Are you staying up all night thinking that you have some underlying health issue that is causing low milk supply despite all your efforts?
Do you constantly sit down to research the pros and cons of formula and if you should supplement your baby’s diet with it?
Are there some natural ways that will stimulate breast milk production?
If you are worried about all these points and more, let me tell you one thing that will help you breathe easy. You are not alone mama. These worries are very common among new mothers who have a teeny tiny baby to take care of and have little or no guidance when it comes to breastfeeding and the issues related to it.
I researched a lot on these topics and tried to find out effective ways of boosting the breast milk supply. These methods that I came across are not magical fixtures and won’t show results overnight, but they are good solutions that work steadily to deliver you the much-needed supply and a good night’s sleep.
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Wanting to increase breast milk as quickly postpartum for the many benefits of breast milk is understandable. Breastfeeding has benefits for you and your baby. Breastmilk has multiple health benefits along with emotional and financial benefits as well.
In babies, the health benefits of breast milk are reason enough for attempting this form of feeding your infant. Breastfeeding has been known to have the following health benefits for your baby:
Emotionally, breastfeeding allows for bonding between mother and infant, unlike any other relationship. This bond will aid in developmental moments in your baby’s life. For mommy, breastfeeding has been known to help with postpartum depression that can occur, especially if you are frustrated at your limited ability to increase milk supply.
The further benefits for mom include lowering your risk of ovarian and breast cancer, burning more calories helping you lose the extra baby weight, triggering uterus to shrink back to its normal size, lowering your chance of osteoporosis, releasing oxytocin and healing body quicker than formula, delaying the return of menstrual cycle, supplying some birth-control protection, and saves money. It’s understandable why so many mothers search for ways to increase breast milk supply.
Finally, the cost of breastfeeding is free which is greatly reduced when compared to the unfathomable price baby formula costs, and the total amount wasted over the baby’s formula life. Besides diapers, baby formula is the second most expensive cost for newborn parents.
“When given mother nature’s free buffet to choose from, and a healthier choice too, its worth the time trying.”
Of course, the benefits of breastfeeding go far beyond this. But this is enough to make us aware of the importance and necessity of breastfeeding.
Do I Have a Low Milk Supply?
Before you take all the advice to heart and start pumping 24*7 while stuffing yourself with the milk increasing foods, stop and think if your breast milk supply is actually low. Chances are that you are producing sufficient milk and you just don’t have a clear understating of the nursing expectation.
You might also be suffering from a medical condition which is resulting in low milk supply and in this case you will need the help of a lactation specialist or your physician.
Always remember, it is very crucial to establish that you are actually struggling to supply enough milk before jumping on the remedies.
Are you Confused Between Low Milk Supply and Extraordinary Feeding Expectations?
Most new mothers think that they should be producing more milk than what they are managing to do. This sets extraordinary expectations and leads to a lot of worries. Following are some signs that may look like you are not producing enough milk but that is not true, there can be other reasons leading to these signs.
How much milk is enough milk?
There is not fixed method for defining the amount of milk that a mom needs to produce. This is because all babies and their hunger are different. There is no fixed amount that will satisfy a baby. Though there are a few general metrics that can help you judge if you are producing enough milk for your baby or not.
Some new moms get very low or no milk when they pumping. So they began to suspect that their milk was not enough. This is wrong. A healthy baby suck milk out of your breast is much more efficiently than any breast pump. The volume of milk that you can pump cannot be accurately measured your milk supply.
Also, pumping need some special skills (different from nursing) and the type of pump will be very pivotal. Even some women who have abundant milk supplies are unable to get any milk when they pump. In addition, incorrect pumping will result in milk decrease over time.
Causes For Low Milk Supply
The first few days and weeks of trying to breastfeed can be difficult for some, especially those moms who feel that there hasn’t been a sufficient increase in milk supply to feed and nourish her baby. Frustrated, moms are looking for ways to increase breast milk rapidly, which isn’t as easy as you may wish. Lactation Consultants agree on 9 primary reasons for slow milk production.
1. Mom’s Health Issues
If you think a medical condition is causing low milk supply, you should dig deep into your medical history and try to resolve the problem. Following are some of the common problems that affect breast milk production.
- Birth control pills
- Breast surgery
- Glandular tissue
- Hormonal imbalance
- Thyroid problem
- Heavy blood loss during delivery
2. May Not Be Your Fault
Sometimes when you are killing yourself for producing less milk, you might as well be blaming the wrong person. It is really possible that some common issues with the baby might be confusing you into thinking that you are producing less milk. Following are some of the common reasons because of which the babies fail to feed properly.
- Improper latching
- Breastfeeding jaundice
A pediatrician or a lactation consultant should be able to help you diagnose and resolve these issues.
3. Bad positioning during feeding
The key to breastfeeding is getting the baby to properly latch onto your breast, and the proper breastfeeding position is critical for the success of this process and increases milk supply. Several options are available for mom and baby to experiment with and there is no one perfect position for everyone. Every mom has to find what is comfortable to them; however, four common and different positions for mom to try to include the cross-cradle hold, the football hold, the cradle hold, and side-lying.
The most preferred mom position, the cross-cradle hold has the mother holding her infant across her body for easy visibility of the baby’s latching and nursing technique. Yours and your baby’s tummy will be touching as your hand and arm support baby’s head and body across you to your opposite of arm’s nipple.
This position is generally the first position first-time moms learn and use. Also described as a clutch hold, your baby is supported by your arm and probably a nursing pillow under the same arm. You are actually holding the baby as if going for a forward pass. If you are using your right arm, your baby will attach to the right nipple and the same is true of the left side.
This position is similar to the cross-cradle position except for the position of your arms have been switched. You are now supporting your baby with the same arm as you are breastfeeding, and your opposite hand is guiding baby and nipple. These two positions are interchangeable depending on which hand you are dominated, right or left, and personal comfort.
In this position, mommy and baby are both lying on their sides facing each other. The breast which is resting on top of the bed closest to baby’s face is the nursing breast. Your opposite arm can provide support for your baby or you can employ the use of a baby pillow or rolled up towel.
All of these positions include the following assurances of proper breastfeeding positions to get the optimum results of increasing milk supply.
- Get in a comfortable place where both feet, neck, and back are supported.
- Use a donut, breastfeeding pillow for the best comfort and support without strain on you.
- Bring baby to you; mommies shouldn’t lean in towards baby.
- Keeping the baby’s ear, shoulder and hip aligned while feeding will make swallowing and thus suckling easier.
- The baby’s mouth should be fully opened. You may have to stimulate the baby’s upper lip to get him or her to open his mouth wide enough to engulf nipple and the bottom portion of the areola.
- The baby’s head should be slightly tilted back, and nose parallel to mom’s nipple.
- The perfect baby face will have baby’s top and bottom lip flattened upon mom’s breast.
As long as you follow the breastfeeding guides for proper positioning and you get the baby to develop a good latch, an increase milk supply will follow. It often times takes days and weeks to perfect your desired technique with the desired results, but all Latch experts agree that practice makes perfect, and in time your milk supply will increase.
4. Using Pacifiers
Pacifiers can cause improper latch. They will significantly reduce the time your baby spends at the breast, which may cause your milk supply to drop over time.
A bottle needs different types(passive sucking milk) of sucking than breastfeeding, and it is easier for your baby to get milk from a nursing bottle. As a result, baby confuses nipples and pacifiers. Feeding with the bottle may either cause your baby to have problems sucking properly at the breast, baby prefers bottles that are constantly flowing.
That’s fine if your milk supply is enough and your baby weight is gaining well. If you’re trying to increase your milk supply, let baby finish the first side, then offer the other side.
Stopping the feeding before your baby ends the feeding herself can affect the supply-demand cycle. Also, the fat content is higher in the later breast milk, which will help your baby gain weight well and lasts longer between feedings.
In the first few weeks, some babies are very sleepy and only ask to nurse infrequently or for short periods. If your baby sleeps for a long time, your breasts will swell and cause breast blockage, even causing mastitis. So nurse your baby every 2 hours during the day and every 4 hours at night to feed once.
Scheduled feedings mean that a new mom chooses a timed and the feeding time interval based on baby’s weight or months age, and only feeds the baby at those time intervals, regardless of baby’s cues or readiness. When the baby is feeding, we don’t know how much the baby has sucked – so it is difficult for us to know how long the baby can go before the next feeding. In the early days, if your baby doesn’t put to the breast when hungry. It can lead to a reduced supply, sometimes several months later rather than immediately.
How to Increase Breast Milk Supply Naturally?
Mumma, you need to relax a bit. Yes, breastfeeding is a big job but it won’t help to worry constantly. Stress of any type is known to have an impact on breast milk production. Find ways to relax and believe in yourself. Know that you can do this; you can feed and nourish your baby.
2. Consume plenty of fluids
Your body needs extra fluids to produce milk. Therefore, make sure to consume plenty of fluids and help your body make sufficient amount of milk.
3. Be careful with birth control pills
Birth control pills mess with the hormones and an imbalance in hormones effects milk supply. So, it is important to be very careful with your birth control pills. Consult your gynecologist about the right pill or resort to other methods of birth control.
4. Do not consume random medications
Some medications can have a serious impact on the supply and can also get passed on to the baby through milk. Therefore, do not pop medications without consulting your doctor first. Some common medicines like Codeine and Aspirin are considered bad for breastfeeding mothers.
5. Eat enough and eat healthy
Breastfeeding moms need more calories and feel very hungry. Therefore, make it a point to eat a lot and consume healthy food. Do not worry about your figure; you can always lose the weight later.
6. Avoid giving formula
Supplementing a baby’s feed with a bottle interferes with the feeding cycle and also makes the babies lazy. Once the babies know the comfort of a bottle they do not want to work hard and suck milk from the breasts. If your pediatrician asks you to supplement with formula, you should definitely consider giving formula.
7. Work on your baby’s latch
It is very common for babies to have issues with their latch. If you are feeling pain or discomfort while feeding, chances are that your baby is not latching properly and hence, failing to get enough milk. Work on your baby’s latch, if you need consult with a lactation consultant and sort out the problem.
8. Get Comfortable
Feeding takes a lot of time, so it is important to find a comfortable position and make sure that it is good for the baby as well. Invest a good nursing pillow, it will help you tremendously.
9. Nurse equally from both sides
Do not create a favorite breast and do not let the baby do it either. Nurse equally from both sides and ensure that both breasts are emptied completely.
10. Do not feed by a schedule
Do not feed the baby according to a fixed schedule, rather feed whenever the baby looks hungry. Nurse more frequently as the baby grows and feels hungry quicker than before.
11. Feed usually at night
It is common for moms to want to have a good night sleep and resort to bottle rather than breastfeeding to achieve that. This may sound like a good idea but by sleeping longer you are actually lowering the quantity of your supply.
12. Do not overuse pacifiers
Let’s get this straight, babies love pacifiers and using them isn’t wrong either but it is a fact that pacifiers can interfere with breastfeeding latch. It will be good if you can wait for your baby to become a pro with latching before you introduce the pacifier.
13. Increase milk supply by pumping
Pumping milk in between feeds signals the body to produce more than it already is producing. This eventually increases the milk supply.
14. Keep the baby awake while nursing
It is very common for babies to sleep on the breast and because the babies the babies fail to fill up their tummy. Try to keep your baby awake as much as possible while feeding. A stimulated baby will feed till content and then finally sleep with a full stomach.
15. Try Skin to Skin
Skin to skin feeding has been proven to stimulate milk production. If you haven’t tried it before, you should. Strip your baby down to the diaper and you also remove your shirt. Skin to skin feeding sessions also regulate the baby’s heart rate and breathing rate.
16. Do not consume supplements
There is no guarantee that a supplement will increase your milk production. A supplement should always be used after consultation with a doctor and if possible, completely avoid them and focus on other natural methods mentioned here. Also, wrong supplements can cause harm to the baby.
17. Do not hesitate to ask for help
Breastfeeding can become a nightmare if not done properly. If you think you are struggling beyond normal, ask for help. Talk to a lactation consultant. Sometimes, all it needs to improve the breastfeeding experience is an assurance that you are doing it right and there is no need to worry.
18. Take care of your breasts
It is common for breasts to gets cuts and bleed during the initial days after your baby is born. Do not ignore the pain and take care of the wounds otherwise you will end up getting an infection. Also, bleeding nipples can cause a lot of pain which can in turn hamper your will to feed. So, take care of your breasts and help them heal quicker.
Some Quick Tips
Here are some quick tips for you if you are a new mother worrying about your milk supply and feeding methods.
Nursing is a natural process that has been in practice for centuries now. Female bodies are inherently meant to produce milk for their babies but sometimes it may not go as planned. If you are struggling with your milk supply, please know that you are not alone and there is help available. Reach out to your gynecologist or better yet, look out for a lactation consultant. Increasing breast milk supply is easier than you believe.