latched correctly to transfer breast milk. If your baby is not latched well on your breasts, this can make it harder to transfer milk out. Poor breast milk transfer will slow down the milk production cycle.
Remember, a correct latch at the breast should not be painful. If you are feeling pain while nursing, this could be a sign that baby is not latched on well. You may also want to try switching positions while breastfeeding, as this often helps baby correct the latch.
Once at the breast, baby’s lips should be flanged like a fish. Signs of a good milk transfer include a comfortable latch, circular movement of baby’s jaw, and audible swallowing from baby.
Eat to Support Breastfeeding
Many breastfeeding mamas are quick to rush to lactation teas and supplements if there is concern about a low milk supply. While these things can be helpful, it is important to look at your overall diet first. Are you getting enough nourishing foods and eating frequently? Are you able to stay hydrated throughout the day?
There is no question that being a new mom is hard on so many levels. Your needs often go to the back burner while you’re taking care of your baby. However, if you are lacking adequate calories and nutrition, your milk supply will suffer. Simplify meals and snacks during postpartum by having easy and nourishing foods accessible.
Especially while trying to increase your milk supply, eat a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats more consistently, and don’t go longer than a few hours without eating.
Foods That Support Lactation
While focusing on your nutrition, consider adding in foods that may naturally support milk supply, such as:
- Whole Grains, like Oats (Overnight oats are a great snack for a breastfeeding mama!)
- Red/Orange Root Vegetables, like Sweet Potatoes
- Fennel and Fenugreek Seeds
- Beans and Legumes
- Green, leafy Vegetables
- Seeds, including pumpkin, flaxseed, chia and hemp
Breastfeeding moms benefit from a nutrient-dense diet that includes a variety of healthy fats and antioxidant-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Adding in a variety of these types of foods can naturally help boost your milk supply.
Pumping with an electric breast pump can be a helpful way to increase milk production when breastfeeding. Pumping should not replace baby feeding at the breast but rather, is helpful in getting out any leftover milk after baby has nursed. For optimal breast milk production, it is helpful to make sure your breasts are fully emptied, and this is where pumping can come in handy.
Using a quality electric pump, pump both breasts for about 10-15 minutes after your baby has nursed. Massaging and compressing your breasts while pumping can also help you empty your breasts. Remember that emptying your breasts signal your body to make more milk, which is why pumping can temporarily be helpful for boosting milk supply.
Get the Help You Need, Mama!
Take a deep breath, mama. Dealing with low milk supply while breastfeeding can add stress to your already busy life. Don’t forget to care for yourself and ask for the help you need. You don’t have to do this alone.
It can be helpful to determine if an underlying issue may be the cause of decreased milk supply. Once you can figure out the cause, you can better fix the issue at hand. This is where a Lactation Consultant can be helpful. Lactation Consultants are trained to diagnose breastfeeding issues, such as low milk supply, a poor latch, and more, as well as partner with you to develop a feeding care plan for you and your baby.
No matter what, don’t forget that you are a good mama. A low milk supply does not mean that you are failing or doing a poor job at caring for your sweet baby. Hang in there, get the help and support you need, and know that you’ll get through this one step at a time.