Every new breastfeeding mother will wonder at one point or another if she is really producing enough milk for her baby. After all, breasts do not come pre-marked with ounces and so there is no way to know for sure exactly how much milk baby is receiving.
Before you set out to find ways to increase breast milk production however, find out if this is something that you truly need to do or if it is just new mommy jitters. The one thing that is worse than an undersupply is an overly abundant one!
Do you Really Need to Increase Milk Supply?
Does your baby seem hungry? Especially right after breastfeeding? Or maybe your baby is just fussy a lot. This could be a sign that your milk is low and our baby is not getting enough.
The easiest way to tell if your baby is getting enough milk is to monitor their diapers. What goes in must come out, and as long as baby is having 6-8 wet diapers a day (more in cloth diapered babies), chances are all is well.
If you still aren’t convinced, schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. If baby is healthy, responsive, and gaining weight, the doctor will reassure you that all is well. If it turns out your hunch was right on target, however, don’t give up on breastfeeding just yet.
The Most Natural Way to Stimulate Breast Milk
Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand system. The more your baby demands, the more your breasts will produce. This is why it is never a good idea to prolong a feeding, especially if you are struggling with maintaining a good supply.
Take a two or three day nursing vacation and allow your baby to nurse whenever he or she wants around the clock. Encourage the use of your breasts by your baby as pacifiers, if you will. Many new mothers are concerning with “spoiling” baby this way, but you both will return to a normal schedule relatively quickly once your supply problems are taken care of; as baby gets more, baby will stay satisfied longer.
Increase Milk Supply by Pumping
If you simply cannot nurse baby constantly, or if baby has gone on a dreaded nursing strike because he or she isn’t getting satisfied, it may be time to look into a good double breast pump. Do not be tempted to replace feedings with the pump but pumping in between feedings is a great way to increase milk supply!
Always let baby nurse whenever possible as your child is far more efficient at removing milk than any mechanical device. You can either purchase a high quality pump for continued use or rent a hospital grade pump for a few days until your supply comes in. If you cannot afford those options a cheaper hand pump is better then nothing.
If you can get up at night between feedings to pump then you have the best shot of producing more milk. I know it sounds crazy and won’t be easy, but frequent “feedings” is the natural way of alerting your body that more milk is needed. Extended times of non-feeding (which often happen at night) lead to a loss in supply so do what you can to feed or pump often throughout the day and night.
Supplements to Increase Milk Supply
There are some herbal supplements that have long been proven to stimulate the supply of breast milk. The most commonly known is fenugreek and should be available in local herbal remedy shops and whole food markets or found online here. Another popular supplement is More Milk Plus by Motherlove which comes in capsules and liquid. This all natural supplement is very easy way to produce more breastmilk.
If there are none of these establishments in your area, milk supply supplements can be found online. Keep in mind that it won’t matter how many of these supplements you take if you are not regularly emptying your breasts; nurse and pump often and you will soon see your supply increasing. But if you can combine all of these methods, even for just a week, you should start to see results.