How to increase breast milk supply? If you’re breastfeeding your baby and you’re in desperate need to increase your breast milk supply, there are some helpful tips that you can follow to increase your breast milk supply.
But what is breast milk anyway?
Well, Wikipedia states that breast milk is the milk produced by the breasts (or mammary glands) of a human female to feed a child.
Milk is the primary source of nutrition for newborns before they are able to eat and digest other foods; older infants and toddlers may continue to be breastfed, in combination with other foods from six months of age when solid foods should be introduced.
A mother is considered to have low milk supply if she produces less breast milk than her infant requires. The term is used only after a mother’s milk “comes in”, which usually occurs around 30–40 hours after delivery of a full-term infant.
Low milk supply is distinct from the scenario in which the mother’s milk comes in later than normal but is thereafter produced in sufficient quantities; this is known as delayed onset of lactation.
Low milk supply, also known as lactation insufficiency, insufficient milk syndrome, agalactia, agalactorrhea, hypogalactia or hypogalactorrhea, and is the production of breast milk in daily volumes that do not fully meet the nutritional needs of her infant. More on the topic how to increase breast milk supply, bellow.
Things can cause or contribute to a low milk supply:
Supplementing. Nursing is a supply & demand process. Milk is produced as your baby nurses, and the amount that she nurses lets your body know how much milk is required. Every bottle (of formula, juice or water) that your baby gets means that your body gets the signal to produce that much less milk.
Sleepy baby. For the first few weeks, some babies are very sleepy and only ask to nurse infrequently and for short periods. Until baby wakes up and begins to breastfeed well, nurse baby at least every two hours during the day and at least every 4 hours at night to establish your milk supply.
Cutting short the length of nursings. Stopping a feeding before your baby ends the feeding herself can interfere with the supply-demand cycle. Also, your milk increases in fat content later into a feeding, which helps baby gain weight and last longer between feedings.
Bottle preference. A bottle requires a different type of sucking than nursing, and it is easier for your baby to extract milk from a bottle. As a result, giving a bottle can either cause your baby to have problems sucking properly at the breast, or can result in baby preferring the constant faster flow of the bottle.
Pacifiers. Pacifiers can affect baby’s latch. They can also significantly reduce the amount of time your baby spends at the breast, which may cause your milk supply to drop.
Mom’s health (uncontrolled anemia or hypothyroidism, retained placenta, postpartum hemorrhage…), previous breast surgery/injury, hormonal problems (e.g. PCOS), anatomical problems, and medications she is taking or smoking also have the potential to affect milk supply.
Foods that help with increasing your milk supply:
Barley is the richest dietary source of beta-glucan, a polysaccharide that has been shown to increase prolactin [known as the breastfeeding hormone] levels in both humans and animals.
How to use it: Add whole barley to soups, stews, salads and even risotto. Use barley flakes to make milk, or add it to your homemade bread recipe.
2. Fennel + fenugreek seeds
Fennel is the vegetable with the white, sweet, licorice-flavoured bulb and thin green fronds. Both the plant and its seed, fenugreek, contain phytoestrogens. Clinical studies have tried to identify the exact dosage that exerts therapeutic effects as well as the mechanism by which this herb works to increase milk production, but the evidence is still inconclusive.
How to use it: Go for the whole food! Fennel is delicious raw, tossed simply with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It also pairs well with refreshing grapefruit, orange and mint. Its licorice flavor mellows when cooked—it’s really good with roast chicken and fish.
Oats are likely the most well-known breast milk makers. After barley of course.
How to use them: Swap in whole wheat flour where you can—in breads, pancakes and muffins—and opt for brown rice anywhere you would use white.
4. Brewer’s yeast
High in B vitamins, iron, protein, chromium and selenium, brewer’s yeast is routinely used as a nutritional supplement. But unlike beer-related barley and malt, brewer’s yeast has not yet been studied as a lactogenic food, Simpson writes. Nevertheless, it is commonly recommended as a breast milk booster and is often found in trendy lactation snacks. One caveat: As brewer’s yeast is super bitter and passes readily into breast milk, it may cause gas and fussiness in some infants.
How to use it: Small amounts can be used in baked goods; in her book, Simpson offers a pancake recipe with ¼ cup of brewer’s yeast.
Increasing your milk supply
How to Increase breast milk supply? Milk production is a demand & supply process. If you need to increase milk supply, it’s important to understand how milk is made – understanding this will help you to do the right things to increase production.
To speed milk production and increase overall milk supply, the key is to remove more milk from the breast and to do this frequently, so that less milk accumulates in the breast between feedings.
Things that can help increase your milk supply:
How To Increase Breast Milk Supply? If positioning and latch are “off” then baby is probably not transferring milk efficiently. A sleepy baby, use of nipple shields or various health or anatomical problems in baby can also interfere with baby’s ability to transfer milk.
Nurse frequently, and for as long as your baby is actively nursing. Remember – you want to remove more milk from the breasts and do this frequently. If baby is having weight gain problems, aim to nurse at least every 1.5-2 hours during the day and at least every 3 hours at night.
How to increase breast milk supply? Switch sides 3 or more times during each feeding, every time that baby falls asleep, switches to “comfort” sucking, or loses interest. Use each side at least twice per feeding. Use breast compression to keep baby feeding longer.
Avoid pacifiers and bottles when possible. All of baby’s sucking needs should be met at the breast. If a temporary supplement is medically required, it can be given with a nursing supplementer or by spoon, cup or dropper.
How to increase breast milk supply? Give baby only breastmilk. Avoid all solids, water, and formula if baby is younger than six months, and consider decreasing solids if baby is older. If you are using more than a few ounces of formula per day, wean from the supplements gradually to “challenge” your breasts to produce more milk.
Take care of mom. Rest. Sleep when baby sleeps. Relax. Drink liquids to thirst (don’t force liquids – drinking extra water does not increase supply), and eat a reasonably well-balanced diet.
How to increase breast milk supply? Consider pumping. Adding pumping sessions after or between nursing sessions can be very helpful – pumping is very important when baby is not nursing efficiently or frequently enough, and can speed things up in all situations.
Your aim in pumping is to remove more milk from the breasts and/or to increase the frequency of breast emptying. When pumping to increase milk supply, to ensure that the pump removes an optimum amount of milk from the breast, keep pumping for 2-5 minutes after the last drops of milk. However, adding even a short pumping session (increasing frequency but perhaps not removing milk thoroughly) is helpful.
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