When you first start breastfeeding your baby, you may be much worried about many things. One of these things is whether your child is getting enough breast milk or how to increase breast milk. Sometimes, there are false alarms, such as a baby who is nursed for a shorter period of time than you expect, or a growing natural appetite. However, if your baby isn’t gaining weight, then it is time to turn to increasing your breast milk.
Is Your Breast Milk Supply Really Insufficient?
Before you panic about how much breast milk you are producing, keep in mind that you may have unrealistic expectations. You may think that your baby needs more milk simply because he or she is not sleeping through the night yet, or the baby is not be fed on a regular schedule. The fact is that your baby may simply be having a few bad days, or may be fussy or cranky. It doesn’t mean you are producing too little breast milk.
To make sure your baby is getting enough breast milk, keep track of how much weight your little one gained. Some newborns may lose a bit of weight at first, but they should pick up quickly after the first few days. If your baby has started to gain weight between five and seven days after birth, you probably produce enough milk. But if your baby stays in the same weight or loses a bit, you may need to increase your breast milk production.
How to Increase Breast Milk
Remember that milk production is a matter of supply and demand. The more your baby wants and suckles, the more you are likely to produce. Your body will be in a condition to keep up with your baby’s needs.
1. Feed the Baby Correctly
Feed your baby correctly matters a lot for the process of breastfeeding. The baby can stimulate the production of your breast milk when the baby is fed efficiently. Sometimes, your baby may nurse and nurse but barely get anything from your breasts. Then you have to make sure that your baby is latching on properly, and hold it tightly to your breast. The baby needs to latch on well for the letdown of milk. Work with a lactation consultant to make sure the baby is latching on correctly, and pump between feedings to supplement milk in bottles if your baby isn’t latching in the way he should.
2. Switch Sides When Nursing
When your baby begins to lose interest or fall asleep, wake him up for more breastfeeding by switching sides. Try switching sides at least once during your breastfeeding, or more frequent if you can. You can also compress your breast to a longer feeding. Offering both sides of your breasts during the feeding can also assist to keep the milk production equal on both sides, which makes it much easier for you when to pump.
3. Try Pumping
Speaking of pumping, don’t be afraid to do this! To increase your milk supply, start pumping between feedings. This helps your body to create even more milk.The excess milk in your breasts signals your body to produce less milk until the excess milk is used up. When you pump between feedings, you are emptying the breasts fully. Keeping the milk production going strong by pumping and storing the milk in a fridge or freezer, whichcan be used when you need a break from the breast feeding or your partner wants to feed the baby. You can pump up to five minutes.
4. Try Herbs to Increase Your Milk Supply
Some herbs and foods are known to help increase breast milk supply. These are not just old wives’ tales – they are backed up by serious research. So try out these additions to your diet:
- Fenugreek seeds. These seeds have been used for centuries to increase breast milk, and science has shown that they really do work. Besides ramping up milk production, fenugreek seeds contain iron, calcium, vitamins and minerals – all things your baby needs to get from your breast milk. The best form to apply this is fenugreek tea.
- Fennel seeds. Fennel can not only help increase milk production, but also ease colic in your baby. Fennel seeds aid digestion and freshen your breath, which is likely to take effect for your baby, too. Be generous with the seeds on foods, especially veggies, and drinking fennel tea.
- Garlic. Garlic increases breast milk supply, along with its appealing smell in your breast milk for babies, which assists to a longer period of breastfeeding time – a good thing to happen when you are trying to figure out how to increase breast milk! Garlic milk is a popular drink given to nursing moms – just have a try and see what will happen.
Though all of these things can help you produce more milk, remember that no spices, herbs, drinks or foods can substitute for more frequent nursing. Nursing often and pumping in between is the only sure way to help increase the production.
5. Seek Help from Professionals
Breastfeeding isn’t a natural thing for some mothers. It can be tough to learn how to do it right, and sometimes you just need help from a professional who is experienced with breastfeeding and teaching others how to do it. Contacting your local La Leche League can get you in touch with the professionals. Support from this group and the other mothers in it can help you figure things out much faster than on your own.
6. More Options for How to Increase Breast Milk
Still looking for great ways to increase breast milk production? These are some tried-and-truth methods:
- Nurse the baby frequently
Offer the breasts as often as possible. The goal is to produce more milk through every time your child suckling. You can also take a “nursing vacation”, in which you go to bed with the baby for two or three days and nurse almost continuously. This will often increase milk production enough without turning to supplements.
- Think twice on using pacifiers bottles
Speaking of supplements, try to avoid them if at all possible. Using pacifiers and bottles can lead to nipple confusion, which makes it tough for the baby to latch onto you. When you want to give your baby more breast milk (what you have expressed while pumping), use a small spoon, a dropper, or other device approved by your doctor or lactation consultant.
- Feed the baby only with your breast milk
When you give your baby only breast milk, they will acquire a taste for it, and will not like the formula or other options. Your baby can be exclusively fed with breast milk for the first six months, and can be fed mostly breast milk after that. Be sure to follow your doctor’s guidelines as to when to give your baby more than just your milk.
- Keep yourself in healthy conditions
The more rest you get, the more your body will respond with increasing breast milk. So have a rest when the baby does. Eat a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water when you are thirsty – but don’t load up on water, because more water doesn’t actually increase breast milk supply. Relax as much as you can to help your milk 'let down' when it is time to feed.
Here are more natural and easy ways for how to increase breast milk production: