Nearly every new mother wonders if she is producing enough milk for her baby. The good news is there are many safe, natural and effective ways to increase your milk production. Try these simple methods to give your supply a jump start.
Supply and Demand
It’s a simple formula: the more you nurse, the more milk you make. Nurse your baby whenever she is hungry, and empty one breast before switching to the other. It also helps to have your baby nurse rather than using a pump, at least for the first few weeks. Your baby more efficiently empties your breast, so hold off on pumping for a while if you can.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Milk supply is one of the (many) worries on the minds of new moms. Is my baby getting enough? Am I making enough? But, stressing over your supply is actually counterproductive. The let-down reflex, which releases milk into the milk ducts, is encumbered by stress. So, take a deep breath and find comfort in knowing that as long as your baby is alert, active, and producing wet diapers, your supply is just fine.
Catch Some ZZZ’s
Sleep can seem like a long lost friend in the first couple of weeks with a newborn. But, for the sake of your milk supply (and your sanity), make it a priority to sleep and rest as much as possible. Enlist the help of your partner, family, and trusted friends to take care of the day-to-day responsibilities like laundry and cooking meals. Loved ones are usually eager to help after baby comes home, so let them!
Ask the Experts
If you feel unsure about anything, ask other moms who breastfed or are still breastfeeding. They have been in the same boat, and they understand. Ask them what worked for them. Maybe there is a certain position their baby preferred to be in while nursing. Or they found expelling some milk by hand first encouraged a better latch.
Lay Off the Booze
Alcohol inhibits milk production, so resist the temptation to relax with a glass of wine. There is an old wives’ tale that beer helps increase milk supply, but scientific studies have proved that one to be false. Besides the fact it will not help you make more milk, alcohol is harmful to your nursing baby. Your little one is only a baby for a short while. There will be plenty of time after she is done nursing to pop a top again.
Bring On the H2O
It’s important to stay hydrated while breastfeeding. Your body will make less milk if you aren’t drinking enough water. Keep your glass refilled and take water with you wherever you go. If you aren’t a big fan of plain water, try a fruit infuser water bottle to add a little flavor. Eating water-dense fruits and vegetables is another great way to increase your water intake.
Feed the Need
Your body needs fuel to produce milk. Now is not the time to go on a crash diet in an attempt to lose some baby weight. In fact, if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you will need 300 to 500 more calories per day than you needed to maintain your pre-pregnancy weight. Nursing moms require a well-balanced diet rich in healthy foods like whole grains, fruits and veggies.
Time for a Massage
Did you know massaging your breasts can increase the volume and fat content of your milk? While your baby is nursing more for comfort rather than drinking, massage your breast near your chest at first, then closer toward the nipple. Wait for her to take a couple of swallows and then massage another area of the same breast. Wait again for more swallows, then repeat.