You Can Increase Your Breast Milk Supply, for Goodness Sake!

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mother feeding breast her baby in the bed. sleeping together

No doubt all new mothers have heard these comments when it comes to breastfeeding their baby, “Are you sure you have enough milk dear?”, or “He can’t be hungry again!” or “Maybe you don’t have enough milk”. And if you are a new mother with your first baby, these comments can get your breastfeeding confidence a bit rattled. If you are a first mother, let’s discover some important things about babies and breastfeeding and then look at problems around breastfeeding. Finally, we will look at solutions, which there definitely are. You are certainly not the first one to encounter these problems! Let’s look at the lives of newborns first:

1. How Often Do Newborns Need To Feed?  Increase Your Breast Milk Supply

It is pretty normal for a breastfed baby to want to be fed from around 8-12 times a day (24 hours), especially newborns. If you work this out, this could be every 2-3 hours. Sometimes (if you’re lucky!) you could have a stretch of 5 hours in-between. The time between feeds you count when your last feed started.

2. How Does the Baby Show He Wants Food? 

v  Possibly when he wakes up crying

v  When you pick him up and he turns his head to the breast with mouth open

v  Licks his lips

v  Sticks his tongue in or out

v  His elbows are bent up with hands clenched up over his chest with his fingers or hands to his mouth

v  He is fussing and squirming, like getting irritated, making little squeaky noises

3. Remember, There Is The Supply and Demand Method Too For Newborns  Increase Your Breast Milk Supply

Sometimes, when baby is brand new, in the very early weeks of breastfeeding, a new mother can tend to make more milk than what the baby will drink. This is due to high hormones driving the milk production. This high hormonal drive will gradually tone down as milk production gets controlled within your breast. As milk gets removed from your breast (known as the ‘demand’), it will stimulate the breasts to make more milk (the ‘supply). After a few weeks, the supply of milk settles down to match the baby’s needs, and to adjust to the supply and demand.

If you are breastfeeding, your breasts won’t ever be empty. Sometimes it is important not to wait the breast to “fill up” before feeding your baby. The more you drain the breasts of milk, the faster milk gets made and fills up. The less the milk is drained, the slower the filling up. This means breastfeeding the baby when he wants kind of ensures you make more milk to suit the baby.

Typically you will find that there is more breast milk in the breast early in the morning, with less as the day goes on. When feeding, try and ensure the one breast gets well drained. Then at the second feed, the baby will feed from the other breast, alternating between breasts. This will prevent mastitis (blocked ducts).

4. It’s Normal and Natural To Feed a Baby When He Wants It

Breastfeeding a baby, you are giving him the opportunity to get the perfect nutrition to start him off in life – as nature intended. It is nurturing as well for a baby. If your baby wants to breastfeed for whatever reason, it is normal and natural. You are not starting a bad habit. You are teaching him that you are there when he needs you. What a normal, natural and wonderful thing, just what a baby needs!

Now Let’s Look At You, Mom, If You Don’t Have Enough Milk, The Possible Reasons For This

There is evidence that diet plays a very important role in the production of breast mile. See whether you think this applies to you:

1. Are you eating well? Increase Your Breast Milk Supply

Pregnant women and breast-feeding women should eat more than a typical woman so that she has enough energy for milk production. A breast-feeding woman needs an extra 500 calories a day, eating a variety of healthy foods. Taking a vitamin supplement is important too, because the baby gets all the minerals and nutrients supplied to him through the breast milk. You should be having calcium daily, 3 portions of protein, leafy green vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, oily fish and low-fat dairy.

Fluids

You need plenty of fluids during breastfeeding. Water naturally is a top choice, but pure fruit juices and low-fat milk help with hydration too; to boost milk production. At least 8 cups of fluids is preferable. Coffee and tea is OK if it’s in moderation. Some herbal teas are healthy and have been noted to even stimulate milk production. You would need to check with doctor about herbal teas and supplements.

Specific Foods

Remember a poor diet, can certainly affect the quality of breast milk, actually depleting nutrients that the baby needs to enjoy optimal health. Some foods, aside from some herbal teas, also are known to increase milk supply. These are garlic, ginger, and oatmeal.

2.Are You Taking Supplements?

Apart from the diet, there are supplements that are actually marketed for the nursing mother. These claim to increase breast milk as well. There is no scientific research to prove the effectiveness of this. Read more about the herb, Fenugreek for example and you can explore other herbs too, like raspberry leaf, stinging nettle and alfalfa.

3.Apart From Diet, What Else Could Be Causing Poor Milk Supply? Increase Your Breast Milk Supply

Because an adequate supply of milk gets fueled by the demand, if there is anything that hinders the demand can cause problems. Look at these typical culprits and see if you fit in here:

  • Supplementing:Maybe you are adding formula to your baby’s menu. If this is the case, then the baby will naturally be taking less milk from your breasts. That in turn will cause the breast to produce less milk.
  • Feeding infrequently: If you are trying to stretch out the time between each meal, like trying to turn 2-3 hours into 4 hours, this will mean that the breasts won’t get the stimulation enough to produce adequate supplies of milk.
  • Short feeding times: Maybe you are making breastfeeding time shot, like 5 minutes from each breast, the baby will miss out on the fattier, more nutritious milk left behind and your breasts won’t get sufficiently drained. Without sufficient emptying, they don’t get that stimulation to produce more.
  • Pacifiers (dummies): Some babies, not all of them, love to suck on a pacifier and maybe this means less time or even inclination to suckle on the breast. It simply means again that less suckling equates to less milk production.
  • Not enough glandular tissue: It can be that some women don’t develop normally and might not have the sufficient milk-producing ducts for breastfeeding.
  • Surgery to breasts in the past: Whether you’ve had medical or cosmetic surgery to your breasts or you might have got yourself some nipple piercings; these could have caused damage to the milk ducts in the nipple. These will all depend on factors around when the surgery was done, complications, scarring, etc.
  • Jaundice and birth medications: Sometimes mothers don’t realize that medications that were used in labor, etc. and after can affect the baby’s ability to breastfeed effectively. Studies reveal that these effects can last up to a month or more, depending on what medication was used. Once the medication has cleared from the baby’s system, he will no doubt begin feeding well.

But You’ve Got Another Problem —
The Baby Is Refusing To Take Your Breast! Now What? how to Increase Your Breast Milk Supply 

A baby refusing to take the breast can be rather a distressing factor for a new mom.  She can feel desperate as she watches the baby twisting and turning, jerking away from the breast. A baby might refuse the breast at all feedings. You might even see that he is hungry, but he might be refusing to suck.

Sometimes you need to understand that you do get fussy babies who just take time to get going, and who eventually settle down. The fussy baby can even seem to get little satisfaction from feeding. He will suck a bit, and then break way, stopping and starting. He could also be a restless baby, easily distracted, pushing away with his fists or even his feet. He might stop when he is satisfied.  When you are managing a baby like this, as a mother, you need to stay patient and calm. Handle the baby gently. Deep breathe, put on some soft soothing music and carry him around a bit.  Relaxation and staying calm helps with the flow of the milk – it will come through as the baby latches on to the breast.  If you are feeling angry and upset, rather try again when you are calmer because a baby can also sense this agitation in you. Maybe a quiet, restful walk outside in nature for both of you will relax and calm you, enough to try and start again. If you are still worried, it can always be comforting to you to have your baby checked out thoroughly by a doctor. He can give you peace of mind that your baby seems healthy and content and let you know whether your little one is getting sufficient breast milk.

Ask yourself these questions also, to determine whether you have sufficient milk supply or not:

a)  How many of the feeds is baby refusing in 24 hours?

Remember, the number of feeds a baby needs will change as he grows. A brand new baby will need between 8-12 feeds in 24 hours, but an older baby will need less. There is a big difference between a 4-month old baby refusing one or two feeds of his eight than a baby of the same age refusing four or five feeds out of the eight.

b)  How many wet nappies are there in 24 hours?

Despite how many feeds your baby is getting, a good sign that your baby is getting enough feeds is by his bowel movements too. In 24 hours, there should be around 6-8 pale and wet-looking bowel movements, or around 5 very wet nappies that have pale kind of odorless urine in them. If the urine shows up dark with a strong smell, then you should let your doctor know. If your baby is reasonably content and looks alert with his eyes bright and good skin color, good muscle tone and is gaining weight, then it is probably likely he is sufficiently nourished.

Other reasons a baby could refuse the breast:

  • o Baby is confused by bottle feeds
  • o Overtiredness
  • o Recent immunizations
  • o Illness like a sore throat or earache
  • o Distractions
  • o Teething

The baby could refuse the breast because mom is:

  • Overstressed or over tired
  • Ill, or taking medications
  • Unusual foods in diet
  • Mom smells different, for e.g. perfumes, deodorants
  • Hormonal changes 

A Breast Pump Can Help and What is it Actually All About?Breast Pump can help increase breast milk

The rise of the breast pump was aimed precisely at those mothers who do face complications with their breastfeeding. In the early days, mothers would use their hands for pumping out the breast milk and this was very time-consuming and frustrating. It’s the reason why many mothers just shifted over to using formula milks that claimed to be just as equally as nutritious and fulfilling substitutes. Thing is, breast milk is really perfect for the baby, it’s the reason doctors and lactation experts will encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies naturally. Breast milk contains all the ingredients that are so important for the baby’s development and growth. It contains nutrients, minerals and very importantly, the antibodies that so effectively safeguard babies from disease.

Why Use a Breast Pump?

If you have a work schedule that is hectic or if you are battling with the baby who refuses to take the breast, you can have peace of mind using a breast pump. In these cases, storing your breast milk via a breast pump is a great option. Even if you are uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding away from home, a bottle of pumped breast milk will be perfect. For those mothers who underwent surgery to the breast, they find that using a breast pump is also a wonderful solution to feeding the baby.

How Does a Breast Pump Make Breastfeeding Easier? 

  • Breast pumps help with the extraction and storage of breast milk for a certain amount of hours. The baby can enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding so to speak when you are not there.
  • When baby is unable to latch to the breast, the breast pump can ‘fill in’ advantageously.
  • With regular pumping of breast milk, you prevent engorgement and heaviness of the breasts.

Which Breast Pump Is Best?

  • If you only want it for occasional use, a manual breast pump is effective.
  • For working mothers, an electronic breast pump would suit (for babies under 6 months).
  • Breast pumps should have shields that fit the breast nipples, positioning them perfectly for comfort.
  • Good breast pumps imitate the suckling actions of babies, with no pain.
  • Choose a breast pump with varying speeds and suctions to get the best comfort.

Where Do I Store The Pumped Milk? 

  • It is always best to store breast milk in baby-friendly type containers. Breast milk can be stored at room temperature for about 4 hours after collecting it. After that time, it would need to be stored in the refrigerator.
  • Once breast milk gets stored in the refrigerator, it needs to be consumed in less than 5 days of storing it. If you keep it in the freezer, then it needs to be used up in 2 weeks.
  • Don’t mix milks that have different temperatures.
  • Discard left over milk when you are finished feeding. Don’t store a second time.
  • Wash hands always before you touch the breast pump for ultimate hygiene.

Remember, mom, not to let a low milk production for your baby get you stressed out. Let go of negative thoughts which will only affect your milk supply and also affect your baby. Focus on positively addressing a low milk supply from the suggestions above; realizing that there are positive solutions. As someone once said, Breastmilk Each Day Helps Baby Work, Rest and Play!” Way to go!

1 COMMENT

  1. Healthy nursing tea was my absolute life saver!!! Had a dip in supply when my little one started sleeping through the night… as a “just enougher” every single ounce counted. Once I began drinking this tea I saw a HUGE difference!

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