When becoming a mother for the first time there are a lot of fears. Will your child be happy? Will they be healthy? And will they be a nice person? One thing that should not be a concern is will they have enough to eat, but sometimes for a breastfeeding mother that is a very valid concern.
If you are reading this article in search of ways to increase milk supply, then we are sure that you are already aware of all the advantages of breastfeeding.
When a baby is drinking formula, the mother has the opportunity to see how much their child has drank. Unfortunately for breastfeeding mothers there is no gauge on their breasts. Not only do they have to worry about how much their child is eating, but if they are producing an adequate amount to keep their child satisfied.
If you do a search for “how to increase breast milk production” you will get over a million links full of information. While there are many different breastfeeding tools and tactics for new moms to keep in their arsenal, some work better than others. Here are my top 8 ways to increase breast milk production.
1. Drink water…and a lot of it!
While drinking water might seem like a no-brainer you would be amazed by how many women forget! We get busy changing diapers and washing dishes and forget to hydrate. This can be dangerous in your day to day life, but when you are breastfeeding it is especially important to keep you hydrated. Not only does your body use the water while it is healing from the trauma of giving birth, but as you are working to build up your milk supply.
2. Tea for two.
Did you know that there are many different herbs (fennel, fenugreek, anise seed, milk thistle, and red raspberry leaf to name a few) that can help increase your breast milk production by helping your body to relax? One of the simplest ways to consume these herbs is through tea, and while there is no shortage of commercial breastfeeding teas you may prefer to make your own.
3. Eat Mama!!
One of the joys of being pregnant and breastfeeding is that you are not only allowed, but encouraged to snack between meals! By keeping a consistent intake of good foods to your body there will be no shortage of fuel to convert into your baby’s food. There are many different breastfeeding foods that have been proven to supercharge your breast milk. Here are some of the most tried and true.
- Oats, oats and more oats!
From overnight oats and lactation cookies to granola bars and smoothies there is a preparation method for everyone’s taste…even if you do not typically like oats! A serving of oats a day can increase your body’s iron which increases supply.
- Fruits and veggies are your friend.
As if we didn’t already know that fruits and veggies were amazing, they have breast milk super powers. Avocados, bananas, papayas, apricots, and dates have been found to increase a postpartum woman’s energy level in addition to her milk supply. Asparagus, spinach, sweet potato, and carrots are all highly recommended breastfeeding foods because of the high concentration in different vitamins.
- Beans are another breastfeeding food loaded with energy and protein.
Try adding lentils, green beans, and the ever popular hummus to your diet to help increase production. Those packs of hummus and chips are great when you are on the go.
4. Breastfeeding more often!
Most newborns eat every one to four hours, but if you start to notice a decline in your milk production try upping your breastfeeding frequency. For example, if your baby is leaning towards the 4 hour mark try moving your schedule up 15 minutes to half an hour and see if that helps. By feeding more often your body should naturally increase how much milk it produces.
5. Time is important!
Allow an ample amount of time for your baby to feed on each breast. Breastfeeding sessions should take between 20 and 45 minutes (especially when breastfeeding for the first time) and can be exhausting, but stick with it. By allowing your baby to completely empty each breast it will trigger your body to increase the supply. If your baby is not draining the breast than your body will think that they require less and will adjust.
6. Breastfeeding and pumping!
Bust out the old breast pump! While you may be pumping so that you can feed your baby bottles, it is one almost surefire way to increase your supply. What you will be doing is tricking your body into thinking you have twins! While you are breastfeeding your baby on one side, pump on the other. This will make your body think that you are feeding two babies and help increase your supply. Another breast pump trick is to set yourself up for Power Pumping. This is a rigorous on and off pumping schedule that simulates a cluster feeding child.
7. Get your rest.
Sleep when the baby sleeps. This is one of the most important parenting tips ever…and not just for breastfeeding mothers! You are going to find this hard to do because there is laundry and dishes and dust bunnies, but you need to rest. If you do not give your body time to take a breather then you are not going to be able to take care of your baby…and that includes producing enough milk to help them grow.
8. Get help from your friends.
While this may not directly increase your breast milk supply, it will help your get through the rough patches. Have a friend on call to sit with you during a Power Pump. Ask a family member to hook you up with dinner once in a while so you can rest. Find a mom’s group to hang with and share experiences, advice, and a cocktail with. The phrase “it takes a village” is there for a reason. No one can do it alone.
I hope that at least one or two of these methods work for you to help increase your breast milk supply and keep your baby full and satisfied. Whether it is changing your diet or increasing your breastfeeding frequency something is going to work.
If you still find yourself needing additional support, seek out your local lactation consultant or La Leche League.