How do I increase my breast milk supply?
Sometimes, despite doing all the “right” things, you may find yourself producing less breast milk than your baby needs. Before you do anything, check with your lactation consultant or pediatrician. They will be able to help you determine if your milk supply is actually a problem. She will also let you know if baby’s weight gain is adequate. If all is well with the baby, but you feel you’re having a hard time “keeping up” with baby, here are some things you can try:
*Go to bed with your baby for a whole day (8 to 24 hours) and breastfeed and sleep. Arrange for help so that you are not getting up for anything but bathroom breaks. Sometimes getting more rest and a day of unrestricted breastfeeding can give your body a much-needed boost.
*Try pumping (double) immediately after feeds for 5 minutes or so. The purpose of this is to tell your breasts you want more milk. If your baby has done a good job at the breast you will probably only be able to pump a few milliliters. It’s ok if you don’t actually pump out any milk.
*Eat well! Now is not the time to try to lose weight. Losing more than 1 pound a week may interfere with breast milk production.
*Try a bowl of oatmeal every morning. Many mothers have found this delicious intervention helpful.
*Try milkmakers lactation cookies! Another delicious intervention that many mothers have found helpful.
*Avoid hormonal birth-control methods. Many of my clients have noticed a reduction in milk supply after using IUD’s and oral contraceptives that use progesterone.
*Discuss low milk supply with a lactation consultant. There are herbs and prescription medications that can help with milk supply but you need professional guidance. There is a possibility of side effects with any medication—even if it’s “natural.”
*Take a nap! You need and deserve at least one nap per day. More if you’re recovering from a C-section. It’s amazing how well your body will respond to just a little more rest.
If your milk supply is truly inadequate for your baby’s needs, be sure to supplement as necessary with human milk or formula. Aside from normal weight loss in the first few days of life, it is never OK for a baby to lose weight. See your health care provider or a lactation consultant for guidance on supplementation.
Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC. Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations. Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com .
Find more information on breastfeeding on our breastfeeding resources page.