Breastfeeding is not only a wonderful source of nutrition for your child but it also does amazing things for you as a mother. But what happens if you can’t produce enough breast milk? In this post I will share with you 10 ways to naturally increase your breast milk supply.
I loved breastfeeding. So much so that I breastfed my youngest for 2 years and would have kept going if I didn’t want to get pregnant again. Unfortunately I am not one of the lucky ones that can while breastfeeding. But it didn’t always come easy for me. I ran into my fair share of issues while breastfeeding that I had to overcome. One of which was low milk supply.
Instead of panicking and and resorting to supplementing with formula or quitting altogether I decided to do my research and persevere. Stress and mommy guilt can do terrible things to your supply and your overall psyche. I found that the more I stressed and worried the harder it was for my milk to let down.
Here are 2 ways I learned to stay at ease while breastfeeding…
- Breast milk digests at a very fast rate so children being hungry often and not sleeping through the night at 2 months isn’t necessarily a sign of low milk supply.
- Is your child gaining weight? If they are, then you usually have nothing to worry about when it comes to milk supply.
The best thing to do if you are worried is to call the Le Leche League near you and have them evaluate the problem. If the problem is in fact low milk supply and not poor latch or lip/tongue tie, then there are plenty of ways to increase your breast milk supply naturally without stress or worry.
Here are my 10 tips for increasing milk supply naturally:
- Nurse as much as possible and as often as possible. Try not to put a time limit on yourself or your baby or feel like you need to be on some sort of schedule right out of the gate. Basic supply and demand — the more you nurse the more your body will figure out that it needs to make more milk to meet the demand. I actually laid in bed for the first week with my second son and just kept him on the boob nearly the entire time. It was incredibly special and did the trick!
- Nurse skin to skin when possible. It is incredibly bonding and it also releases the hormones that are necessary for milk production and let down.
- Try and stay away from bottles, pacifiers and even food for as long as possible as these items can satisfy oral fixation and make your baby less likely to want to nurse. Easier said than done for working mommy’s so just do what you can but maybe try and limit to one bottle a day in the beginning, that your husband gives the baby as not to cause nipple confusion.
- Try and stay relaxed. The tenser you get the harder it is for your milk to let down. I know this is so hard to do with a newborn when you are exhausted and confused and trying to do everything right. Just keep telling yourself that you are a wonderful mother, that you are trying your best and you will all survive and be alright. I promise!
- Drink water and don’t forget to eat! I kept a ½ gallon bottle of water with me at all times in the beginning and drank constantly. Not only are you incredibly thirsty when nursing but your body needs to fluid to produce more milk. I was also starving in the beginning and actually ate more in the first month post pregnancy then I did while pregnant. You need the fuel and the calories to produce milk. Try not to be concerned with weight loss early on as it will come off eventually but for now just focus on your baby. They say for exclusive breastfeeding that you will need up to 500 additional calories a day.
- Pump! Sometimes pumping after every feeding also helps…even if you do not plan on using a bottle. Just emptying both breasts and pumping for 8-10 minutes more just increases the nipple stimulation which will increase milk supply.
- Eat certain foods – Almonds, sesame seeds, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, flaxseed, brewers yeast and barley can all naturally increase milk supply.
- Lactation Cookies – Eat these babies and you won’t have to worry about figuring out how to get more millet in your diet. Here are my favorite recipes: Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies and Booby Bites Energy Snack.
- Supplements, Tea and Spices – Fenugreek capsules, Brewers yeast and alfalfa are three supplements when used either separately or together aid in the milk production. I also swear by Mothers Milk tea. I started drinking this an hour after I gave birth. Some spices to consider putting in your smoothies, teas or food are, fennel, ginger and turmeric. When used daily can also help!
- Essential Oils – Basil, Clary sage and Fennel. Can be used separately or together with a carrier oil. You need to figure out what works best for you. My doula recommended that I rub these on my breasts (avoiding the nipple area) and it helped tremendously.
Our bodies were made to do this so have confidence that you can and I am sure it will all work out. Try not to beat yourself up and remember that this time after birth is incredibly emotional — stay calm and remember that there are options. I hope this helps.