It can be frustrating at times when you do not produce enough milk for your little one. This is very common and could be triggered by a range of issues; poor nutrition, health issues, latching difficulties and more.
As with all things breastfeeding, you will have to attempt to train your body to behave differently. This will take some trial and error as not everyone will respond in the same way to the techniques laid out below.
If you create an environment that is complementary to milk production, then you just have to pay attention and adapt as needed. In order to help you create this environment, we have put together these easy to follow guidelines on how you can increase your milk supply.
Identify the Cause of Low Milk Production
The key to increasing your milk supply is to target the cause of why your production is low in the first place.
There may be multiple factors involved in your feeding troubles including having had breast augmentation surgery, infant latching or tongue tie issues, stress, medications, and some diseases that women can get including polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Note: If you have had breast or nipple surgeries in the past, check out this site for more information breastfeeding after augmentation.
Some of these causes will require medical intervention, and you should consult your doctor.
In most cases, you just need to pay attention to your habits, diet and lifestyle to naturally influence your body and increase your breast milk supply.
Home Remedies to Naturally Increase Milk Supply
1. Nurse Frequently
Babies digest breastmilk in 2 hours or less on average which is why they need to eat so often. Do not be afraid to nurse on demand or think that you are “spoiling” your baby by putting her to your breast frequently.
The more often you nurse and empty your breasts, the more frequently the receptors in your ducts will signal your hormones to produce more.
Some doctors warn against co-sleeping because accidents can happen and SIDS is linked to bed sharing; however when done safely, co-sleeping can increase your milk supply because you are in contact with your baby more often and your body can sense this.
Being near your baby will activate your let down reflexes and signal your body to produce more.
3. Feed from Both Breasts
Switching sides is important not only to ensure baby is full and satisfied but to also make sure that moms are producing milk in each breast evenly and efficiently.
Switching sides 2 or more times during each nursing session will help your comfort level.
You can also use compression while your infant is eating to push more milk out through the nipple and let down the ducts to allow a steadier flow.
4. Avoid Artificial Nipples
Babies suckle to soothe themselves and while a pacifier or bottle nipple may be a quick and easy solution, there are some drawbacks to giving artificial nipples such as problems latching and switching from bottle to breast.
The more often your breasts and nipples are stimulated by your infant, the higher your milk production will be.
5. Wait to Start your Baby on Foods
The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends not starting babies on solid foods until they reach 6 months old.
Most pediatricians will concur that babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months of life.
If you plan to breastfeed longer than 6 months to a year postpartum, waiting to start foods will prolong your breast milk production and sustain your current supply much easier.
6. Pumping Between Feedings
Pumping in between feedings or set times of the day like as soon as you wake up, immediately after showering, or after meals, will increase your supply for the same reasons as feeding your baby more often.
The more milk that comes out, the more that will be produced.
We have reviewed the best breast pumps on the market here.
Being a new mom, the first, and only, thing on our minds is our babies but it is important to take care of yourself as well.
Stress is linked to low milk production and the more you can eliminate stress from your life, the easier it will be to increase your milk supply.
Rest and sleep when the baby sleeps, do yoga, get a massage, eat a healthy diet and take time out to do the activities you enjoy, including socializing with other friends and family.
Your body is the main machine that produces the milk and it is important fuel it with food and nutrients that can support you while you are breastfeeding.
Here are some of the foods that you need to eat if you are breastfeeding:
- Green Leafy Vegetables –These are a great source of iron, calcium, folate, riboflavin, and betacarotene. These nutrients are necessary for the enhancement of lactation. Examples of these vegetables are spinach, mustard greens, and fenugreek leaves. It is recommended that you eat at least two servings per day while breastfeeding.
- Fenugreek Seeds – These seeds have been used for many generations to increase breastmilk. It contains omega-3 fats and is also rich in vitamin B, betacarotene, iron and calcium.
- Sesame Seeds – For those who want a non-dairy source of calcium, sesame seeds are your best bet. Calcium is an important source of nutrition for lactating mothers.
- Lentils – A great source of protein and is also rich in iron and fiber, that can also help in improving breastmilk supply.
- Nuts and Dried Fruits – Nuts and almonds are believed to boost breast milk production. It can also provide energy and is a great source of nutrients that can support lactation.
- Oatmeal – While this is viewed as an old wives tale, many women swear by oatmeal as a great way to naturally increase your milk production. It is healthy, soothing, and can be awesome comfort food.
Lactation smoothies are a great way to get a lot of these nutrients into your system. Especially when you are strapped for time, as all new parents are!
9. Hydrate to Lactate
You must also remember to keep your fluids up. While you are feeding you are draining a lot of fluid from your body.
For your body to continue to function properly, you will need to drink plenty of water.
Continual dehydration can lead to health problems such as constipation, low energy, and even hemorrhoids.
So keep those reserves high so that your body can continue producing milk without unnecessary strain on your system.
10. Herbal Supplements(Galactagogues)
Most women should not require supplements to increase their milk supply. However, it can be a great help for working moms who may be pumping regularly.
The extra herbal stimulation from by incorporating galactagogues into their daily routine can compensate for the reduced time with their baby.
If you are worried about your milk supply issues, you are not alone. Most new moms experience anxiety related to the care of their newborns and feeding issues are common amongst mothers and babies in the first few weeks.
If you follow the above steps you will give your body the best chance of naturally producing all the milk your little one needs.
However, if you need further assistance you should consult with your lactation consultant, a support group, or your physician to determine the causes and solutions for low milk supply.
Prescription medications are an option for mothers who don’t have the appropriate levels of prolactin to lactate normally.
Medications commonly used include Reglan, Motilium, and sulpirides.
These drugs work by blocking dopamine which increases the production of prolactin. Medications like these are not guaranteed to work for all women and often generate side effects such as severe depression due to the dopamine blockage.
So they should always be the last resort.