Tips to naturally produce more breast milk
After growing a human for nine months, a mother’s body continues to be hard at work providing essential nutrients to her new little baby. While breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world, it can also be one of the most stressful. Making milk for a tiny human is hard enough work. When a mother is faced with latching issues, oversupply or undersupply, the breastfeeding journey can be a bumpy one. While many new moms set out to breastfeed, a study in Pediatrics reveals that around 60 percent of women have to stop breastfeeding earlier than they want to. Often times this is because they feel that they aren’t producing enough breastmilk. While there is no cure-all to creating more milk, this guide will discuss some ways to naturally increase breast milk supply.
Nurse on demand
Making milk is a matter of simple supply and demand. The more your breast is emptied, the more your body will refill with milk. Nursing on demand is probably the most crucial thing you can do to keep your supply up. Don’t watch the clock and don’t worry too about much about how long your baby is going between feedings. For a new baby, a schedule isn’t as important as nursing on demand.
When you see their hunger cues, feed them fully until your breasts are emptied. Remember that a new baby will often pop off and unlatch during feeding but this doesn’t always mean they are done or that your breast is empty. Try and re-latch the baby and have them keep feeding. In those early days, feedings will be slow as they get more proficient. Be patient and remember that they will get faster as you both get used to things. The most important thing you can do to make more milk is nurse and nurse some more.
Next to a baby, the pump is the second-best way to stimulate milk production. Since the goal is to empty your breast, a pump can be a handy way to express more milk and signal to your body that more is needed. One easy way to do this is when your baby starts to sleep more, you can replace a feeding with a pump session to keep your supply from going down.
Around the three month mark, your baby may start to establish a bedtime and go for longer stretches at night. If your baby previously ate at 11:00 p.m. for example, and now goes to bed at 8:00 p.m., you can pump at 9:00 p.m. before you go to bed to get a little extra milk. The same goes for the morning. If your baby starts sleeping a little later, you can pump before they wake up. An electric breast pump works well but if you’re having trouble getting enough out, try a hand pump. A hand pump may actually get more milk out in some cases.
Take a nursing staycation
If we know that breast stimulation is the key to making more milk, you can try taking a nursing staycation where you only focus on nursing as much as possible. If you’re able to take some time out of life, nursing on-demand for a 24-hour period can be really helpful to kick start your supply. You can literally just nurse as often as you and your baby like for an entire day. When your baby isn’t nursing you can squeeze some pumping sessions in there as well, the more you express, the better. Think of it as a nursing marathon, if you have other children at home, see if your partner or family can help take care of them so you can focus on nursing.
Try a massage
When your baby is nursing or your pumping, try hand massaging, your breast. Massaging your breast can help open up the milk ducts and release more milk. This is also good practice to prevent clogged ducts and infection that can happen when breasts get too engorged. While you’re nursing, simply place your hand over your breast and gently massage.
Heat is a natural muscle relaxer. Think about applying heat to sore muscles. It’s the same principle here. Applying heat to your breasts right before a feeding or pumping session can help your muscles relax and let down more milk. You can also try a warm shower after your nurse. After you nurse, you can take a warm shower and try to pump.
Drink plenty of water
As with any physical activity, hydration is key. While there is no direct correlation between drinking more water and producing more milk, staying hydrated is great for your overall health. The more hydrated you are the better your body functions. An easy way to remember is by drinking a glass of water every time you nurse or pump.
Get more sleep
While it may seem like a fantasy to get more sleep when you have a newborn baby, if you can make it happen, sleep will do wonders for your milk supply. The more sleep you can get the better off your body is. Sleep helps regenerate your cells, muscles, and bodily functions. That can apply to milk production as well. Try and sleep when your baby sleeps and when you get them on a schedule and bedtime routine, resist the urge to stay up later than them to get some television or mom time. Sleep is a much better use of your time.