If you have been nursing your newborn and constantly feel that your baby is not getting enough milk, you are not alone. Many nursing mothers worry that the milk produced by their breasts is not enough and that their babies are suffering because of it. This is a common conclusion when babies do no gain weight quickly, when they do not spend much time feeding, if they sleep too much, or if the breasts feel soft and therefore less ‘full’.
Some mothers will also constantly compare their baby’s feeding habits to other babies and come to the conclusion, often erroneously, that their breasts are not producing enough milk as their baby feeds less than other babies. All babies are different. Even your own first baby will be different from your second or third. They all grow at their own pace and have their own temperament which will determine how much they sleep or eat. So do not let this influence your reasoning. However, some moms do have milk production problems but those are easily remedied with the following tips.
Increase Feeding Frequency
How To Increase Breast Milk
The more your feed your baby, the more milk your body will produce. The body is a highly effective machine and only does as much as is needed. It will only produce as much milk as your baby needs. And it comes to this information depending on how often you feed your baby. Now if you think your breasts are not producing enough milk, you need to send the body new information. Feed your baby more. The suckling action will signal to the body to naturally produce more milk. This is the simplest way to increase breast milk and most mothers do not have to resort to any other method apart from this.
Feed From Both Breasts
Make it a point to breastfeed from both breasts every time. But do not force it. Instead, allow your baby to decide when it’s time for you to move her to the other breast, i.e., when she stops suckling or pulls away. That brings us to the next tip.
Let Your Baby Decide…
…when she wants to feed, when she wants to stop. Rather than deciding ‘OK, I’m going to feed her every two hours, let her tell you when she is hungry. When feeding, let her nurse for as long as she wants and only stop when she does.
Trick a Sleepy Baby into Staying Awake for Longer Feedings
Some babies sleep more than others and this can sometimes make mothers feel that their babies are not getting enough milk. Since the babies do sleep more, there is obviously less feeding and the body does then indeed produce less milk. While you cannot force your baby to feed more often, you can try to keep her awake through a feeding by switching breasts a few times during each sitting so that she has no choice but to be alert. This often leads to more feeding and, in turn, more milk production.
Breast Pump Milk after Feedings
After your baby has had enough, use a breast pump on both your breasts for about ten minutes, less if you do not have much time. The action of the breast pump will stimulate your body in the same way that your baby’s suckling does which will lead to increased milk production.
Ban that Pacifier
Babies love to suckle. It brings them comfort. Plus, they associate suckling with the body contact, love and warmth of a mother. This led to the invention of pacifiers which are often popped into a baby’s mouth to prevent unnecessary feeding. However, this can lead to lower milk production too since your baby will be feeding less. If you are worried about low breast milk production, then offer your breast every time your baby cries.
Foods to Increase Breast Milk
- One of the safest, natural foods that increases breast milk supply is fenugreek. You can take it in capsule form or try herbal teas with fenugreek infused in them. Having a lot of fenugreek in your diet will result in giving your breast milk a sweetish smell, but it does not have any other side effects. However, do not take fenugreek supplements until you have consulted a doctor as they can cause side-effects in women suffering from certain health conditions like asthma and diabetes.
- Although no scientific evidence exists, oatmeal has long been touted as contributing to an increase in breast milk. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. Since oatmeal is a very healthy food, there’s really no harm in just trying it out.
- Mother’s milk tea is a special herbal tea which promotes better milk production.
- Seeds of cumin, black sesame and dill can help. Several Indian dishes call for these ingredients in their recipes so you may want to look in that direction for ideas on how to include them in your diet.
- Green vegetables are also thought to increase breast milk.
- There are several benefits of garlic, a little-known one being that it helps improve lactation.
- Certain nuts like almonds contain good fats, have high nutritional value and are recommended for nursing mothers to increase breast milk.
- You will hear that beer can increase milk production too. This is indeed true. However, babies aren’t too fond of alcohol-produced milk. So your baby will not drink as much, which will signal your body to lower milk production.
Increase Your Calorie Intake In General
Once you have a baby, losing weight becomes one of your main concerns. Since most mothers do not have time to exercise, they resort to cutting down on calories, sometimes by too much. Your body needs about 500 calories just to breastfeed. So if you cut calories too drastically, the body will put those 500 calories into sustaining your body, which will in turn affect milk production. While it is OK to cut calories to an extent, going on a crash diet is not the answer. See a nutritionist to figure out how much more or less you should eat to lose weight and ensure ample breast milk. Rest assured that it does not have to be one or the other, it can indeed be both.
Also Increase Fluid Intake
Your body needs a healthy fluid intake to ensure proper milk production. A lot of new mothers are so busy that they forget to hydrate sufficiently. This can have an effect on the amount of milk made by the breasts. The idea here is not that fluids will increase breast milk but that they will keep you healthy and thus allow your body to do its job better. If we all drank enough water in the first place (which most of us don’t) this advice would be redundant.
Take Care of Yourself
When you’re a mother, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. As you’ve probably gleaned from the information so far your overall health plays a big role in milk production. So eat well, sleep well, don’t smoke, limit or stop alcohol and caffeine intake, find time for yourself, and lower your stress in any way you can.