How to Produce More Breast Milk
Lactation Answers for New Mothers
One of your most important jobs as a new mom is to feed your baby. Breastfeeding has numerous health benefits, and the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding as the main source of nutrition for at least the first 6 months of your baby’s life. And while the literature makes it seem like the easiest and most natural activity in the world, it may take a while for you and your baby to develop a rhythm. Before you concern yourself with producing more milk for your baby, there’s something you should know.
You Probably Already Are Producing Enough
What to Do When Your Milk Comes in
Milk production follows the most fundamental principle of supply and demand. Your son or daughter will let you know how much milk you should produce and your body will respond appropriately. New mothers, in particular, are often frustrated because they just don’t know how much milk their baby is consuming. Even when they ask the pediatrician, "How much milk is he getting?", the doctor who just weighed and measured the infant is likely to respond with a smile: Enough.
How Can You Be Sure Your Body Is Producing Enough Milk?
Again, your baby will let you know. If he latches on properly, sucks until he is full, feeds frequently and produces plenty of wet diapers and bowel movements, he’s probably doing great. But from birth to 6 months, you’ll likely see an ebb and flow in how well he feeds. A growth spurt may make him ravenous. A full belly may have him dozing off before you offer him the second breast. But if your baby isn’t feeding well, seems lethargic and is constantly fussy, it’s time to consult the pediatrician. If you do feel like you’re not producing quite enough to satisfy the little guy, there may be some natural ways to produce more breast milk.
Offer both breasts: Since your breasts will only “refill” when needed, the goal is to get as near empty as you can at each feeding. That way the hormone prolactin can take the fats, proteins and sugars from your bloodstream and produce more breast milk. Allow your baby to feed from the first breast while he is actively sucking and swallowing. Transfer him to the second breast to finish feeding. Reverse the order next time around. It might be a good idea to attach a safety pin to your bra strap as a placeholder.
Hydrate: Make sure you always breastfeed with a big glass of water by your side. While water will not increase milk production, it will help with your overall health, and it’s never been more important for you to be aware of what you eat and drink. After all, you’re still eating for two.
Maintain a healthy diet: Not only are plenty of rest, some exercise and a good diet good for you and your baby, but certain foods are also associated with the quality and volume of milk:
- Leafy green vegetables contain important nutrients like vitamins and iron, which can help increase milk production.
- Oats are high in iron and folate, which are both important for the lactating mother. Low iron, in particular, can decrease lactation.
- Nuts like almonds, cashews and macadamias all contain monounsaturated fatty acids, which are important for the good health of your mammary glands.
- Ginger, which you can steep in tea, can help ease stress and increase blood circulation.
- Fenugreek is a dietary supplement that has been known to stimulate milk production. Check with your physician before adding any supplements to your diet.
Breastfeeding your baby is an intimate and loving experience. If you want to achieve optimal results, enjoy it in a quiet and peaceful setting, and breathe. You’re doing great!
What to Do When Your Milk Comes in
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How Much Milk Should I Be Producing?
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How to Abruptly Stop Breastfeeding
Can You Increase the Fat In Breast Milk?
- WebMD: Breast-Feeding and Your Milk Supply
- Lipids: Saturated Fats: A Perspective From Lactation and Milk Composition
- La Leche League International: How Can I Increase My Milk Supply?
- Parenting: How to Increase Milk Supply
- ScienceDaily: What Causes Women to Stop Breastfeeding Early?
- British Journal of Midwifery: What Influences Women to Bottle-feed From Birth and to Discontinue Breastfeeding Early?
- National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health: Fenugreek