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Early years

19th Oct 2019

Breastfeeding: 5 easy ways to boost your milk supply if it is running low

Trine Jensen-Burke

low milk supply

First of all, is your milk supply really low?

Often, according to lactation consultants, new mums think that they aren’t producing enough milk, frequently mistaking baby’s frequent feeding as a sign he or she mustn’t be getting enough milk in each feed.

However, breastmilk is digested quickly (usually in 1.5-2 hours), so breastfed babies need to eat more often than formula-fed babies. As well as this, many babies have a strong need to suck, and babies often need continuous contact with mom in order to feel secure. Meaning, all these things are perfectly normal, and you cannot spoil your baby by meeting these needs, mama.

As a rule of thumb – if your baby is gaining weight well on breastmilk alone, well then you do not have a problem with milk supply.

If you are still worried about not producing enough milk, lactation experts say you should talk to your midwife or doctor about this straight away (they can and will help you figure out if your baby is getting enough food), but also look to your baby for clues.
A baby that is gaining weight, producting enough wet diapers and that settles down when fed is no doubt getting enough milk.

But if you want to do everything you can to boost and even up your milk production mama, there are some things you can do that have worked for many mums, and might just do the trick for you (and your boobs) too:

1. Breastfeeding tea

Certain herbs, like fennel, turmeric & shatavari, have long-since been known to increase the flow and quality of breast milk and to nourish the new mother and her baby. The Motherkind Baby from Pukka is a safe, non-caffinated blend of herbs that taste declicous and might just get those boobs of yours working extra hard.

Lactation cookies are another great way of upping milk supply – here is a great recipe to try.

Pukka The Motherkind Baby, €3.50, The Health Store (and local healthfood stores nationwide)

2. Feed on demand

Letting your baby nurse whenever he or she wants to, will keep your supply high and your body will naturally adjust to your baby’s increased appetite.

If your baby suddenly increases the frequency and/or length of nursings, it could mean that he or she  is going through a bit of a growth spurt. Don’t offer baby supplements when this happens: supplementing will inform your body that the baby doesn’t need the extra milk, and your supply will drop.

And make sure that baby is nursing efficiently, so that all of the milk is removed from your breast on each feed – something which will increase milk production. If milk isn’t effectively removed from the breast, then milk supply decreases.

Even more amazing? Your breastmilk is so tailor-made to your baby, it will change in composition and consistency if your baby is running a fever or gets a cold – super-charged and ready to support your baby’s immune system and get him or her back to full health.

Your baby sucking at your breast will tell your boobs to up production, naturally increasing supply to meet demand. Nature, mama, is pretty dang amazing.

3. Don’t try to put your breastfed baby on a ‘nursing schedule’

Trying to time out feeding when your breastfeed can interfere with the supply and demand cycle of milk production and can lead to a reduced supply, sometimes several months later rather than immediately. Nurse your baby whenever she is hungry.

The same goes for cutting short the length of nursings. Stopping a feeding before your baby decided herself she is done can also interfere with the supply-demand cycle. Also, your milk increases in fat content later into a feeding, which helps baby gain weight and last longer between feedings.

4. Take a nursing ‘staycation’

Take a nursing vacation. Take your baby to bed with you and literally spend 2-3 days just nursing as often and as long as he or she wants and rest (and eat and watch Netflix, obvs).

Sufficent rest and relaxation can do wonders for your milk production. Sleep when baby sleeps, eat a healthy, wholesome diet (get someone to make the food for you if you can – you, mama, should be conserving your energy for milk-making), take a breastfeeding vitamin supplement and make sure you drink enough water.

5. Pump

Nothing, not even pumping, will be quite as effective as letting your baby up your milk supply by sucking on your breast, but nonetheless, using a breast pump can be very helpful to many new mums. And pumping is very important when baby is not nursing efficiently or frequently enough.

Remember, your aim in pumping is to remove more milk from the breasts and/or to increase frequency of breast emptying. When pumping to increase milk supply, to ensure that the pump removes an optimum amount of milk from the breast, keep pumping for 2-5 minutes after the last drops of milk.