As a new mom, it is always excited to welcome our child on the 1st day he/she was born. One thing is for sure that all human being are able to produce breast milk for their offspring and nurture them with the unique human milk which cannot be replicated by the infant milk formula in the market.
According to WHO, it is always recommended providing our newborn child breast milk for at least 6 months. The benefit of breast milk for babies’ growth and development are just too overwhelming and there are tons of research papers related to the benefit of breast milk to a child which can proof the “breast is the best”. Not only breastfeeding has health benefits to both mother and child, breast milk is the natural resource from the mother to the child without spending a single penny.
Production of milk depends on many factors. For some women, their breast milk is oversupplied and their babies have more than enough milk for their growth and development. Let us look at what are the factors affecting the breast milk supply.
In this end of the article, I will share some tips to increase breast milk supply for low-supply moms and those who wish to breastfeed their child exclusively. There are many ways to increase milk supply and taking supplements are one of the ways that work for you too.
Factors affect breast milk supply
Well, let’s look at factors that causing insufficient milk supply.
- Poor babies sucking stimulation may cause milk supply to drastically reduce. Improper way of sucking will also lead to complication besides the supply drop – engorged breast and blocked duct.
- Breastfeeding is based on supply and demand concept. If baby is separated from the mother ( example mother return to the workplace and away from baby more than 8 hours) may interfere with the supply. Keep baby close to the mother, day and night, frequent nursing is the best way to maintain milk supply.
- Shorter nursing period. Our breast will produce fore milk (slightly transparent liquid) at the beginning of breastfeeding process and followed by hind milk (more fatty and higher calorie content milk). We shall nurse our babies ( about 20-45 minutes) especially at the newborn stage to get enough hind milk to strive. Emptying both breast after each feed will establish better milk supply.
- Breastfeeding supplemented with formula will decrease the mother’s milk supply. Again it is about supply and demand concept, if babies sucking less breast milk, our body will produce less milk. Sound logic right?
- Mother’s health condition will affect the milk supply too. When mother is sick or under pressure, milk supply will also drop.
- Introduce pacifier to babies too early can affect the mother’s milk supply. Why is that so? It is because babies like sucking in a pacifier will cause them less sucking on the breast. Less stimulation on the breast will likely to affect the milk production.
- Improper lactation position will cause nipple sore and delay the breastfeed. Tongue-tie can lead to improper lactation and it shall be corrected and promote better latching will increase the milk supply.
- If mother had breast injuries or surgery previously will likely to have lower supply. It could be due to damaged milk duct during the surgery.
- If a nursing mother taking birth controlled pill can alter the hormone level and decrease the milk supply. Be cautious when taking any medication and always consult your pediatrician to be sure it does not affect your milk supply.
What you do to increase milk supply?
If you are aware of the factors which make your milk supply drop, I think it will be easier for you to understand what need to be done in order to increase it.
- Monitor your babies weight gain. If you have problem with lactation, you shall seek help from the lactation consultant for the proper lactation technique. We cannot measure our breast milk volume like how we measure the formula. Therefore, we are unable to tell whether babies are full or partially full. Emptying both breast after each feed and monitor babies condition. You can tell from the little face whether they are happy or they get fussy after 30 minutes.
- Feed on demand. Frequent nursing will ensure adequate stimulation to produce more milk, our body will adjust to babies’ need. Nursing longer (about 20-45 minutes) will ensure babies get more of the high calorie hind milk from the mother to strive.
- Mothers shall take good care of your own health. No stress, try to sleep more and eat balanced diet.
- Breast massage or hand compression will help the hind milk let down more efficiently.
- Introduce bottle or pacifier too early (less than 2 weeks old) will reduce the babies sucking needs at the breast. Sucking less on the breast mean less stimulation, therefore, milk supply will be affected. Order babies have less problem switching from breast to bottle because they are well-established with breastfeed.
- Invest in good breast pump or renting it if you can get one. Hospital grade pumps are stronger, powerful and efficient. Some pumps have imitation of babies sucking and massage feature which can easily express milk and it is useful when you are separated from your babies (especially when you start working).
Maternal diet is also important and help with the milk supply. During your breastfeeding period, eat balanced food. We need to gain enough strength, as you know frequent breastfeeding will make you tired and you know what, you will eventually lose weight more easily if you breastfeed. Gaining enough nutrient from food also promote your milk production.
Natural food source
Some mothers claimed that certain food can help them booster their milk supply. My experience is that I did consume some foods claimed by them which also work for me.
Galactagogue food – defined as substance which promote lactation in humans according to Wikipedia. These foods which grouped under it are for examples,
- herbs like fenugreek, milk thistle, fennel, anise, moringa etc.
- green papaya
- nuts such as walnuts, cashews, macadamia nut
- dark green leafy vegetable
Red dates also help increase prolactin (hormone that induce milk production) in our body. For Chinese, we boil water with red dates, dried longan and goji berries, drink it everyday.
Well, there is no scientific proof that these foods help in lactation. Food has been used to increase milk supply by mothers for centuries. Since they are safe to consume, there is no harm consuming them and they are fine to be incorporated in your daily diet. Just keep in mind, all the food you consumed shall be balanced. Too much or too less milk supply is no good at all. In order to make sure galactagogue food work best for you, emptying both breast after each feed is essential.
If you implement the steps that I proposed and you find it not helping you at all, food supplement is also one of the choice. If you cannot find the source of the food around you or you find them hassle to cook them every day, here are some examples of food supplement you can try. Before you try any of the product supplement, consult the Health Professional first.
Food supplement is only worth buying unless you have tried all the above mentioned steps or recommended by Health Professional. However, it is important to note that not everyone is having the same effect after consuming a particular supplement. Some may has positive result some may not get the outcome they desire.
There are a few examples of supplement which have been used by mothers who achieve great result.
1.Fenugreek supplement – it can be in the form of capsule, tea bag, small packet drink. Fenugreek is proven to be safe to consume and it is one of galactagogue food. Some people may have allergy reaction to Fenugreek, for those who are allergic to peanuts and chickpeas. But overall, Fenugreek is able to increase milk supply and the effect can be seen in 1-3 days.
Click here to access iherb.com to see the customer review before purchase. There are a small group of people do not favor the smell and do little or no avail in booster their milk supply.
Some supplement comes with combination of herbs like anise seed, fenugreek, fennel and blessed thistle, in small tea bag form.
2. Organic Mother’s Milk
This organic Mother’s milk tea bag consists of fennel, anise, coriander, fenugreek and blessed thistle. These are galactagogues food that increase prolactin level in our body. It is best to consume 3-5 cups daily to have significant result. Some people find little or no avail in booster their milk supply and some do not favor the herbal taste.
Click here to access iherb.com to see the customer review before purchase.
3.Oatmeal cookies or lactation cookies – You can get lactation cookies in the market or make your own. Some homemade lactation cookies recipe can be accessed here too.
All human in nature, is able to produce sufficient milk for their offspring. If we use the right lactation technique and consume food which are believed to increase milk supply, we are still able to enjoy our breastfeeding journey to the fullest.
Always consult a Lactation Consultant in terms of lactation technique that work best for you.
Dear readers, I hope you will find this article insightful. Please share your experience with us here in the comment below on effective ways to increase your milk supply.