But what happens when you can’t produce enough milk for baby?
Our first inclination is to panic but that’s the last thing we want to do. Stress depletes milk supply more than anything else. We breathe deep and remember that everything will be OK. The second thing we do is not resort to formula right away. Instead, we focus on increasing our own supply which many women have been able to do successfully without resorting to drugs or formula.
Tips to increase breast milk production:
1. Nurse, nurse, nurse…
There is nothing that can increase your supply like your baby’s suckling. You see, breast milk creation is all about supply and demand, and it’s a tightly regulated system. Don’t worry if your breasts don’t feel full or think baby isn’t getting much milk, the sucking reflex will help stimulate more milk the next day.
2. Nurse skin-to-skin
Take a “nursing vacation” and spend a day or days with baby in bed with no shirt on and nurse skin-to-skin as much as possible. It’s not only incredibly bonding for mama and baby, it also helps release more of the hormones that produce milk as well as the milk ejector hormones. Continue this practice during nap time, bedtime, and throughout night.
3. Put no time limit to nursing sessions
Self explanatory but bottom line, If you are struggling with supply, do not try to schedule feedings or limit how much time baby is on each breast.
4. Don’t use pacifiers, bottles or food
These not only satisfy the oral stimulation but can reduce hunger, making the baby less likely to nurse. Only limit solid food if your baby is less than 6 months and he/she is at a healthy weight. Obviously, use common sense.
5. Get enough sleep and stay relaxed
Easier said than done with a newborn but try as best you can. Studies show that mothers produce more milk and have a better milk letdown when they are calm and relax. Nap when baby naps. Get a babysitter, neighbor or family member to help out. Cancel or eliminate too many outside activities and keep things simple. Order takeout or better yet have friends or hubby cook you homemade meals in bulk for easy access to nutritious food. Listen to tranquil music, think of flowing streams and trust that you can and will successfully nurse your baby.
6. Watch your diet
Want to produce more milk? Eat more greens! Think about it… cows produce ample milk and they live on grass. Green juices, powders and fresh vegetables are all great sources. Oatmeal, barley, millet and quinoa have also been shown to increase milk supply as well as spices like garlic, ginger and turmeric. Of course, Mother’s Milk tea, the herb fenugreek, and moringa powder are supposed to be the most helpful foods to boost supply. Be sure you are eating and drinking enough to keep up with the demands of nursing. For exclusive breastfeeding, you are going to need at least 500 calories more a day.
7. Pump in-between nursings
Pumping can be a great short-term way to keep your breast stimulated and producing more milk. Be sure to pump about an hour after you last nursed and at least an hour before you nurse again to be sure baby is getting enough of your milk. The hours of 2-5 a.m. and morning are best because milk production is highest (although not good for sleep arrangements.) I found after the first nursing of day was best.
8. Take some helpful supplements
Fenugreek is one of the most popular herbal supplements to boost supply. Nutritional yeast flakes or brewer’s yeast is another great supplement as are green powders, calcium and bentonite clay due to their calcium and alkalinizing effects. Blessed thistle and alfalfa are natural milk boosters and of course, there’s prescription medicines like Metoclopramide (Reglan), Domperidone (Motilium), and sulpiride (Eglonyl, Dolmatil, Sulpitil, Sulparex, Equemote).
9. Make sure latch is right
Obviously, if your baby can’t efficiently drain the breast, you may have problems with supply since the breast isn’t stimulated enough. It can be a simple as correcting a bad latch or addressing any anatomical issues that are preventing a good latch from a baby being tongue tied to inverted nipples. The good news is most of these issues can be corrected and baby and mom can be breastfeed successfully.
10. Switch breasts or double feed
For a sleepy baby that falls asleep before they reach the second breast, stop her a few minutes into nursing and switch her to the other side. By doing so, you have a good shot at keeping her awake to feed more. Keep switching back and forth when you notice her starting to dose off until breats are drained. You can double feed which is to nurse, take a break by burping baby, and then place her back on for another feed at both breasts. By taking the burping break, you are releasing gas bubbles in stomach that allow more room for milk.
Hopefully these tips will give your milk supply a boost and you’ll be back in the swing of things in no time.
If you’re still struggling with supply after a few weeks, I’d highly recommend finding a milk donor rather than using formula. Here’s a great resource for more information: http://milkshare.birthingforlife.com.
For those that are adopting, you can breastfeed! Check out kellymom.com for more information on relactation and adoptive breastfeeding.
How about YOU? Did you struggle with supply? What helped you?