Concerns around milk supply are something most new families experience at some stage in the first few weeks of life.
We’re trusting something we can’t really see and just hoping it all turns out okay!
One of the best pieces of advice new parents can receive is:
“Trust your body is going to do what it’s designed to do”
This is one of those sweeping statements that is much easier said than done – like a lot of things related to pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
The best way to have the confidence to trust is know how to spot when things might not be working.
- Is you baby gaining weight?
- Is your baby having age appropriate amounts of wet and dirty diapers?
- Is baby settled in between feeds?
- Do your breasts feel different with less leakage?
All of the above can be completely normal and just part of a change in your babies needs (growth spurts etc). They can however be good indicators to keep a close eye on things.
If you are unsure or problems are ongoing seek help from a healthcare professional.
If you’re certain some supply issues are happening here are some tips that can start to make a difference.
1. Feed more frequently
This is the single most effective way to boost milk production. Throughout the duration of breastfeeding the body works on a supply and demand basis. Increase the demand, increase the supply.
Often during a growth spurt your baby will instinctually become a lot more interested in the breast and wake for more regular feeds. Just 24/48 hours of increased feeding can make the additional milk your baby needs.
2. Do as much at the breast as possible
Avoid excessive use of pacifiers and do as much skin to skin as possible. Comfort nursing and skin to skin also trigger the hormonal responses in our body that boost supply.
Frequent skin to skin/ wearing your baby also encourage the baby to feed more frequently. If the breast is close by, chances are your baby will find it!
3. Make pumping easier
The best pump for your breast is your baby but in reality over half of mom’s pump for at least some feeds per day. This is sensible and allows you to get a little bit of stock built up in the freezer.
If you are pumping either rent a hospital grade machine or buy the best you can afford. As pumping can be time consuming you don’t want to spend unnecessary time on it and having good equipment helps.
4. Compress your breasts
Compressing the breast whilst feeding or pumping encourages any lumps, bumps or plugged ducts to empty. The emptier the breast, the more our brain will tell our breasts make for the next feed.
Frequent complete emptying of the breasts can only mean 1 thing, increased supply!
5. Eat appropriately
Many cultures have specific diets for women who are lactating, our needs are different and so our diet should change accordingly. Recommendations include:
- Eat enough – seems obvious but new babies take up a lot of our time, be sure to get the calories you need to sustain both you and baby.
- Lactation cookies made with brewers yeast
- Add lactogenic spices to meals such as dill, coriander, fennel, caraway
- Take probiotic supplements or eat probiotic yogurt
6. Consider a herbal Galactogogue
A galactagogue is a herb which specifically increases breastmilk supply. Fenugreek is the most common and widely used often yielding impressive results.
Before commencing any galactagogues it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional. Even herbal supplements can have some side effects.
7. Trust your instincts + get help early
Not sure? Something just doesn’t feel right? Get help sooner rather than later. Attend a support group, call a help line or book an appointment with a Lactation Consultant.
Some things are really easy to fix and you might only need to make minor adjustments.
Seeking the help or support you need is truly the most effective way to successfully breastfeed! Please get in touch with me if you think you need support.
My name is Marie I’m a midwife (CPM) and board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) living in Phoenix, Arizona! You can read more about me here. If you’re a new mom, soon to be new mom or know someone who could benefit from some friendly help or advice please see my services or send them my article about getting the most out of your lactation consultant!