Your new bundle of joy just arrived. Congratulations! As a new mom, you're likely aware of the importance of breast milk for your baby, and because of the many benefits, you may have plans to breastfeed your baby for as long as a year or more.
Everything goes well for the first few days -- but suddenly, you notice your baby is fussier than normal. You wonder if your milk supply has dwindled and if your baby is receiving enough nutrition. If you have this concern, don't panic. Here are some tips on how to increase milk supply successfully.
It's relatively rare that you wouldn't be able to produce adequate breast milk for your baby's needs. Your body is designed to produce enough milk to feed your growing baby and decides how much to make based on how much is taken out. Breastfeeding freely and frequently -- at least 12 times per day, ideally every two to three hours -- will help increase your milk volume.
Use a Breast Pump
Breast pumps can also help increase your milk supply. Whether you pump between feedings or while breastfeeding, this method stimulates milk production by tricking your body into thinking your baby is feeding more frequently. Aim to pump several times a day for at least 10 minutes per session after your baby has already been fed.
Keep a Breastfeeding Log
As a breastfeeding mom, it can be tough to keep track of whether your baby is getting enough milk to grow healthy and strong. One way to monitor how well your baby is nursing is through a breastfeeding log. Inadequate nursing can decrease your breast milk production, so using a log can help you ensure that you're breastfeeding frequently enough. You can also record details to help you identify trends, such as which breast your baby feeds best from.
Watch Your Diet
Maintaining a healthy diet by eating adequate amounts of nutritious foods can help increase your breast milk supply. A balanced breastfeeding diet should include fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean meats and fish. You should also drink plenty of water daily to stay hydrated and maintain your milk volume.
Consuming galactagogues may help increase a sluggish milk supply. Galactagogues include foods such as oats, almonds, coconut, and chickpeas. These are safe and nutritious ways to boost your milk volume. There are also herbal galactagogues -- some of the most commonly used include fenugreek, alfalfa, and blessed thistle. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new supplements.
Breastfeeding has many benefits, but your journey may not always be stress-free. Ultimately, most moms do make enough breast milk to feed their babies, but sometimes determining how to increase milk supply requires professional assistance. Doctors and lactation specialists can assist you with milk supply issues, most of which can be easily treated and resolved.