As a mother myself, I know the struggle can be real when it comes to breastmilk supply and latching... Every baby is different! So even if it was a breeze for one pregnancy, doesn't mean your next will be just as easy. When breastfeeding both of my children, I struggled. I did everything in the books to try and increase my supply. Here are a few tips to increasing or keeping your supply.
1. Stay hydrated
You need to drink a half pint to a pint of water at every single feed. Try to have a glass or bottle of water on the go with you at all times.
It’s such a huge part of breastfeeding and when you’re exhausted from the trials of motherhood it can be really easy to forget to drink enough water. Make time to have a drink as often as you can, it’s so important for you and your baby. Being hydrated will help your body to produce more milk. To remind yourself to keep hydrated, buy a water bottle that you can easily carry around the house with you.
2. Eat a good diet
It’s so important for your baby’s health that you get a balanced diet. What you eat is reflected in the quality of your breast milk. But it’s also important to look after your body with decent nutrition to keep your energy levels up. Remember to eat good, hearty meals that fill you up and keep you strong. One of the hardest things about being a new mum can be your postpartum body. There is a lot of pressure to snap straight back into shape and be slim within weeks of giving birth. Please do not worry about your weight. The important thing right now is to nourish your body, as this will have a positive impact on your baby. If you eat well-balanced meals and stick to healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts and wholewheat bread or bagels, the weight will naturally fall off over time.
Foods that can help to boost production of breast milk include:
Try to find recipes that include these ingredients for your daily diet.
3. Lots of skin to skin contact
The hormone oxytocin helps your body to produce breast milk. This hormone is stimulated by close contact with your baby.
So strip both of you off as often as possible and get in plenty of cuddles.
In order to get a chance to do this, you may need to let relatives know that you’re going to need some private time!
Ask your other half to make sure you aren’t disturbed so that you and your baby can enjoy some quiet time together.
4. Lactation cookies
We’ve already touched on diet and foods that can boost breast milk supply. Why not have some fun and make your own lactation cookies. Google or Pinterest m&m Lactation cookies! They are delicious!
5. Try power pumping
Even if your boobs are not responding well to the breast pump at first, if you keep using it you will find this improves with time.
I absolutely loved my breast pump and found that it was key at getting my supply off the ground. The key thing to do is get a decent pump, and if you’re really looking to save time then get a double pump so that you can halve your pumping time.
Try pumping after every single feed. Pump for around 20 minutes, then rest for 10 minutes, then pump for 10 minutes, rest for another 10 minutes and pump again for 10 minutes one last time. You might feel like a cow for a while but this can really help, plus you may find your build up a bit of a breast milk stash in your freezer which is a bonus.
There are more tips for power pumping on the Lansinoh website.
6. Lactation smoothie
Who doesn’t love a smoothie!? Try adding some breast milk friendly ingredients to it in order to get your milk supply back on track.
7. Ditch your feeding routine
If you are on a feeding routine then ditch it and just put your baby to the breast at every opportunity.
Allow your baby to suckle and feed at every opportunity and whenever you think they may want to. Don’t wait until the start to cry, look for hunger signs which you can read up on over on this post about how to tell if your baby is getting enough milk.
It can feel relentless, especially if your baby is just a few weeks old and you are still exhausted from giving birth and the lack of sleep.
You may even frequently find yourself thinking “surely he can’t still be hungry”? With newborns, you will be surprised at how often and long they can sit quite happily sucking on your boob. Just let it happen, because the best natural stimulant for your milk supply is your baby.
To counteract the exhaustion of this you can try:
Not planning to go out at all.
Breastfeeding when lying down to stay comfy and rested.
Get help with the baby whenever you can and nap when the baby naps.
8. Ditch pacifiers and bottles
You may be relying on that evening bottle to give you a break. The pacifiers can be a lifesaver if your baby has been crying non-stop.
However any time your baby wants to suckle, you need to put them to your breast. A bottle can become a part of your regular routine, but if it’s hitting your supply then either pump while your baby has the bottle or wait a few more weeks until your milk supply is well established.
9. Hand express some milk when in the shower
Warm water and relaxation in the shower plus a bit of breast massage can help your hand express some milk.
The more milk that is extracted from the breast, the more you will produce. Try feeding your baby immediately after a warm, relaxing shower as you may find yourself more relaxed and feeding a little easier.
Being tense during breastfeeding can have a knock-on effect on your letdown. Try to focus on your baby and relax as much as you can.
If you are having issues with pain or discomfort, make sure you have adequate back and arm support so that you aren’t straining your muscles.
Creating a breastfeeding station where you can get comfy can really help.
If it’s an issue with nipple pain, check your latch. Your baby should open their mouth wide before you latch them on and their head and spine should be in a straight line, however you’re holding them.
Your baby needs to tip their head back so that your nipple goes past the hard roof of their mouth and goes to the back of their mouth against the soft palate. This will protect you from pain and means they will feed more efficiently.
11. Get lots of sleep
This might feel like it’s an impossible task but you need to try and think creatively, and most importantly you need to ask for help.
Get someone else to take the baby out for a walk between feeds so that you can get a proper nap.
If your breast milk supply is low, then you won’t want to skip night feeds as this is when your milk producing hormone levels are at their highest.
Adapt your daily routine so that you are factoring in lots of rest for yourself rather than dashing around doing chores, seeing friends and a million other things.
If you are struggling to get to sleep at night, try taking a warm bath and then using a pillow spray – they can really work wonders to get you nodding off faster.
12. Take a boob vacation
Pull up the drawbridge and stay at home for a few days with nothing to do but feed, feed, feed.
Get in bed, get some box sets on and just focus on feeding for the next two or three days.
There are lots of benefits to a breastfeeding vacation, with the main one being that it relaxes you. Being relaxed is one of the biggest things you can do to improve your supply, so get rid of all distractions and just hibernate.
13. Remember to switch sides
Nobody wants lopsided boobs. Remind yourself to switch sides once your baby has drained one boob, so that your supply remains good in both breasts.
Try a bracelet or hairband on your wrist to remind you which side your baby last fed from.
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