Every mother looks forward to nursing her new-born baby and bonding with her. Unfortunately, not all mothers can produce sufficient breastmilk. This can affect the baby’s physical and mental development. That said, the good news is that there are a number of steps you can take as a nursing mother to increase breast milk supply naturally. Let’s take a look.
It may seem counterintuitive but maintaining a breastfeeding schedule plays an important role in stimulating the production of breast milk. A mother’s body produces milk based on the demand for it. When you breastfeed your baby, you’re increasing the demand for breastmilk. This signals the body to make more milk.
For the first few weeks after delivery, you should ideally be feeding your baby every two to three hours. You may even need to wake your baby up for a feed. If you are working and unable to feed your baby as often as you would like, consider using a breast pump to express milk according to the same schedule.
Just as it is important to breastfeed regularly, it is also very important to breastfeed equally from both breasts. If you do not alternate breasts between feeds, one breast may produce more milk than the other. You should ideally alternate breasts for consecutive feeds. If you started the morning feed from the right, start the next feed from the left.
Make Sure Your Baby Can Latch On Properly
‘Latching on’ refers to how a baby holds on to your breast with his/her mouth. When a baby latches on correctly, the movement of his/ her tongue and jaw squeezes the milk ducts to pump milk out. However, many babies are unable to latch on properly. As mentioned above, this impacts the demand and supply of breastmilk. Since the baby is unable to latch on properly, s/he is not able to drain the milk out of your breasts which, in turn, keeps the breasts from producing more milk.
Stimulate Your Breasts
If you are unable to produce more milk even after maintaining a regular feeding schedule, consider stimulating your breasts manually. You could use either a breast pump or the hand expression technique. This may be done between feeds or after a feed. Expressing additional breastmilk also helps increase the demand for milk and stimulates the breasts to increase production.
To express breastmilk manually, start by massaging the breasts gently. Hold your breast with found fingers under the breast and the thumb on top such that your hand takes a ‘C’ shape. Gently push the breast backward and use a rolling motion to push breast milk out.
Have A Well-Balanced Diet
The amount of milk produced is also highly dependent on the mother’s diet. it is very important to eat a well-balanced diet. Nursing mothers should consume at least 500 calories more than what they were eating earlier. Your diet should include plenty of protein-rich foods such as eggs, yogurt, and flaxseed, essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D, Folic Acid, Iron and Calcium, and plenty of water. Food like oats, almonds and green leafy vegetables are known to have a positive impact on breast milk production.
Make The Right Choices
Just as some things are known to increase breastmilk supply, there are a few habits that can be detrimental to breastfeeding. For example, taking birth control pills within the first 6 weeks of delivery can lower the amount of breast milk produced. This is because these medicines contain oestrogen.
Similarly, drinking alcohol, caffeine or smoking can also interfere with breastmilk production. So, if you want to increase your breastmilk production, you must make smart decisions and avoid such habits. If you fall ill while you are nursing your baby, be sure to tell the doctor that you are breastfeeding so that they can prescribe medication accordingly.
What If None Of It Works?
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself still unable to produce enough breastmilk to satiate your baby’s hunger. In such cases, remember that store-bought formula is not your only option. Breastmilk contains a number of nutrients that cannot be found in any formula. A better choice would be to look for donor milk.
Donor milk refers to breastmilk that has been expressed by other lactating mothers. The milk is safe for your baby to consume and contains all the nutrients, growth factors and immunity boosters your baby needs. Use this donor milk to supplement your own breastmilk. This should keep your baby satiated and help you build a strong bond with your little one.