The first four to six weeks of breastfeeding are critical for breastfeeding success, especially if you’re a first-time mother. If your breast milk supply is low, it can usually be increased naturally by taking a few easy steps.
1. Evaluating Your Baby’s Latch
Make sure that your baby is latching on to your breast correctly. Latching your baby on properly is the most efficient way to increase your supply. A poor latch is often the main reason a mother’s supply of breast milk is not as abundant as it can be. Without a proper latch, your baby cannot remove the milk from your breast well.
However, when your baby is latched on correctly and draining the milk from your breast, it stimulates your body to produce more. If you are not sure how to determine if your baby is latching on correctly, talk to your doctor.
2. Continue To Breastfeed
Your body makes breast milk based on the laws of supply and demand. Increase the demand, and you’ll increase the supply. As long as your baby is latching on to your breast well, the more you breastfeed, the more you’re telling your body that you need more breast milk.
3. Stimulate Your Breasts
Learning how to express your breast milk by hand can prove useful. Many mothers prefer using hand expression over using a breast pump since it’s more natural and it doesn’t cost anything. During the first few days of breastfeeding, hand expression may be more comfortable, and it may help to remove more breast milk than a breast pump. However, it’s a skill so it could take some time to learn.
4. Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes
You may not realize it, but some of the things you might be doing every day can affect your breast milk supply. Things that can interfere with your supply of breast milk include smoking, taking the combination birth control pill, stress, and fatigue. You may be able to increase your supply of breast milk naturally by making a few changes to your daily routine.
Use a breast pump or a hand expression technique to continue to stimulate your breasts after you finish breastfeeding your baby. The extra stimulation will tell your body that you need more breast milk.
5. Breastfeeding Longer
Your newborn should be breastfeeding for at least 10 minutes on each side. If he falls asleep, try to wake him up gently to continue nursing. The more time your baby spends at the breast, the more stimulation you’re getting.
6. Don’t Skip Feedings Or Give Your Baby Formula
Your body makes more breast milk when your baby nurses at the breast. If you skip feedings or give your little one formula instead of breastfeeding, you aren’t telling your body that you want it to make more breast milk. Your supply will decline unless you pump in place of that feeding. Even though pumping can help to build and maintain your milk supply, it’s not the same as breastfeeding. Your baby does much a better job than a breast pump, especially in the beginning when you’re just building up your supply.
7. Breastfeed From Both Breasts
During the first few weeks, breastfeeding from both sides during each feeding will help to build up a stronger supply of breast milk. You just want to be sure to alternate the breast you start breastfeeding on each time you feed your baby since the first breast usually gets more stimulation. If you always start on the same side, that breast may make more milk and become larger than that other one.
8. Keep Your Baby Awake
During the first week of life, some newborns are drowsy and sleep a lot. If you have a sleepy baby, not only should you wake her up every three hours to breastfeed, but you also want to keep her awake and actively sucking while you’re breastfeeding.
To keep a sleepy baby nursing, try rubbing her feet, changing her diaper, burping her, or unwrapping her so she’s not feeling so warm and cozy. By keeping your child awake and nursing, she’ll be able to get enough nourishment while providing your body with the stimulation you need to create a healthy supply of breast milk.
9. Boost Skin-to-skin Contact
Originally a treatment for premature babies, skin-to-skin contact has many benefits for full-term newborns, too. Skin-to-skin, also called kangaroo care, is a way to hold a baby. Skin-to-skin also encourages bonding, and it’s great for breastfeeding. Studies show that kangaroo care can encourage a baby to breastfeed longer, and help a mother to make more breast milk.
Read also: What To Do When Babies Are Teething
10. Eat Well
It’s a good idea to try to eat well while you’re breastfeeding. Breastfeeding and making breast milk requires a good amount of energy. So, to build up a healthy milk supply, fuel your body with well-balanced meals and healthy snacks. Add some milk-boosting foods such as oatmeal, dark green veggies, and almonds to your daily diet to help you get those much-needed extra calories.
11. Drink Plenty Of Fluids
Breast milk is made up of about 90% water, so don’t forget to drink enough fluids every day. Drinking about 6 to 8 glasses of water or other healthy liquids such as milk, juice, or tea should be enough to keep you hydrated. If you’re feeling thirsty, drink more. And if you’re dizzy, or you have a headache or a dry mouth, those are signs you might not be drinking enough.
12. Get Enough Rest
Exhaustion and stress can have a negative effect on your milk supply. Try to take a nap when the baby is sleeping, and know that it’s OK to ask for help. When you’re rested and not so stressed, your body can put that extra energy into making a healthy breast milk supply.
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