Breastfeeding Best Practices: How to Increase Your Milk Supply Naturally
During the early days of being a parent, making sure your baby has enough milk is one of the most important aspects of being a good parent. With that in mind, the issue of having a low milk supply can be incredibly frustrating for newly-minted moms. However, you shouldn’t worry; this is something that can happen for a host of different reasons, and it’s not your fault. Plus, through enough research and work, you can naturally increase your milk supply and keep your baby fed all the time! Take a look at some of the tips on this we’ve prepared below!
Who To Contact
If you’re worried about the levels of your milk supply, you should know there all kinds of therapy and help that you can use to get through this. If you ask us, talking to a breastfeeding counselor who’s fully trained and licensed will help, or going to a lactation consultant that’s been certified by the board.
Especially if you notice your baby losing weight or not gaining it at the appropriate rate; you need to remain in constant contact with the baby’s doctor, seeing as there’s a chance that a specific medical condition has been causing such an issue.
If your physician recommends it, some supplementation may be needed in order for the baby not to lose any weight until you regulate your milk supply completely. And if that’s the case, the very best supplement would your own milk that you’ve pumped yourself.
Understanding Milk Supply
Just like the production of anything else - your own milk depends on supply and demand. And if you want to increase the amount of milk you can put out for your baby, you need to fully understand how it gets made; making sure you do only the proper things in order to increase the pace of production. If you want to be certain that you’re doing all you can, being a loving mother who co-shares her bed with her child is not enough; you need to do all of the proper research.
The gist of increasing milk production is this - you need to make sure you’re removing as much milk from your breasts and as frequently as possible; that way, the accumulation of milk in your breast will be kept to a minimum between different feedings.
So, you need to be certain that you’re nursing the baby as effectively as you can. If you’re not effectively removing milk from the breast, the supply will go down as well. With that in mind, pay attention to whether the latch and positioning are correct, so that the baby is able to transfer all of the required milk without issues.
There are all kinds of situations and factors that could interfere with this; if your baby is sleepy, obviously it won’t eat as much. Also, any anatomical or health problems that the baby has could also interfere with its milk transfer in a big way. Considering the supply and demand issue we’ve talked about, bear in mind that you need to nurse on an extremely regular basis.
Remember - if you wish to produce more milk, you need to remove the existing milk from your breasts more frequently as well. If you notice that your baby isn’t gaining enough weight, try to nurse it every couple of hours each day, and frequently during the night as well. In fact, you and your baby might need a nursing vacation; take a couple of days off from doing anything else, and just nurse the baby in your bed.
When your baby is feeding at your breast, make sure you offer it both sides. Once the baby is done with one side, make sure you give them the other one as well. And you want to do this if the baby seems to lose interest while sucking, or even falls asleep. There are breast compression techniques that will keep your baby sucking longer, which can be quite helpful when it comes to distractible or sleepy babies.
Apart from this, we also don’t recommend using bottles or pacifiers if your baby is not getting enough milk in the first place. If you want to increase your milk supply as naturally as possible, we recommend you make sure that the baby meets all of its milk needs right at your breast. And if some sort of temporary supplement is dictated by medical needs, you can use a nursing supplement, dropper, cup, or spoon.
Also, don’t give anything but breastmilk to your baby if you want to regulate milk levels. Do away with formula or solids if your baby isn’t older than half a year yet, and if it is, think about decreasing solids. If you’re already using formula while reading this, think about weaning the baby off such supplements in a gradual way, so your breasts have the ‘incentive’ to create more milk.
At the end of the day, you need to remember that you need to take care of yourself as well. If you don’t get enough sleep, or you’re stressed out; your milk levels will definitely be lower, and your baby will feel your anxiety as well. So, drink as many liquids as you feel you need, and eat a well-balanced range of food.
Pumping is also something to consider; this can be quite helpful in the cases where your baby doesn’t get nursed frequently or efficiently enough. A good pumping regimen may speed everything up in this regard. And remember - the sole reason for the pumping is to get more milk out of your breasts so that they start producing more as well. If you think you need more assistance with your milk supply, think about using a galactagogue. This is a type of medication or herb that’s meant to increase your milk levels. Though, consult your physician first and get a prescription.