How to Produce More Breast Milk
Breast milk is the best milk for your new precious one! Specially and perfectly packaged and ready to go at just the right temperature. So now that your new baby is here, how does my body continue to produce this special food. Should I be concerned about low milk supply and how do I increase my supply?
How Your Body Prepares for Breast Milk
Your body has been hard at work during the pregnancy to prepare for this new little person. A woman begins to produce what is called the first milk, colostrum, during the pregnancy. You will begin to produce colostrum with the help of certain hormones. The colostrum is loaded with antibodies and this process begins at approximately 16 weeks into the pregnancy. These special hormones will continue to produce the first milk until approximately 30-40 hours after the birth of your baby. This hormonal magic takes place in you with or without breastfeeding your child!
Producing Breast Milk After Birth
Within two to three days after birth, the breasts will begin to feel fuller and you will feel the “let down” sensation as the breasts fill up and produce milk. You have now reached what is termed the maintenance phase of breast milk production. At this point and beyond, to continue to produce breast milk and to maintain a constant supply, it is vital to have the breasts emptied at every feeding. In other words, your breast milk supply is a direct result of effective breastfeeding, and so the more often you breast feed your baby, or pump your breasts, the more breast milk you will produce!
As a very general rule, an average woman will produce approximately 25-30 ounces of breast milk in a 24 hour period. And remember, the size of your breasts has no correlation to the amount of breast milk you will produce.
What Affects the Fat Content of Breast Milk?
Your diet will affect the fat content in your breast milk. A healthy dose of the right fats (omega-3’s) is very important during nursing to supply your breastmilk with all the nutrients your baby needs to grow and thrive. The other factors that affect the fat content in breast milk are not diet related and rather physical including emptying the breasts, compression, and massage.
Here are some easy and effective ways to increase your supply, and to help produce more breast milk:
- Hydrate! Drinking loads of water and staying hydrated is essential with milk production.
- Eat a healthy well–balanced diet with the right nutrients. If you eat well, vitamin supplements are not necessary. And remember to avoid specific foods while nursing.
- Have healthy snacks on hand. Aim for items with a healthy amount of protein and fiber to keep you fueled for the day.
- Try to limit stress.
- Get restorative night sleep and rest as much as possible during the day.
- Empty your breasts more frequently by pumping more often or breastfeeding more often.
- The fat content of milk increases if the breasts are effectively emptied during feeding.
- Switch breasts during each feeding.
- Empty your breasts completely at each session.
- Use gentle massage from top to bottom of the breast and compression to move the milk down.
- Learn how to hand express any “leftover” breast milk from your breasts. There are great tutorials or videos online you can watch!