Since we can’t measure breast milk intake the way we can formula, it is easy to be insecure about your milk supply. If you feel your milk supply is low, here are five suggestions on how to increase it:
- Take care of yourself. Eat well and drink plenty of fluids. During nursing, try not to diet. You are still establishing your supply and need a minimum of 1800 calories each day while you are lactating. Fun fact: if you eat high quality foods and limit fats and sweets, you will usually lose weight more easily than a mother who is formula feeding.
- Nurse frequently. Try to get in a minimum of 8 feedings in 24 hours, and more if possible. Offer both breasts at each feeding. Try “switch nursing”. As your baby nurses he/she will suckle vigorously for a few minutes, then start slowing down. Try switching him/her to the other breast as soon as the sucking slows down (even if it has only been a few minutes). “do this for the other breast until you have offered each breast twice, then let him nurse as long as he wants to. This switch nursing will ensure that he receives more of the higher calorie hindmilk, while also ensuring that both breasts receive adequate stimulation.” Try massaging the breast gently as you nurse.
Breast compression is an easy way to help continue the flow of milk once the baby starts falling asleep at the breast, so the baby gets more of the rich, higher calorie hindmilk.
Make sure that you are using proper breastfeeding techniques. Make sure your baby is latching on properly. Check your positioning – if the areola is not far enough back in your baby’s mouth, he/she may not be able to compress the milk sinuses effectively in order to release the milk.
3. Avoid bottles and pacifiers. Avoiding bottles and pacifiers leaves your baby meeting his/her sucking needs at the breast instead. Older babies who are already established with breastfeeding are much less likely to have trouble switching back and forth between breast and bottle. Tip: “if your baby needs to be supplemented, try to use a cup, syringe, or tube feeding system, especially in the very beginning (babies under 2 weeks old).”
4. Consider renting a hospital-grade breast pump. Hospital grade pumps have stronger, more powerful motors, and are the most efficient pumps you can use. They can be bulkier to carry and can be expensive which is why most hospitals have them available for moms to use in the hospital. They can be expensive but there are places moms can rent them from.
5. The best way to increase your supply by using a pump is to double pump. Try to set your pump on maximum for 5-10 minutes after you nurse your baby, or at least 8 times in 24 hours. Most pumps work better on the higher suction settings and are more like the vigorous sucking your baby does for the first few minutes of the feeding.
There are certain food supplements that may increase your milk supply. Some herbal supplements can be used to increase milk production. First check to make sure there are no other problems such as illness in mom or baby. The most popular supplements are fenugreek, blessed thistle, red raspberry, and brewers yeast.
Eat certain foods Eating certain foods can help increase your milk supply. Find out what the top 10 foods that increase lactation are.