In almost every aspect, motherhood is hard. Especially when it comes to breastfeeding. A common question breastfeeding moms have is how to increase milk supply. Whether your baby is strictly breastfeeding or being supplemented with formula, here are some tips and tricks to increasing your milk supply in no time!
The Mechanics Behind Breastfeeding
If you’re a first-time mom, you don’t have to admit that you may be a little freaked about your body suddenly becoming a milk machine. It’s ok; we have all been there. You may be wondering how your body will start creating breast milk (if you plan on feeding a baby this way). Well, it is actually quite simple. When your baby is born, a hormonal reaction will take place in your body that will start your journey of breastfeeding.
Your brain releases a chemical called prolactin that then triggers the nerves in your breasts to begin producing breast milk. Now, it doesn't happen just like that. First, your nipples will release a somewhat thick liquid called colostrum. This liquid is clear with a tinge of yellow and will almost resemble water. Shortly after your baby latches on, you can actually squeeze your nipples a little to release the colostrum.
In terms of how colostrum affect your baby, it is practically liquid gold. Colostrum is the first form of milk that will be produced by your mammary glands. Because your newborn's digestive system is so immature, colostrum helps feed and nourish your baby with vital vitamin nutrients. Your baby will not have to drink a lot of colostrum to get the nutrients because one drop of it is jam-packed with all the good stuff that your baby needs. A couple of days after your baby is born (usually 2 to 3 days), your milk should start coming in. Once your milk comes in, this will be the start of your breastfeeding journey.
Natural Methods To Increase Milk Supply
Although it may seem easy and natural to breastfeed your child, the reality is, it can be quite tricky. Especially if your milk supply starts running low. The good news is, if your milk supply does run low, there are plenty of things you can do to increase it. Try some of these tips, tricks, and proven methods that will help increase milk supply so you can continue on your breastfeeding journey.
1. Nurse As Often As You Can
The really neat thing about breastfeeding is that it is a supply and demand process. What this means is the longer you nurse your baby, the more milk your body will produce to meet this demand. One of the easiest ways to increase your milk supply is by nursing as regularly and as often as you can.
2. Take A Breastfeeding Vacation
For first time moms who often have the luxury of not needing to worry about another child, try taking a breastfeeding vacation. A breastfeeding vacation is one of the best ways to increase milk supply. Simply bring your baby into your bed with you (or the couch if that’s where you prefer to lounge) and nurse. Nurse whenever your baby would like to nurse and whenever your baby is willing to accept the breast.
Don’t feel guilty about spending the whole afternoon, evening, or even day cozied up in bed with your little one nursing. By nursing as often as you can, you are letting your body know that your baby needs more milk, and your body will respond by creating more milk. Not only does a breastfeeding vacation really help to increase milk supply, but this is another way for you to bond with your little one.
3. Your Breast Pump Is Your New Best Friend
If you are able to, find time to pump your breasts. You can use a manual breast pump, or an electric breast pump to increase milk supply. Though a lot of moms do suggest using an electric breast pump as it is a lot more reliable at effective pumping. Before you start pumping however, be sure that you find the right type of breast pump for you. There are a range of breast pumps from different companies such as Medela and Aeroflow. Do your research to find the best fit for you. When you pump your breasts, you are telling your body that it needs to create more breastmilk and because of the supply and demand process of breastfeeding, your body will adhere.
The best time to pump is after your baby has had a good feeding. You may find that you don’t have any milk left to pump after a feeding, but that’s quite all right. Continue pumping even if you only get half an ounce or so. If you are continuing to pump, but are unable to draw any milk, then still pump for an additional five minutes or so. The extra stimulation is what you are aiming for because this will help increase milk supply. Try to pump several times a day. Many moms find it super helpful to pump after their baby’s last nursing for the day as well.
4. Eat Plenty Of Oatmeal
Oatmeal has countless benefits. And lucky for you, one of those benefits is the ability to increase milk supply. You don’t have to pick and choose from any specific oatmeal either. Oatmeal in all its forms is known to increase your milk supply. So have at it with your quick oats, your regular oats, or your steel cut oats. Great ways to consume oatmeal are during breakfast and mid-afternoon snacks. Add a splash of brown sugar and berries, and you can even sneak it in as a dessert.
5. Sneak Brewer's Yeast Into Your Diet
Though it may not sound pleasant, brewer’s yeast is another excellent method to increase milk supply. While it is typically used for making wine and beer, the nutrients in brewer’s yeast make it an ideal breastmilk booster. You can find essential nutrients such as iron, B vitamins, and plenty of protein. These essential nutrients are one of the main reasons brewer’s yeast is found in plenty of lactation cookie recipes.
Another excellent way to increase milk supply without having to think to hard about it is flaxseed. Flaxseed is incredibly versatile and can be incorporated into any meal of the day. The omega content in flaxseed is super beneficial for nursing mothers. Sprinkle some flaxseed on your pancakes in the morning, in your lunch and dinner, and in baked goods such as cookies. You’re likely not to taste it, but the benefits of it are too good to miss out on.
If you ask any lactation consultant or mom for that matter, you are likely to be told that fenugreek is an excellent herbal solution to increase milk supply. For centuries, fenugreek has been known to be a great breast milk supply booster. Its popularity has even lead to equally popular fenugreek pills. Many of these fenugreek pills are marketed specifically for increasing your milk supply. While this natural herb may not work for everyone, it is a great method to try out if you are looking to increase your milk supply.
8. Avoid Pacifiers And Bottles
Instead of using a pacifier to soothe your baby when he or she is crying, put them on your breast instead. Having your little one practice their sucking reflex on your breast instead of a pacifier is a great way to increase milk supply. If you are supplementing with formula, then it is inevitable that you have to use a bottle to feed on occasion. While formula feeding your baby is perfectly okay, you will want to start weaning your baby off the formula and onto your breast in order to increase milk supply. If your baby is using the bottle to get much of his nourishment, then your body gets the signal that your baby does not need as much of your breastmilk. In turn, your body will produce less breast milk. A gradual weaning process should do the trick for you if you are looking to increase milk supply.
9. Lactation Cookies
A breastfeeding mother’s best kept secret for an increase in milk supply is a good stash of lactation cookies. Lactation cookies are jam-packed with vitamins and nutrients that are essential to increase milk supply. Not only that, but lactation cookies are great overall because of their nutritional value for your diet in general. These vitamins and nutrients include flaxseed, oats, brewer’s yeast, and iron. You can find lactation cookies in many health and wellness grocery stores. For the super moms who have time to create their own lactation cookies, click here for a recipe that not only be tasty but will help to increase milk supply.
While this might seem a little strange, lavender has long been used as a method to help increase your milk supply. Lavender in relation to increasing milk supply is more for the nourishment of your soul than it is for your actual tummy. Instead of ingesting the lavender, surround yourself with lavender scented essential oils. Use a lavender diffuser in your room, or sprinkle a couple of drops of lavender oil in your bath. The relaxing scent can help calm and relax you.
When your body is in a state of relaxation, it is more effective at necessary day to day tasks. Relaxing your body and de-stressing allows your cells to recover from the damage done throughout the day. Adding lavender to your routine only helps add to your relaxation. Everything in your body runs a lot smoother when you are calm and relaxed, and this applies to your breastfeeding as well. So kick back, relax, and take deep breaths of your lavender. Your increasing milk supply will thank you.
11. Stay hydrated
One of the best ways to help increase milk supply without doing too much effort is by staying hydrated. Everything in your body needs proper hydration to function at its peak performance. Breastfeeding is no different. When you increase your hydration intake, you will start to notice that your milk production increases. The aim is to try and drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Wherever you go, be sure to bring along a bottle of water with you so that you can stay hydrated all day long.
Just because you encounter breastfeeding issues, does not mean you have to give up. And it especially does not mean you have failed. With these simple natural remedies, you can increase your milk supply and get on with motherhood.