One of my biggest worries when breastfeeding was having enough milk for my baby to grow and thrive. When talking to other breastfeeding mothers, many seems to worry that their breast milk supply is low. When breastfeeding you can’t see exactly how many ounces your baby is getting, so it’s hard not to worry that your baby is getting enough.
For a lot of women this can cause them to think they have a low breast milk supply, and for some women, a low milk supply is an actual issue for them. If you are struggling with low milk supply, or worried about this, here are some tips to help put your worries at ease.
1. Establish Good Breast Milk Supply Right from the Start
One of the best ways to combat low breast milk supply is to establish a good milk supply right from the beginning. When your baby is born, nurse him/her as soon as possible. Nurse your baby as often as they want.
By nursing your baby, you are telling your brain to make milk for the baby. Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand: the more you nurse, the more milk your body will make.
It usually takes about 6-8 weeks to establish a good milk supply, so during that time you need to nurse as often as your baby wants. Yes, this may mean less sleep for you. But it’s more fun to snuggle with a newborn in the middle of the night than to be up pumping because your supply has dropped.
If you are worried about whether your baby is getting enough, ask yourself these questions.
- Is my baby content in between feedings?
- Is my baby making plenty of wet diapers?
- Does my baby fall asleep after nursing?
- Am I hearing my baby swallowing milk during nursing?
If you answered yes to all or most of these questions then your baby is very likely getting enough. Remember, newborns have very tiny stomachs and they don’t need as much as we may think.
2. Feed on Demand
If you answered no to most of those questions than you may in fact have a low breast milk supply. Like I said earlier, breastfeeding is all about supply and demand.
If you are not making enough milk, make sure you breastfeed anytime your baby is acting hungry. This will tell usually tell your body that you need to make more milk for baby.
By skipping nursing sessions and giving baby a bottle instead you are telling your body that you don’t need to make more milk during that time. When you can’t be with your baby, pump during the times your baby would normally nurse so your body knows it needs to make more milk at that time each day.
Drink plenty of water when breastfeeding—especially if you have low milk supply. Water is great for keeping up a good supply. Drink it all day long. Keep a bottle of water with you wherever you go. Sometimes a low milk supply can be caused by something as simple as not drinking enough water or being dehydrated.
4. Extra Pumping
When your baby isn’t nursing and doesn’t seem to want to nurse, it could help your supply to add a few extra pumping sessions. This lets your body know to make more milk.
5. Avoid Certain Medications
Some medications, like certain cold medicines, have been known to decrease breast milk supply dramatically. These are definitely something you want to avoid, especially if you already suspect a low milk supply. The KellyMom website has a great list of medications with safety information and alternative methods for relief when you are sick.
6. Try a Galactagogue
A galactagogue is a substance that can increase your milk supply. Herbal supplements like fenugreek have been known to increase milk supply. If natural herbal remedies do not help, you may want to consult your doctor to talk about a prescription galactagogue to help increase supply
7. Contact a Lactation Consultant
If after trying these things you are still worried that your milk supply is low, contact a lactation consultant. A lactation consultant can help figure out the reasoning behind the low milk supply. She can also watch you nurse and make sure the latch is correct. She can give you more advice and tips on how to increase your supply.
These are some ways you can increase your milk supply and maintain a good milk production. Try not to stress out too much about it, because that can also influence how much milk you make. Remember you are doing the best you can for you baby and that is always enough.
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Michelle is the mommy behind the blog The Not-So-Secret Confessions of a Second Time Mom! She is a stay-at-home mom to two small boys, ages 3 and 1. She loves to write about breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and her crazy life as a mommy of two!