Tons of moms have difficulties with breastfeeding their newborn. If you're feeling down or alone, know that there are other moms sharing similar struggles!
Let's take a look at some ways you can increase milk supply to offer your baby everything they need.
Milk Does a Body Good
Worried your baby may not be getting enough milk? That's okay. It's perfectly natural to want to make sure your baby is happy and healthy.
Here are some signs your baby is getting an adequate amount of milk and nutrients:
- Your breasts are softer after feeding your baby
- Your baby falls asleep happy and content
- Your baby's urine is light or clear yellow
- Your baby's poop is frequent and consistent
- Your baby takes short naps after feeding and is alert when awake
From the time your baby is born, they will on average consume about 2 to 3 ounces of milk each feeding. By the end of their first month, they will usually advance to 4 ounces to continue growing strong.
To calculate a rough estimate of how much milk your baby needs, follow this guideline: take your baby's weight, and multiply it by two and a half. For example, a ten-pound baby will need about 25 ounces of milk every day.
When you first begin breastfeeding, your baby will feed about every 2 to 3 hours spread out throughout the day. You can expect up to 8 to 12 feeding sessions each day. For new moms and babies, these sessions can last anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes.
As your baby gets bigger and your body becomes more accustomed to feeding sessions, you'll notice a change in your feeding routine. Your baby's stomach will grow, allowing them to consume more each session, which means you can expect fewer feedings throughout the day. Also, your baby will develop their suckling muscles, needing only about 10 minutes each feeding session.
Tips to Increase Milk Supply
If you're concerned you may not be producing enough milk for your baby, follow these tips. They're sure to stimulate your body to produce a healthy supply of milk for your child.
Pumping is a great method to acclimate your body to a routine feeding schedule.
Even if your child isn't up for a meal or needs a supplemental bottle of formula, your body still needs to keep up production! Keep pumping to expel any milk that's currently stored so your body knows to make more breastmilk.
A technique that's highly recommended to increase milk supply production is with the power pumping method. For only an hour each day, you can see great improvements in milk supply. Begin with a 20-minute session of pumping, then 10 minutes of rest. Pump for 10 more minutes, rest another 10, and then finish off with a final 10 minutes of pumping.
There are certain foods you can eat and build into your diet, too, that can help increase milk supply. Let's check them out!
Water: breastmilk is 87% water. To keep up a healthy supply, you need to stay properly hydrated with water. If it helps, have an 8-ounce glass of water every time you feed your baby.
Oatmeal: whether you enjoy quick oats, steel-cut oats, or regular oatmeal, it's good to have in your diet to improve breastmilk production. Cultures all over the world understand the natural benefits of oatmeal. Some even soak their oats in water, strain it, and then enjoy this beverage to increase milk supply.
Flaxseed: these seeds are rich in omega content, which your body converts into digestible fats for your baby. You can ingest it as an oil, or sprinkle the seeds on top of your morning cereal or salads!
Brewer’s Yeast: this yeast contains a ton of iron, protein, and B vitamins that are all key components in breastmilk production. Brewer's yeast comes in powder form, so you'll want to sneak some into your next baking session!
Barley: it's often said that a beer a day will improve breastmilk production, but this is not true. However, barley itself is a rich source of beta-glucan, a compound that increases the hormones in your body that regulate milk production.
Papaya: a recent discovery to Western cultures, the papaya fruit has been a staple of Asian mothers for centuries. Enjoy it raw or blended into smoothies or soups!
Herbs and Teas
Herbal remedies have been used in medicinal treatments throughout history. There are several herbs considered to be super-effective at increasing milk production.
The herbs that most moms find useful are:
- Blessed Thistle
- Oat Straw
Often, mothers find it's great to enjoy these herbal remedies as a nice cup of tea!
Please note that it's important to consult your doctor before taking any herbal supplements for breast milk supply. Take as needed, and stop when you feel you're up to adequate production levels.
There are many who find essential oils to be quite effective natural remedies. From stress to appetite, there's an oil for everything— including increasing breast milk production.
Lavender oil is popular for its relaxing, sleep-inducing scent. You might consider diffusing some lavender oil during feeding sessions to create a calming atmosphere.
Commonly found in lactation teas and herbal supplements, fennel is great as a means of increasing milk production and also comes as an essential oil. Use this oil to rub over the upper breast area to improve supply. Avoid contact with your nipples.
It's important to note that scientists have not confirmed the benefits of essential oils for breastmilk production. “There’s no research to back up the use of essential oils to increase milk supply,” says Jennifer de Franco, RN, IBCLC, owner of Premier Lactation Services in Northern Virginia. “No one in the field is really talking about them.”
Still, there are many advantages of relieving stress. If you find that a little lavender used wisely helps ease the tension, go for it!
It may seem like a last resort, but there are medical supplements available if the situation is dire.
Do be aware, using medication to improve milk supply production is a relatively unexplored area. Currently, the US FDA has not approved of any medication on the market.
Consult a physician before coming to any conclusion. Your doctor may discover a different cause for the supply issue with a more conventional treatment option.
Let's Make Some Milk
There you have it!
Breastfeeding a newborn can be very stressful, but it's all part of the learning process of motherhood. Take it one step at a time, and know that everything will fall into place for you and your baby in its own time.
It's always a good idea to reach out, though! Nobody can quite teach you how to be a mom, but we can all learn from one another as we go along on our journeys through parenthood.
Feel free to contact us with any more questions you might have about increasing milk supply, we're here to help.