Most breastfeeding mothers occasionally become concerned that they are not producing enough milk for their babies. This is usually a needless worry, since very few women do not produce enough milk for their babies.
But what if your baby is showing some signs that he or she is not getting enough milk—growing a bit slowly or not wetting enough diapers per day? The first thing to do is consult with your baby’s pediatrician or pediatric nurse practitioner to make sure your worries are valid and to check if anything else going on besides or in addition to a supply problem.
Your supply of breast milk relies on the rules of supply and demand. Your milk supply will almost always adjust to match your baby’s demand for it. When your baby takes more milk from your breasts, your breasts adjust production and start to make more within a few days. When he or she takes less, production goes down.
So the best way to increase your milk supply is to increase the demand. Nurse more frequently. Your baby should use both your breasts at each feeding. You can also try switching breasts two or three times per feeding.
Let your baby end the feedings. A baby will usually detach from the breast or fall asleep on their own when they have had enough.
Check to make sure your baby is latching on correctly. Even though your baby is sucking milk out of your breast, he or she might not be doing it as efficiently as possible. If the baby is not latched on correctly he or she may be sucking but removing less milk, which means that your supply goes down because less is being taken out.
Do not offer your baby a bottle or a pacifier so that he or she does all the sucking where it counts and where it helps that supply and demand process. Babies nurse from a bottle or suck on a pacifier differently than they do on a breast which means that using either can interfere with your baby’s ability to latch on and to nurse properly from your breast.
Remember to take care of yourself. Try to rest and relax. Eat a good, balanced diet and make sure that you don’t get thirsty. You don’t have to drink excessive amounts of water or fluids a day, but you do need to make sure you don’t get dehydrated.
There are herbal supplements, products, and medications that can increase your milk supply. Herbs such as fenugreek, blessed thistle, oatmeal, and alfalfa have been used for centuries to help women increase milk supply, but these don’t work for every woman and they work best when used in conjunction with the methods discussed above. And don’t assume that herbal supplements are completely safe for everyone. Any supplement that can have an effect on your body can also have a side effect. There are also drugs that can help increase your milk supply that your doctor can prescribe.
If you are having any type of problem with breastfeeding, sit down with a lactation consultant. A certified lactation consultant can troubleshoot the situation and can offer advice and help.
Have you tried your own techniques to increase breast milk production? Share with us in the comments section below.
You may also want to read the following related posts in Pregistry’s blog: You Are Having Breastfeeding Problems. Who Are You Going to Call? and Am I Making Enough Breast Milk?