Authored by Donna Johnson in Pregnancy
Published on 09-20-2009
Breastfeeding is a wonderful, healthy choice for any new mom to make. Your baby will be getting the perfect food for his needs and an immunity boost from you as well. But many things can affect your breast milk supply. If your supply seems to be dropping, don’t panic – there are lots of things you can do to increase breast milk supply.
The most important thing you can do to increase breast milk supply is to nurse on demand – that is, whenever your baby is hungry, no matter how often that may be. This may seem like it would actually decrease your supply, but your body’s response to increased nursing is increased production. Be sure to alternate breasts at feedings so that your breast milk supply will increase in each breast, and so your baby gets the richer hind milk. Allow your baby to tell you when feeding time is over – never stop him from nursing yourself. Make sure that your baby has a proper latch on your breast, as this will make him a more efficient nurser and will increase your milk supply.
You should also consider adding pumping to your day. Pumping breast milk simulates increased demand and stimulates an increase in milk supply. Electric pumps generally are the most efficient for this purpose, and can be rented if it’s not in your budget to buy one. You can also find hand-operated pumps. Pumping breast milk can not only increase your supply, but it can also help to maintain your supply if your baby experiences a “nursing strike” or a period of refusing to nurse due to illness or other causes. You can freeze the pumped breast milk to allow your significant other or a family member to bottle feed your baby or to keep on hand in case you cannot nurse for a period of time due to an emergency such as illness or need to take certain medications.
Your diet will play a big part in how much breast milk you produce. You should drink a minimum of 64 ounces of water a day just to meet your body’s basic needs. If you are not getting at least this much water daily, your breast milk supply may drop. Additional water above this amount can help to boost your supply. If your doctor approves it, you may use an herb such as fenugreek to help increase your milk production. Fenugreek is available in capsule form. Certain herbal teas are marketed specifically to increase milk supply, and can also be used if your doctor approves. Many women swear by oatmeal as the best milk booster. If you don’t like oatmeal, you can also try baking it into cookies or making no-bake oatmeal cookies.
If at any time you feel that your milk production is insufficient or is dropping, don’t panic. Stress can further decrease your milk supply. A lactation consultant can give a lot of assistance in anything having to do with breastfeeding, including increasing your breast milk supply. Your doctor can also offer advice on boosting your milk supply or even prescribe medication to help if all else fails. With their help and a little work and patience on your part, you can easily increase your breast milk supply and keep both yourself and your baby happy and healthy.