Making the decision to breastfeed your baby is an important one. Studies have shown that not only does breastfeeding increase the bond between mother and child, but it also has certain long-term benefits such as being linked to higher IQ scores and better weight management down the line.
Since breast milk is considered the ideal nutrition for a new baby, it’s easy to see why mothers make the choice to breastfeed. However, what do you do if your breast milk production doesn’t seem to be keeping up with your baby’s feeding demands?
Increasing Your Milk Production
New mothers are often anxious about many things when it comes to their baby, and breast milk production is generally high on their list of worries. Seeing that you’re unable to measure your personal milk production as easily as you can with formula, it’s natural that mom’s want to do all they can to ensure they’re encouraging their milk supply.
Try To Relax
Oftentimes, the stress of a new baby, late night feedings, lack of sleep and the huge change to your lifestyle can result in new mother’s not looking after themselves the way they should. It’s important to find time to unwind. In addition, using time-tested relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, yoga, hot baths and naps can help achieve that.
Watch Your Diet
While you may want to start shifting that baby weight as soon as possible, it’s important not to diet while breastfeeding. A breastfeeding mom needs approximately 1800 calories a day to ensure premium milk production.
Eat a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and carbohydrates, and stay hydrated. If you eat a high quality diet and are breastfeeding, you are actually more likely to lose weight than someone who doesn’t.
Hydrate Your Body
We have heard, on average, you should drink 6 to 8 ounces of water a day to stay hydrated. In fact, mothers should keep a glass of water nearby while baby is at the breast. It is advised that moms should reach for water whenever they feel thirsty and directly after.
This action will help to ensure hydration is being maintained on a regular basis. With that said, sugary drinks and juices should be avoided, as well as caffeine, which has been shown to hinder milk production.
Most women faced with a decrease in milk production may be bombarded with advice to consume beer to remedy the problem. Though it is not advised that lactating women drink alcohol, as it can actually hinder production, it has been proven that the polysaccharide found in the barley used to make beer appears to stimulate to prolactin, which promotes milk production in moms. Fortunately, nonalcoholic beer is available and may serve as a suitable substitute.
For mommies looking for a more natural approach, herbal supplements such as Fenugreek and blessed thistle have been used for years for boosting lactation. However, always consult with your doctor before moving forward with alternative treatments.
It’s a fact that juggling a baby while breastfeeding can be uncomfortable for both you and your little one. Try using a nursing pillow to help keep your baby in a comfortable position. Nursing pillows can also help your baby to latch on to your breast better, thus increasing milk intake. Make sure you’re in a warm and comfortable environment where you won’t have to move around too much. Back support for you is also important.
Try the Switch
Continually using the same breast can not only lead to sore nipples, but it can also slow down milk production. The key is to encourage your baby to nurse for as long as they can, as often as they can. Try to switch your baby to the opposite breast when their sucking begins to slow, otherwise they will become too tired to suck adequate milk after the switch.
Use a Breast Pump
One of the best ways to increase your milk production is by using a breast pump. Try pumping each breast for 5-10 minutes after each nursing session, or try for at least 8 times in 24 hours. It’s also important to use the maximum setting to extract the most milk, unless your nipples are very sore. By using the pump to empty your breasts, your body will react by increasing your milk production.
While breastfeeding is a wonderful thing you can do for your baby for both bonding and nutrition, it’s easy to see how a new mother could feel anxious about keeping her milk production up. By taking good care of yourself and following these simple and natural tips, you’ll be sure to maximize your milk production and keep your baby happy and healthy.