Many breastfeeding women want to know how to increase breast milk supply at some point during their breastfeeding journey.
- Nurse, Nurse, Nurse
Breasts work on demand. The more your little one nurses, the more breast milk your body will create. When your little one is going through a growth spurt, it’s easy to fall into thinking, “my baby is so hungry I must not have enough milk.” What’s really happening is your baby is priming your body to have enough milk to support how big your baby will be after the spurt.
The worst thing for your supply is to supplement with formula during a growth spurt. It can be hard to devote most of your day to nursing, but it’s the best thing for your baby, and your supply.
- Pump After Nursing
If you’re going to be heading back to work, establishing a pumping routine early will make for a smoother transition, and will also help you build a larger stash. Even if you’re going to be a stay-at-home mom, pumping after nursing will help boost your production and give you some milk to have on hand if you want to take a nap or go out for a quick breather.
- Check the Latch
If your baby is latched on properly her tongue will stick out over her gums and her lips will be flared open, and your nipple and areola will be in her mouth. If nursing doesn’t hurt that’s a good tip that her latch is good, but it never hurts to check.
If your baby’s latch isn’t good, pop her off by slipping your pinky into her mouth next to your nipple and breaking the seal. Use your nipple to “tickle” her mouth until she opens up wide, and insert your breast up to your areola. Repeat until you have a good latch. Without a proper latch it’s impossible for baby to entirely drain your breast.
- Switch Sides
Make sure baby nurses from both breasts during each nursing session. Every time that your baby starts comfort sucking, loses interest, or starts falling asleep, take that as a cue to switch sides. This stimulates both breasts to make more milk and helps to ensure your baby is fully emptying each breast.
- Lose the Binky
Any time that your baby spends sucking on a pacifier is time lost on stimulating your milk production. The early months can be difficult when it seems like your baby has become permanently attached to you, but it’s the best thing for your baby, and your supply.
- Check in with a Lactation Consultant
Despite your best efforts, there’s always a chance that something isn’t quite right. A lactation consultant specializes in helping mums to establish a nursing relationship and in troubleshooting issues. While not all medical professionals rely heavily on introducing formula to difficult cases, many, many do. As long as your newborn isn’t losing weight or failing to thrive, a lactation consultant is your best friend. (Find a La Leche League consultant here.)
- Wear the Right Bra
Wearing a bra that compresses your breasts or that is too tight around the band can cause issues with breast milk flow. The wrong bra can sometimes lead to plugged ducts, which are uncomfortable and also mean that no milk is coming from that part of your breast.
- Eat Oatmeal
Oats are a milk-making miracle food. While it has yet to be proven exactly what about oats causes a spike in milk production, it’s a fact for many women that a bowl of oats in the morning means full breasts at night. If you don’t like oatmeal you can still get the same benefit from granola, oatmeal cookies, or a nice oatmeal-banana muffin.
- Avoid Hormonal Birth Control
If you don’t need to go on the pill, don’t. Condoms and hormone-free IUDs are good options for nursing moms. The hormones in most birth control pills will have a negative effect on your breast milk supply. If you absolutely must be on oral birth control, talk to your OB about the “mini-pill” or other nursing-friendly pills.
- Go on Vacation
A nursing vacation, that is. When all else fails, spend the weekend in bed with your baby. If you have no interruptions and leave the rest of the world to itself, those hours of nursing will boost your supply like nothing else. Don’t be afraid to ask your family and friends to take care of things around the house for a day or two—you’re doing the most important thing you can—enjoy it.
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