If you're struggling with lactation, don't worry, mama—these tips to increase your breast milk supply should help.
Many moms wonder about natural ways to increase milk supply at some point in their breastfeeding or breast pumping journey. We wonder, 'Am I making enough milk?' or 'What can I do to increase my milk supply while breastfeeding?'
Luckily for us mamas, there are quite a few ways to help maintain and boost milk production. Here are nine natural ways to increase your milk supply.
1. Stay hydrated.
The exact number of fluid intake may vary per individual, but you should aim to have at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day. It might seem counter-intuitive, but you actually don't need to drink extra water in order to boost your milk supply. According to the National Academy of Medicine, just making sure you're adequately hydrated every day should be fine.
2. Eat a well-balanced diet.
Breastfeeding moms need to eat about an extra 500 calories per day. Choose nutritious food that give you energy, such as protein-rich foods like oatmeal, adding flaxseed meal or brewer's yeast to smoothies or yogurt, eggs, and veggies. Look for foods with B vitamins and vitamin C (like salmon, leafy greens and strawberries), which can help increase your milk supply.
3. Nurse often and follow your baby's lead.
Nursing babies do not follow a schedule, they set it. So, try to go with the (milk) flow and follow your boss baby's cues, especially when your baby is still a newborn. Lactation consultants often recommend feeding on demand, which means that every time your baby is hungry, you feed them. This certainly is not always possible, especially for moms who work outside the home. You do also have to take your mental health into consideration as well. But if you're looking for a boost, feeding on demand may be the way to go.
4. Let baby feed fully on each side.
Milk production is a demand-supply system so the more often baby feeds, the more milk production occurs. When your breast is fully empty, it sends a message to your brain to produce more milk. Added bonus, when you baby completely empties a breast, they are sure to get all the foremilk and fatty hindmilk behind it, which is great for their development.
Anecdotally, some women find that lactation cookies or lactation brownies help—and even if they don't, they are delicious, so yay! You can bake some at home and modify the ingredients to your liking (ie. add more chocolate chip!) or buy pre-made cookies. I've tried a few recipes for lactation cookies and my favorite is the recipe from How Sweet Eats.
If you'd like to get ready-made cookies, you can find them at any store that carries baby products or right to your door.
6. Brew lactation teas.
Do you like to drink? Tea, that is! If so, you may want to try out lactation teas. The jury is still out about whether or not lactation teas and herbs actually do increase supply levels—research has had varying results. But if you enjoy them and it works for you, go for it.
7. Take lactation supplements.
What if you want to increase your breast milk supply but don't want cookies or teas?
Galactogogues like Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle and Brewer's Yeast are supplements that can help. These herbs can be taken separately or in a combo formulation. Fenugreek can have mixed results when taken by itself. For some women, it really helps, but for others it may not make a difference or even reduce supply.
Personally, I found the most effective result with the combination of fenugreek and blessed thistle as in Upspring's Milkflow. That along with brewer's yeast capsules really worked for me.
I'd recommend you try out various options to see what lactation supplements work for you and your body.
And of course, before starting any supplements or if you have any questions, it's always a good idea to discuss with your doctor.
8. Use a breast pump.
It can be very useful to use a breast pump to empty your breast if your baby has only fed on one side, to start a milk stash or to maintain milk supply for home or work.
Most importantly, I want to stress that the main point is to feed our babies. It is crucial to be sensitive to the fact that every woman is unique, as is her situation. Some women have insufficient glandular tissue, chronic issues like PCOS, milk production issues, or other factors making breastfeeding very difficult or not possible.
Mamas, whatever your way of feeding, be proud of the fact that you are doing the best you can and that you are feeding your child. That is what is important. As a pediatrician and fellow mom, I support you.
Originally posted on The Mindful Mom.
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