Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing, but sometimes mothers can struggle with low milk supply. This can cause a lot of unwanted stress and frustration to the mother. Breastfeeding does not need to cause the mother a hardship if her milk supply is low. There are many natural ways for how to increase milk supply, and before a mother gives up, she should try these various things to see what works for her.
Staying hydrated is a must when breastfeeding because 90% of breast milk is made up of water. It is recommended that a breastfeeding mother should drink at least 8 cups of water a day. More is always better especially for a nursing mother. A great and easy reminder to drink water often is by always having a water bottle around and to keep refilling it. The more a mother is hydrated, the better her milk supply will be.
2Get Enough Rest and Stay Relaxed
Taking care of oneself and getting rest is crucial. It is so important that a mother gets enough sleep as this can affect her milk supply. Mothers should try sleeping when the baby takes a nap because finding an arrangement that allows the maximum amount of sleep is essential. Not getting an adequate amount of rest can cause stress and anxiety which in turn can cause a decrease in milk supply.
3Allow Baby to Feed Fully
Allowing the baby to feed fully on both sides at each feeding is important. The more the baby feeds, the more milk gets produced. It allows both breasts to be stimulated every 2-3 hours, in turn increasing milk supply. Also, when the baby starts to doze off, switch them to the other breast. This helps make sure that baby feeds from both breasts which helps the milk supply stay consistent.
4Follow Baby’s Lead
Nursing often and following the baby’s lead is great for increasing milk supply. Go with the baby’s cues, especially when they are still a newborn. Lactation Consultants often recommend to feed the baby on demand. For best results, it’s ideal to nurse between 8-12 times a day. Go with the nursing schedule the baby sets especially in their newborn stages.
5Nurse Skin to Skin
Research has shown that nursing skin to skin helps release more of the hormone oxytocin that produces breast milk as well as milk ejector hormones. This hormone is also called “the love hormone” and snuggling up skin to skin with baby increases breast milk volume. Nursing skin to skin also helps awaken sleepy babies and less enthusiastic feeders to nurse more, in turn, stimulating the breasts to produce more milk.This means nursing the baby while they are just in a diaper and mother with most of her top off.
Breast Compression is a great way to increase milk supply and better flow. Do not use this technique when the baby is actively breastfeeding. But when the flow begins to decrease and baby isn’t sucking out milk, doing breast compression’s can help get more milk out. When more milk is expelled, the baby sucks longer which tells the mothers body to produce more milk.
7Use a Breast Pump
If for some reason the baby feeds only on one side and falls asleep before feeding on the next, try to use a breast pump to pump out the milk. This allows the breast to produce more milk as it is emptying. Breast milk that was not fed to the baby and not pumped out does not allow the breast to produce as much milk as it is already full. That is why it is best to pump out the extra and let the breast produce more for the next feeding. Don’t worry, breast milk that was pumped can be stashed in the freezer for a later time!
How the baby latches to the breast is important. Make sure the latch is correct. If the baby does not latch properly, this causes the breast to not be drained efficiently, in turn causing issues with milk supply. This is because the breast isn’t stimulated enough. If for any reason one feels the baby’s latch isn’t correct, it is best to visit a lactation consultant to help out.
There are many teas on the market targeting women who breastfeed in order to help increase their milk supply naturally. Most of these lactation teas can be found at any grocery store and are usually called Lactation Teas or Mothers Milk Tea. Another great tea for a natural way to increase milk supply is Raspberry Leaf Tea. Consider tea drinking instead of coffee in the mornings!
Just because a mother is no longer pregnant does not mean she doesn’t need her vitamins. Continuing to take prenatal vitamins after the baby is born is important for the mother. Not just because of milk supply, but also for her health. There are postnatal vitamins as well that provide more nutrients then the prenatal vitamins for the nursing mother which can help increase milk supply. Taking either is a great start.
11Eating a Well Balanced Diet
This is especially important now that a mother is breastfeeding her baby. While breastfeeding, the baby is taking most of the nutrients just like when the mother was pregnant. Mothers still need the extra 500 calories a day, but those calories should be nutritious calories. It is also best to eat protein rich foods as this helps increase energy. Adding in grains like oatmeal, barley, millet, quinoa is great. Adding in seeds like flaxseeds, almonds, and sesame helps as well. Eating healthy in general is very important, but adding in some of the above milk-making foods daily can help increase milk supply.
12Use Breastfeeding Herbs
Breastfeeding Herbs, also know as Galactagogues, can help aid in increasing milk supply. Different herbs include Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, Fennel, Goat’s Rue, Ginger, Brewer’s Yeast, Stinging Nettle, Garlic, Milk Thistle, and Alfalfa. Some herbs such as Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, and Brewer’s Yeast can be taken together as well as alone. But Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle taken together correctly work quickly, within the next 12-24 hours of starting to take them (though best in the first weeks of breastfeeding). Since there are many different types of herbs, each mother has to try and see what works best for her. As the saying goes, what may work for one may not work for another.
Calcium plays an important role in breast milk supply. Low calcium stores can hinder breast milk production. Mothers can try taking a daily calcium/magnesium supplement between 500-1,500 mg. Most of the calcium a mother consumes is going to the baby through the breast milk rather then to her own bones. That is why it is best to take the recommended amount of calcium daily in order for there to be enough for both mom and nursing baby.
Natural ways to increase milk supply are really simple and easy. It just takes some time and a little bit of patience. But incorporating some of the above ideas, even the simple ones such as drinking more water or nursing skin to skin, can help increase a mother milk supply. Nursing isn’t supposed to be a chore and using simple steps to increase supply helps a mother feel more relaxed and enjoy breastfeeding.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on 7 WAYS TO HANDLE BREASTFEEDING CHALLENGES.
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Sources: 5 Foods That Could Help Increase Your Breast Milk Supply
How to Rebuild or Increase Your Breast Milk Supply
The Magic of Skin-to-Skin on Breastfeeding