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How can I Increase Breast Milk Supply?
I hear this from so many moms. Moms who are constantly worried that their breast milk supply will not be high enough to exclusively breastfeed their baby. I believe the biggest reason for this is that we have grown up in a generation that rarely breastfed. The bulk of our mothers either worried that they could not breastfeed because their baby did not latch on right away or that they felt that their baby cried too much so they must not be producing enough milk.
Fast forward 20+ years and now we are being told how amazing breastfeeding is and we want to give it a try. Although now we have grown up thinking that its a 50/50 chance that we as new moms will be able to breastfeed and produce a substantial amount of milk for a newborn.
*Here are a few facts about breastfeeding that you may not know. I am not a doctor or a medical professional but these are my experiences as a breastfeeding mom.
(THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS HOWEVER, I WILL NEVER RECOMMEND ANYTHING THAT I DO NOT BELIEVE IN OR USE MYSELF. YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT MY DISCLOSURE POLICY HERE)
When is Breast Milk Established?
Breast milk begins being produced in your breasts while you are still very pregnant with your baby. It starts off as colostrum which is usually a golden/yellow sticky and thin type of breast milk that is high in antibodies and is perfect for a newborn to drink when they first enter our world. As women, our bodies know exactly what to do even if we don’t.
When you first give birth to your newborn baby, you should try to latch him/her as soon as possible and start breastfeeding. By latching your baby and having them breastfeed for the first time, you are signaling your body that your baby is here and needs breast milk. And every time your baby nurses after that you are sending another signal to your body to produce more and more breast milk.
Usually, after 3-5 days of exclusive breastfeeding, your breast milk comes in to take over and supply your baby with exactly the milk that they need.
Why is My Breast Milk Supply Low?
When talking about low milk supply the problem is that many moms think they have a low milk supply but are actually dealing with latching issues, or tongue-ties. Don’t get me wrong there are mothers out there who simply have a low milk supply but studies have shown that they are very rare.
Many moms often give up on breastfeeding because their babies are crying every hour and they feel that they must not be eating enough. But the truth is that within the first few days after birth your baby needs to nurse constantly. This could even mean every 30 mins to every hour. Breast milk is digested a lot quicker than formula and so this means that a breastfed baby will want to eat sooner than a formula fed baby.
Now saying all of that I do acknowledge that there are definitely times that your breast milk supply may be low due to other factors such as not being able to breastfeed right after birth or having a baby in the NICU. Life doesn’t always go exactly as planned.
Just remember that breastfeeding works by supply and demand. Your body is stimulated through your baby breastfeeding and this tells your body how often your baby needs milk and how much they need.
1. Skin to Skin
Skin to skin is one of the most beneficial things that you can do right after birth or as soon after as possible. When your baby is born they come into a very bright, cold world that can be scary at first, so being against your warm skin not only helps your milk supply to kick start but it also helps to naturally warm your baby and help comfort them by hearing your familiar heartbeat.
And if you didn’t know it is possible to have skin to skin even if you have a C-Section birth as long as everything is going okay. Being able to have my baby against my chest while I was being sewn up was the most amazing feeling after seeing him for the first time.
Also, skin to skin is not just done in the hospital. You can do it at home as well. When we first came home I would do skin to skin and put a blanket over me and my baby so we could keep each other warm and form a bond.
2. Nurse on Demand
As I said breastfed babies are able to digest breast milk so fast that they need to eat a ton after birth. Also once your breast milk comes in after a few days you will be thankful for all the times that they woke you up to nurse.
If you are not breastfeeding on demand – start now. Newborn babies do not need to be on a schedule. Every baby is different and needs exactly how much breast milk their body is asking for. So when your baby wants to breastfeed don’t worry about how long ago it was. Instead, just test to see if they are truly hungry.
One super easy way to test if your baby wants to nurse is by touching their cheek with your finger and seeing if they turn that way with their mouth open to suck. This is called the rooting reflex and it’s how your baby finds your nipple when they want to breastfeed.
3. Drink Water
Drink plenty of water and then drink some more.
So our bodies need tons of water already, but when you add a breastfeeding baby to the mix you need even more water to supply breast milk for them. My advice is to drink whenever you are thirsty.
When I was breastfeeding my son, I would get extremely thirsty as soon as he latched onto my breast. It was as if my body was saying, “Hey there replace what he’s taking.” Haha! But seriously listen to your body and drink every time you feel thirsty. It helps so much with breastfeeding and helping your body heal from childbirth.
4. Get Some Rest
It’s harder than it sounds but always try your best to let your body recover. Think about it for a second. You just brought another human being into this world and are now getting accustomed to producing milk to continue to support your baby.
When someone offers to help out with the baby, take a few minutes to sit down and rest. And whatever you do, if the baby falls asleep you need to sleep. I truly wish I had taken this advice the first time around.
5. Use a Breast Pump to Increase Milk Supply
Using a breast pump is almost like breastfeeding your baby so when your milk supply is low and your baby is simply not hungry use a breast pump. Try to pump right after you breastfeed your baby. Just pumping for 5-10 minutes on each breast can help stimulate your breasts and signal your body to make more milk for your baby.
Since every breastfeeding mom has a different lifestyle here is how to choose the right breast pump for you.
And if you need help getting a breast pump – Here is how you can get a breast pump for FREE!
6. Breastfeeding Diet – Foods that Promote Milk Production
Okay, you don’t have to go on a diet. Instead, you should be adding more calories to your daily intake. Just like with water, you have to supply more calories for your body to burn and create nutritious breast milk for your growing baby. Try to add foods to your diet that naturally increase breast milk.
Oatmeal – Oatmeal is a great source of iron and because of this it can help increase your milk supply. Some moms have had great success with eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast each morning.
Almonds – Raw nuts such s almonds are packed with protein and calcium.
Dark Green Vegetables – Dark leafy green vegetables are full of nutrients that have a positive effect on breast milk. Some of the best ones are lettuce, broccoli, spinach, and kale.
Eat plenty of snacks – Do not! I repeat do not worry about losing weight when you are trying to boost your breast milk supply. You need to fuel your body and when your body tells you that you need a quick snack – grab one. When I was breastfeeding my son, I loved eating snack bars that I could keep in the diaper bag.
Pro Tip – Many times your body will give you a good idea of what you should be eating through cravings. Trust me the weird cravings do not stop after you have your baby.
7. Best Lactation Cookies
Lactation cookies are the best thing in the world when you are a breastfeeding mom – because you are always hungry lol. You can either buy them already made or make your own at home. I like to make my own since it is so much cheaper. Here is the lactation cookie mix that I liked the best.
8. Breast Milk Tea
Many moms have found a ton of success with drinking Mother’s Milk tea that naturally increases your breast milk. It’s an herbal tea that has many of the most popular ingredients that are known to help support and increase a mother’s breast milk.
9. Breast Milk Supplements
Sometimes adding a supplement to your foods, drinks, or even taken in pill form can help add to your breastfeeding supply. Here are some of the most common ones.
10. Seek out Help from Lactation Specialists
Whenever you are in doubt and nothing else works, seek a board certified lactation consultant for help with breastfeeding your baby. Lactation consultants are so incredibly helpful and can provide instant feedback after hearing what problems you may be dealing with. The one that I recommend is Milkology which was created by Stacy Stewart.
Stacy is a certified lactation educator and mom of 3. Through her journey as a lactation consultant, she has helped thousands of breastfeeding moms to empower themselves and reach their goals.
Medicine to Increase Breast Milk Supply
Okay, although taking medication is definitely not what worked for me, I do feel that I need to talk about my experience with it to help other breastfeeding moms.
When I had decided to try a prescription medication to help get my breast milk increase, I had not breastfed my daughter in weeks. I felt so disconnected from her and wanted to give breastfeeding another try. But when I realized that I could take prescription medicine, I was all for giving it a chance.
However the morning after taking my very first dose of the prescription, I felt a little weird. I couldn’t explain what I was feeling other than that, so my husband decided to take me to the Emergency Room. But on the way there I kept feeling like my lips were going numb and my jaw kept slightly moving over to the other side of my mouth. It was so crazy that I couldn’t believe it.
I had an Allergic Reaction to a Prescription for Increasing Breast Milk Supply
When we finally got to the hospital, my jaw had fully been spasming to one side of my mouth and it was horribly painful. As it continued to get worse and I was taken back, I felt couldn’t keep from biting myself. It was as if my mouth had a mind of its own and it was some of the worst pain I have ever felt.
After waiting a few minutes and having a full panic attack the doctor finally came in and gave me a shot of Benadryl in my iv. Within seconds I felt my jaw relaxing and I started to get drowsy. We found out later that I had an allergy to the prescription that I had taken and it was really rare. Once we were able to leave the hospital, I had to take Benadryl every six hours to make sure I didn’ have any more allergic reactions to the medication.
Of course, this may not be your experience, but when this happened to me, I never wanted it to happen to anyone else. So if you decide to go the route of taking a prescription please talk with your doctor and proceed with caution.
MORE BREASTFEEDING POSTS:
- 9 Seriously Lifesaving Breastfeeding Essentials
- 6 Reliable Tips for Breastfeeding in Public
- Tips for Breastfeeding a Teething Baby
- 12 Fun Ways for New Dads to Help and Be Involved with a Breastfed Baby
- 7 Reasons Why I FAILED at Breastfeeding My First Baby