Monitoring breast milk supply can be a full time job. Many breastfeeding mothers track how long a feeding lasted, how long the baby was on each breast, how long the baby slept after, and how many wet or poopy diapers the baby produced. It may be a lot of information, but it's all very important and helpful for a mom trying to determine if she has adequate supply or not. If a nursing mom isn't producing optimally she may question how to make more milk.
As you know, everything moms do and ingest has an impact on their bodies and functions, including breastfeeding. What a mother is doing (or not doing) in her lifestyle may be having an effect on her milk supply. Part of figuring out the issue is trying different techniques to stimulate the production of more milk. It's important to note that sometimes there are certain medical factors that make producing more milk difficult or completely impossible. According to Le Leche League International (LLLI) if a woman has any type of breast injury or breast surgery prior to breastfeeding, her ability to breastfeed may be impacted. This is not only related to breast augmentation or implants.
As a teenager, I had a breast biopsy because my doctors were worried about a liquid that was leaking from my nipples. In the end, it was non-cancerous fluid and most likely caused by the birth control I was using. Years later, as a new mom, I experienced challenges in breastfeeding. My doctors explained that a milk duct may have been damaged during my surgery, which was possibly impacting my supply.
Medical trauma to a breast doesn't automatically inhibit one's ability to breastfeed. It may simply mean making adjustments in order to sustain an adequate supply. Regardless of why it's happening, one of the best ways to determine if you have low supply is by trying to increase it and observing what happens. Here are eight ways to try to make more milk.
1Feed Often And Limit Supplementation
Breastfeeding is simply supply and demand. What To Expect explained that adding formula takes away time from the breast. You have less demand, and therefore, you have less milk supply.
One of the best ways to boost milk supply is breastfeeding frequently, according to the site. Nursing regularly instead of stretching out the time between meals, means your breasts will be stimulated and hopefully producing the right amount of milk for your baby.
2Ensure Your Baby Is Getting A Proper Latch
It's all about the latch. According to another article on What To Expect, having an improper latch messes up the flow of breast milk. The site explained that milk comes out of several tiny openings in the nipple. But your baby's gums need to compress the areola and milk sinuses under it. If that latch doesn't happen your milk won't let down and new milk won't be made by your body.
All latches look a little different. But, if you're questioning or have concerns about your baby's latch it may be time to ask a lactation consultant or medical professional.
3Nurse For Longer Periods Of Time
Older babies might be milk sucking speed demons, but their less experienced newborn friends require a bit longer. According to LLLI, the length in let down time may be increased by a newborn who's just learning to nurse. The site suggested that mothers wait until the baby shows signs of fullness like self-detaching and relaxing their hands and arms before cutting off a feeding session. It may be inconvenient for the mother, but using your babies cues for how often and how long to nurse will allow your breasts to empty and fill up adequately for your baby's needs.
4Limit Use Of Pacifiers
The research and literature surrounding pacifier use is conflicting. Some say pacifiers help babies learn to suck, others say it inhibits them from sucking properly. The one detail everyone seems to agree upon is when to use them. According to Kelly Mom, a pacifier should be introduced once an adequate milk supply is established in a nursing mother. The site suggested if you're observing issues like low milk supply and poor weight gain it may be time to take away the pacifier at least until the issue is resolved.
5Try To Rest
Web MD suggested that mothers who are having issues with breastfeeding like low supply take a breastfeeding vacation. Unfortunately this is not exactly a trip to the Bahamas. Well, actually it could be. Wherever you go whether it's to the Bahamas or your bed, you should be doing as hardly anything but feeding your baby. A breastfeeding vacation is where you unplug from the outside world as much as you can, limit commitments, and spend time relaxing, healing and eating with your baby for about two to three days.
6Ward Off Stress
According to the same Web MD article, stress can really impact your let down reflexes. It won't hit your supply, but it will make it harder for your baby to get the milk they need.
Need more help around the house? Need a co-worker to step up more? What about those out of town visitors that are just chomping at the bit to come stay with you and love all over your baby? You have the power to stop the madness.
7Eat A Nutritious Diet
Generally speaking, eating a nutrient packed diet will help your body do all the wonderful things it needs to do. Breastfeeding is no exception. According to the Mayo Clinic, nursing mothers should be eating foods rich in iron, protein, and calcium. To help your body absorb the iron you should be eating foods like fruits with high Vitamin C content. If you eat the foods that give you the most fuel you will be able to function optimally. Having ideal conditions in your body will help breastfeeding and it's just good for you. Win, win.
8Eat Lactation Cookies
These cookies aren't like Oreos. Lactation cookie eaters claim these nutrient packed confections are also yummy. Lactation cookies contain galactagogues which are substances that promote lactation in humans and animals, according to Parenting magazine. The same article explained that the brewer's yeast, wheat germ, flaxseed meal, and whole oats in the cookies are really what helps increase milk supply.
Trying one, two, or even all of these tips is an effective way to tackle a milk supply issue. Tracking what works and what doesn't will also help you navigate your breastfeeding journey.