Increase Breast Milk
How to increase breast milk? Making enough breast milk is important when breastfeeding baby. Weather you’re nursing one or even multiple babies, breast milk production is key. During the first days after baby is born, baby has small and frequent meals on a highly valued early milk called colustrum. After breast milk comes in, you produce a more plentiful milk and may experience engorgement. After several weeks of breastfeeding on demand, your body regulates and produces just the right amount of milk for baby. It’s often at this time that breast engorgement reduces and some Moms even report their breasts feeling empty, even though they are not. However, for some Moms it doesn’t go smoothy and they need ways to increase breast milk. Here are some tips for making more milk and identifying false alarms.
How do you know baby isn’t getting enough breast milk? One reliable way is with wet diapers. How many should baby have? Once a mother’s milk comes in, on the 3rd or 4th day after delivery, a baby should produce 6-8 wet cloth diapers or 5-6 wet disposable diapers. Good output, or pee, is often how successful breastfeeding is determined and means that baby is having good input, or breast milk.
How often should baby nurse? Allowing baby to nurse on demand, for as long as he or she wants, is not only a great way to increase breast milk, but it’s also necessary for baby to consume enough. At first, breastfeeding a newborn can be challenging. Newborns are notorious for breastfeeding for long periods of time around the clock.However, as baby grows and gets better at nursing, you may notice longer times between feedings and shorter nursing sessions. (1,2)
- Breastfeeding Often
Experts agree that the best way to make more breast milk is by breastfeeding. Breastfeeding on demand allows baby to signal when he or she is hungry and control the number of meals, length of time nursing and end of nursing session. In addition, nursing baby tells your body to make more milk and when baby empties your breast it signals breast milk production. Allow baby to stop nursing on their own and offer the second breast if baby is finished with the first and is still looking for more breast milk. If baby falls asleep, continue nursing until baby unlatches or stops suckling. (2) Leaking on the other side? Reusable nursing pads are a great way to absorb leaks!
2. Skin to Skin Contact
Even when you’re not breastfeeding, skin to skin contact with baby helps increase breast milk. Skin to skin with baby increases the amount of prolactin, the breast milk producing hormone, you make. In addition, it helps you learn baby’s behaviors and makes it easier to identify his or her hunger cues early on. Skin to skin can be done in a baby carrier, while lying in bed or seated. Simply place baby’s skin to the skin on your chest, I’ve found that keeping baby in his diaper is helpful. (3)
3. Don’t Panic During Growth Spurts
After 6-8 weeks, when breast milk supply regulates, you may no longer feel full and baby may have a fairly regular nursing routine. However, growth spurts come and go. During this time, baby may increase the number of times he or she nurses and the length of time during each session. Don’t panic. Baby may be nurse more often to take in more milk, to increase breast milk amount and to gain more calories needed for growing. Spurts often happen around 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks and 3 months but this is not set in stone. (2)
4. Avoid Synthetic Nipples
There are many reasons for avoiding synthetic nipples and interference with breast milk production is one. Baby may have difficulty adjusting mouth muscles to a pacifier and then to your natural nipple. In addition, introducing a synthetic nipple can lead to sore nipples for you and cause pain or even nipple injury. This can cause difficulty with latch and decrease the frequency that baby nurses, thus telling your body to make less milk. (1,2)
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5. Good Nutrition and Hydration
In order for you to produce enough breast milk, you have to have enough fluid and nutrition in your own body. While I can’t find a scientific study, many Moms swear by the power of whole oats and hydration. Oats can be consumed in lactation cookies, hot oatmeal with all the fixings and in many other foods. I personally find that eating whole oats with a sprinkle of dried cranberries, nuts, a cut up banana and a spoonful of peanut butter to be an amazing milk supply booster.
If all else fails, your lactation consultant may recommend supplements like fenugreek and blessed thistle (4). These herbs are available in teas and pill form online and in many stores. In some cases, a physician may even recommend a drug like domperidone that’s side effect is milk production (5). Keep in mind that with all supplements, herbal and medication, to consult with a certified lactation consultant and/or the company for proper dosage information and safe use.
Remember that breast milk production is tied directly to baby. Nursing on demand by allowing baby to control frequency and length of meals is key. Baby signals your body to produce more breast milk. Pumping? Skin to skin contact and increasing the length and frequency of pump sessions can help too. There are experts to help! Finding a local IBCLC for a consult may help greatly and support groups like your local La Leche League chapter can provide a network of local nursing Moms.
This article in no way provides medical advice or makes individual recommendations. Please consult with your physician or lactation consultant for individual recommendations.