Baby wants more milk than you are producing? Feeling like a failure? Maybe you are feeling the pressure from your family, friends and even your doctor to supplement and you are trying everything in your power not to…well, let’s talk about how you can naturally boost that milk supply of yours and hopefully get your baby to gain some weight and you to put that mind at ease (well, at least a little bit 😉
As breastfeeding mamas we are always going to question how much baby is getting and whether or not that is enough.
First things first, if you are pumping and your output is what is freaking you out, remember that pumping will ALWAYS produce less milk. The pump just doesn’t stimulate the way baby does – therefore, your baby is getting more on the breast than you see in that bottle. So, if your baby is gaining weight and is content otherwise…you’re good.
Okay? Alright. Let’s breathe.
Now, if your baby isn’t gaining, or maybe he/she is gaining but doesn’t seem satisfied, and you want to produce more, let’s talk about a few ways to produce more.
Actually, as far as extensive research goes this is only one thing that is actually proven to produce more milk is nipple stimulation: massaging and touching your nipples. It triggers the hormone prolactin which makes milk. This is it – this is the most effective way. If you want more milk – nipple stim as often as possible – that’s why people tell you to put that baby on the breast as much as possible. A few ways to stimulate those nipples and produce more milk:
- Breastfeed more.
Supply and Demand, Mama! The more that breast “empties”, the more it will produce. Let baby finish on one side before you switch to the other. Timing doesn’t help! Putting them on at least every two hours will help. This may mean waking them and it may mean doing it more than every two hours. The more they are at the breast, the more it will stimulate production. You won’t be overfeeding, and if their weight is an issue, this can only help. Also, trying doing breast compressions as you feel your breast emptying to stimulate those milk ducts even more! Remember, if baby is content suckling, even if they don’t seem to be getting much, that is stimulating the nipple.
- Massage/touch. Every hour or so, set your timer, and massage your breasts, but specifically your areola and nipple itself. Touch itself will stimulate that hormone, prolactin, so you don’t have to be too concerned about the “how to” part. Just get that touch on them. If you are uncomfortable with this, #1 and #3 are your best options.
- Pump after feedings.
This is the same idea as breastfeeding more often, but the pump (instead of baby) will stimulate each empty breast to produce more. You aren’t pumping to build a freezer supply at this point – you are pumping to increase your supply overall. So, no stress if it isn’t a lot.
There are a few more things you can do, just to create a healthier you. Breastfeeding happens most easily and most comfortably when we are the healthiest we can be. Some reports will say these increase your milk supply, and while there isn’t much evidence to back that up, they will help you to feel your best:
- Drink more water!!!
Your body needs that water more than anything to keep producing milk. Eating definitely supplies the nutrients, but if there isn’t enough fluid in your body – it just can’t produce more milk. When breastfeeding, try to drink a minimum of 3 Liters of water a day. It seems like a lot, but it’s doable…and it does help!
- Look at your own diet.
Trying to lose that baby weight? Okay, but don’t even think about starving yourself. Changing your diet and focusing on nutrients is going to suit you, and your baby, a whole lot better than trying to deprive yourself. Trying to lose weight when you are nursing is a whole science in and of itself. Make sure you are eating good foods and getting enough calories. Smoothies are a great way to keep your calories down, your hydration up and get nutrients in and adding protein can make you feel better and trigger fat loss!
- Speaking of that, stop stressing.
Stress is proven to effect milk supply. Try your hardest not to worry. Trust your body and trust your doctors. Don’t be scared to get second opinions – this is important stuff.
Try these tips and see if they help. There are other strategies that might work for you, but this is definitely where you can start. Happy milking!
P.S. if you are reading this and you are worried that you milk supply has dipped and you have your period (or are expecting it)…stop stressing, that’s likely why!
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