New mothers commonly fear that they are not producing enough milk. The reassuring news is that there are strategies that are relatively simple and easy to employ to get more breast milk flowing.
Before implementing flow strategies, it is important to first accurately determine whether or not inadequate breast milk is even an issue.
The following are possible signs that your baby may not be getting enough milk:
- Your baby is not producing at least 5-6 wet diapers a day.
- Your baby is not producing at least 2-3 soiled diapers a day (these may or may not be included in the wet diapers).
- Your baby is not gaining appropriate weight as determined by your health care practitioner or is losing weight.
- Your baby is nursing frequently, at least 8-12 feedings a day.
Ensure a Proper Latch
In some cases, a baby may not be properly latching onto the breast and will not access adequate amounts of milk. To ensure your baby is latching properly, you may visit a breastfeeding clinic at your local hospital or contact La Leche League www.llli.org, an organization that supports breastfeeding mothers..
Supply and Demand
Breast milk production works on the basis of supply and demand. There is a direct correlation between the amount produced and the amount demanded by the child. The more milk “demanded”, the more milk “supplied”. If a mother decides to supplement formula to her baby’s diet because she fears he or she is not getting enough milk, her body will register this act as a decreased need for milk due to less suckling. In turn, her body will produce less milk. Therefore, before adding formula to the mix as a supplement, it is important to validate that you indeed have inadequate milk supply. Otherwise, the notion of having insufficient milk flow becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Tips for Increasing Breast Milk:
Ensure Adequate Nutrition & Hydration
In order to produce breast milk, you need to be eating regularly, especially foods with a good amount of healthy fat content since early breast milk is high fat. Ample hydration is essential as breast milk is also comprised of water. Drinking approximately 8 glasses of water a day is a good rule of thumb.
Traditionally, specific herbs have been recommended for improving the quantity of a woman’s milk supply. According to world-renowned breastfeeding expert Dr. Jack Newman, two of the most commonly used herbs are Blessed Thistle and Fennugreek. These may be taken safely immediately upon observation of low milk flow with minimal amounts reaching your baby. Fennel, raspberry leaf, and stinging nettle have also been shown to help.
Get as much sleep as you can. The better rested you are, the better your body will be able to function and therefore create milk. After the birth of your child, you will be up often during the night so it is best if you take advantage of every opportunity you have to sleep when baby is sleeping, including naps.
Use a Pump
Using a pump will help to increase the demand on your breasts and can therefore help to increase milk supply. Hospital grade electric pumps are recommended.
Commit to Full-Time Nursing
Take a few days to commit to nursing your baby full-time. Sometimes, the simple act of staying in bed and doing nothing else but nursing can help to increase the breastfeeding relationship and get you back on track.
While close to 95% of women are able to successfully breastfeed, many new moms do run into minor problems along the way. Confidence and determination are the most important traits a new mom needs to form a healthy and long-lasting breastfeeding relationship with her baby.