Breast milk- the most important thing in both mother and baby’s life. Breast milk is the milk produced by the mother’s breast and it is full of nutrients. A newborn baby should only be fed with breast milk for the first six months, this helps in baby’s growth and development. Human breast milk keeps the baby away from any infections and disease. It keeps on changing according to the baby’s requirements.
Nothing can replace breast milk, even the scientists cannot make its replica in the labs. Breastfeeding is both essential for baby and mother while breastfeeding a baby and mother connects emotionally and it also helps the mother to recover from the postpartum delivery.
As breast milk is so nutritious and healthy, its supply must be maintained properly. This blog is about how a mother can maintain the breast milk supply and how to increase breast milk.
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Reasons for Low Supply
We know how important breast milk is for the baby and mother. If a mother is noticing less supply of milk, there has to be some reason for it. Let’s be aware of the reasons for low milk supply-
- Emotional factor– Many new moms have different mood swings after the delivery. They are anxious, stressed, and sometimes even embarrassed and these things can interfere with the let-down reflex, which lets the body produce less milk.
- Smoking and alcohol– Many moms start smoking and drinking after the delivery, to relieve the stress and to relax. This can also hinder milk production.
- Medical condition– If the mom has a history of Diabetes, PCOS, and High blood pressure this can lead to less production of milk.
- Bottle preference– Many moms start the bottle feeding to the newborn at an early age. The bottle requires a different kind of sucking than breastfeeding. Once the child is comfortable in the bottle, it gets hard for them to have a proper latch during the breastfeeding, which lessens the milk supply.
- Pacifiers- Pacifiers affect the baby latch to a great extent. They also reduce the time the baby spends on the breasts, which drops the milk supply.
- Scheduled feeding– Many moms have the habit of scheduled feeding due to their routine. And this greatly interferes with the demand and supply of milk and can take months to recover. So, feed your baby whenever she is hungry.
- Using only one breast– Many moms have the habit of using only one breast at a time, because of the comfort. But this affects milk production. Always use both the breasts, but first complete the one breast and then switch to others.
- Short time feeding– Feeding newborn baby for at least 10 minutes is very necessary, if your baby sleeps a lot during feeding, it would be good if you wake him up always to complete the feeding. As this interferes in milk production.
How to increase breast milk production?
After understanding the reasons for low milk supply, let’s understand what helps to increase the milk production-
- Breastfeed more often– Don’t wait for the baby to get hungry and cry before you breastfeed him. Breastfeed him more often and let the baby decide whether he is hungry or not. When your baby sucks the breasts, it gives your body the indication of making more milk.
The more you breastfeed, the more milk the breast produces. The newborn baby should breastfeed 8-12 times a day to maintain the milk supply.
2. Breastfeed from both sides– Many moms does the mistake of breastfeeding only from one side. You should try to use both your breasts while breastfeeding your child. Pumping milk from both sides helps to increase the lactation and result in higher fat content in the milk.
You can also try pumping between the feedings, this also helps to increase the lactation. Before pumping, try to warm your breasts this makes you feel comfortable and makes the pumping easy.
3. Lactation cookies- This is very important and beneficial for increasing the milk supply. You can find many lactation cookies online on Amazon or some even prefer to make it at home.
4. Use breast compression- This is a technique to be used if your newborn does not drink properly or sleeps more often while drinking. This is the way to use when your baby is drinking the milk. It helps the breast milk flowing and your baby keeps drinking it.
5. Stimulate your breasts- After your baby has finished the breastfeeding, use a breast pump or hand technique to stimulate your breasts, this lets your body knows that they need more milk supply.
Some moms prefer hand technique than a breast pump, it is more natural and helps in more milk supply.
6. Breastfeed longer- Your newborn might not be able to latch properly and they leave the feeding early. You should try to make them breastfeed longer at least 10 minutes on each side. If they sleep while drinking the milk wake them up and complete the process. This is beneficial for both baby and mother.
7. Eat a well-balanced diet- This is very important for breastfeeding mothers. We often skip our breakfast and lunch due to workload or tiredness or mood swings. And this directly affects the milk supply. Every breastfeeding mom should try to have a well-balanced diet, they need an extra 500 calories for the milk supply. So have a properly nutritious diet.
8. Stay hydrated- Every individual has a different level of water consumption. But a new mom should try to drink at least eight-ounce glasses of water daily. This will keep her hydrated and also will increase breast milk production.
What foods help to increase breast milk?
Apart from the above methods, foods also help in increasing breast milk. Whatever we eat has a direct impact on your health. Foods which help to increase the breast milk are-
- Barley- Barley helps in increasing the milk supply and also keeps the mother hydrated. It is a component of beer and a great source of beta-glucan. You can add barley to soup, stews, and salad for consumption.
- Fennel seeds– Fennel seeds are also referred to as a mouth freshener in the Indian language. It helps in increasing the milk supply and also reduces gas and colic. You can either directly eat it or soak it in the water overnight and drink the water the next morning.
- Fenugreek seeds– Fenugreek seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, calcium, and iron. They are very important for the brain development of the child and helps in increasing the lactation.
- Bottle Gourd– Many people do not like it, but it is a great source of nutrition. It has high water content, is easy to digest, normalizes blood sugar levels, and also increases the milk supply. You can either cook it as a vegetable or can drink its juice.
- Oats– Oats are very well known for the breast milk makers. They have a high concentration of beta-glucan. They can be easily cooked, you can top it with fruits, muffins, etc.
- Papaya– Papaya is an important part of South Asian cuisine. It is used as a natural sedative. It helps in increasing breastmilk supply and also makes you feel relaxed.
- Garlic- Garlic is a vegetable that comes full of nutritional benefits. It increases our immune system, prevents heart disease, and also makes our skin healthy. It is one rich source in increasing breast milk. Also, it will help to make the taste and smell of breast milk good.
- Green Leafy Vegetables– There is no alternative source for green leafy vegetables. They are rich in iron, calcium, and folate. They help to enhance breast milk and are also a rich source of Vitamins.
- Sesame seeds– We all know how effective and beneficial sesame seeds are for our health. Many people even consume it in the form of Ladoos post-delivery. Sesame seeds are a source of non-dairy calcium and are also a great source for the child’s growth. It even helps the mother to recover fully after delivery.
- Carrots– Carrots are a very beneficial vegetable. They are rich in vitamin A and provides a great boost in the lactation. You can either eat it raw or make the juice of it.
- Brown rice– Instead of white rice, a new mom should include brown rice in her diet post-delivery. They are highly beneficial and also provide immense energy to the mom.
- Apricots– Apricots are one tasty fruit. You can daily consume it in your breakfast. They are filled with calcium and fiber and also helps in stabilizing hormonal imbalance.
- Salmon– Oh! This looks tempting. Salmon are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and essential fatty acids, they help in increasing the breast milk to a great extent. You can try consuming the fresh salmon in different ways like steamed, grilled, and pan-fried.
- Sweet Potato– We all know potato provides immense energy to mother. Similarly, sweet potato is rich in carbohydrates, vitamin C, B- complex, and magnesium. You can cook the sweet potatoes in various different ways for consumption.
- Almonds– Almonds are considered a superfood for nursing mothers. They are rich in Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids. You can either eat almonds raw or can have almond supplements, both the ways will be beneficial for increasing your milk supply.
How breast milk is formed?
Breast milk starts to form when you get pregnant. Pregnancy changes many hormones in our body and one such change which we can notice are the breasts. We feel our breasts are more tender, swelled and the area around the nipples gets darkened all these are the changes pregnant women go through.
The developing placenta in our body makes the release of hormones called estrogen and progesterone, this stimulates the milk production in the body. Women’s breasts have always been ready for the pregnancy change since they were in their mother’s womb.
Pregnancy hormones cause the milk duct to grow in number and size. Milk ducts become fully grown in the second trimester, so even if your baby is born premature, you can still feed him.
How to check your baby is getting enough milk?
According to some researchers, the baby behaves differently which indicates the low milk supply. If your baby is giving you enough wet nappies daily, then low milk supply is not an issue for you. But some of the typical behavior to look after are as follows-
- Wanting to be fed more often. Breast milk takes around 1.5-2 hours to digest.
- Baby becoming cranky even after feeding, as he is unsatisfied.
- Licking to suck.
- Making sucking face again and again.
- Your baby nurses more often and he becomes fussy in the evening
So, these are some of the How to Increase Breast Milk. Try to be patient and enjoy this new motherhood phase, everything will come back in place. Please share your experience with us.