Breastfeeding isn’t for every mom. Although it’s meant to be the most natural thing in the world, the truth is that it can be hard to make it work. Some moms take to it with ease, but others struggle a little. There are plenty of questions when it comes to breastfeeding, one common query is how to increase breast milk supply naturally. Luckily nature helps out and your body supplies more milk as your baby grows.
It’s usually a case of supply and demand – as the milk is used it is replaced for the next feed. Sometimes nature needs a little nudge and this is when you can turn to simple methods to boost breast milk production.
Here are 9 of the best ways to do that:
1. Eat Well
You have to look after yourself when you are breastfeeding. Your diet is important and should be full of fruit, veg, whole grains and protein. Producing milk burns calories too, in fact, you need 600-700 extra calories every day when you are feeding your baby. If you skip meals or fill up on junk food, it could affect milk production so eat regularly and healthily to keep the supply flowing.
2. Keep Hydrated
It’s a simple thing, but drinking plenty of water helps to increase your production of breast milk. Being hydrated is essential and to keep on top of this, create an easy schedule. It’s a good idea to have a large glass of water at every feed as a starting point. Having a refillable bottle and a bottle warmer to hand at all times increases consumption and it’s nice to have one with a built-in straw so you can sip with one hand free. Take it with you when you leave the home too.
3. Get Some Sleep
Getting quality sleep seems like an impossible dream when you have a newborn baby but it’s a necessity. Grab a nap when your baby sleeps, and leave the ironing to someone else. Take any offers of help that come your way to ensure you get as much shut-eye as possible. When you feed in the night, try and keep the room as quiet and dark as possible so you don’t overstimulate your brain. That way, getting back to sleep again should be easier once the feed is over. Being overtired can lower your breast milk supply so keep well rested to prevent this.
How to Increase Breast Milk Supply when Pumping
For moms who pump their milk, try doing this a little more often to increase the production. Another popular method is to massage the breasts manually before pumping or during the process. This massaging action will release milk more completely. It can also help to prevent mastitis.
Pump and Feed Routine
The natural production of breast milk reacts to demand. The more milk that leaves the breast, the more new milk your body will produce to fill the demand. If your baby doesn’t feed in a regular pattern, it might mean your body is confused about how much milk to produce. With a pump and feed routine, you can level things out. Make sure that you either feed your baby or pump the milk in a schedule that empties your breasts 8 times every 24 hours. With a regular quantity taken every day and night, you will increase your breast milk supply.
If your little one tends to slip into a milk coma mid feed, switching breasts will help to even out the demand for milk. The trick is to time the switch just right – as soon as your baby starts to loosen their suck, stop them from feeding on one side and place them on the other breast. Swapping the breast when your baby is far from full usually rouses them so they suckle with full force again. You can repeat this until both breasts are empty in an even way, with more milk demanded. If your baby just can’t stay awake long enough for some of the feeds, use a pump to empty the second breast.
De-stress for a Greater Milk Supply
Stress will do nothing for your breast milk production. If you are feeling overwhelmed by life, work or family you need time to unwind. Meditation works wonders – study the method and you will reap the benefits. If you prefer yoga, something gentle is exactly what you need. Then there are breathing methods that heal the mind and spirit when things get too much. Join a class, or search online for something you can do to release the stress. Ask for a little help so you can take time out to relax, and share some of the workload if offered. You don’t have to do it all on your own.
Alternative Herbs and Teas
If you research how to increase breast milk supply, you find herbal teas come highly recommended. There has been little scientific research carried out into their effectiveness, but plenty of moms swear by them. Blessed thistle tea is top of the list – make this by simply adding 2 or 3 teaspoons of this dried herb into a cup of boiling water and leave for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain the liquid to remove the herb and sip. It’s important to know that some people are allergic to blessed thistle and they get an upset tummy.
Fenugreek is used to help with diabetes, high blood pressure, viral infections and inflammation but it’s also used for increasing milk flow. Add fenugreek seeds to boiling water and leave for 5 minutes to make a tea.
Mother’s Milk Tea is a milk-boosting combo of herbs like fenugreek and blessed thistle plus a few others. It comes in teabag form, you can find mother’s milk at the usual drugstores. It’s easy to use and highly affordable.
Bake a Batch of Lactation Cookies
Lactation cookies are delicious snacks that are for mommas only. Easy to bake at home and full of ingredients to boost milk supply, these grab-n-go bars are a treat. Look on the internet and you will find several recipes and all include oatmeal, an ingredient that is high in iron. Brewers yeast and flax seeds are in the mix as well to increase your intake of B vitamins and probiotics. You can bake a batch to last you several days so you have a handy supply ready in the store cupboard.
The Bottom Line
Having enough breast milk is a major concern for lots of new moms. It’s comforting to know that there are a few natural things you can try to boost supply. Some of these might work for you, some might not but breastfeeding doesn’t have a rule book. One of the best things you can do is relax into it and not get too anxious.
Know that every mom and baby is different but you can do this together. If you need to pump sometimes and can’t put your baby straight on the breast, there’s nothing wrong with that. And if you have to add some formula to make things work, then that’s fine too.