As he screamed in my arms, my tears mixed with his. I was just a few days into new motherhood, and I was already failing. People told me that nursing would be hard, but nothing had prepared me for this: I didn’t make enough milk to nourish my new baby, and no amount of visits to the lactation nurse seemed to help. So I started on a mission to boost my milk supply on my own. And you know what? I did it – and you can, too. Here’s how.
1. Rule out a poor latch
I know I just said that my visits to the lactation nurse weren’t helpful, but you do need them to help you out with a few things. First, they can make sure your baby’s latch is correct. Second, they can verify that your nursing form is proper – and even show you several different nursing positions that may be more comfortable for you and your baby. Finally, they can check whether or not your baby is tongue-tied. This is a common (but not always obvious) condition where the baby’s tongue is attached too tightly to the bottom of their mouth, making suckling difficult.
Once you’ve ruled out all physical causes for your baby’s hunger – and you’ve perfected your nursing form – you can focus on other ways to boost your milk supply.
2. Eliminate all other nipples
To eliminate nipple confusion (and to prevent your baby from developing a preference for a nipple that isn’t yours) eliminate all false nipples. This includes bottles, pacifiers, and nipple shields. If your child’s pediatrician is insistent that you supplement with formula due to serious concerns about their weight, consider a supplemental nursing system that feeds your baby via a tube connected to your own breast rather than using a bottle.
3. Make sure you’re hydrated
You’re a new mom – I get it. Who has time to take proper care of themselves? Well, if you’re looking to boost your milk supply you must remain properly hydrated. Fill a water bottle and make a goal of how long it will take you to finish it – I always found it easier to drink my liquids in the morning, and I’d taper off at night. Shoot for about 96 ounces of water per day.
4. Eat lactation-boosting foods
All you have to do is Google “lactation cookies, ” and you’ll be flooded with oatmeal cookie recipes containing all sorts of other ingredients. Foods such as oatmeal, fenugreek seeds, almonds, and leafy greens all have a positive effect on your milk supply. (Fenugreek even comes in a capsule form, though check with your doctor before taking it to make sure they approve.) Begin incorporating these foods into your diet daily and watch your supply increase.
5. Eat sufficient calories
Besides eating lactation-boosting foods, you need to make sure you’re eating enough other foods, too. The postpartum period is not the time to be worried about regaining your pre-baby bod; don’t limit your calories. The average breastfeeding mama needs about 2000 calories per day to produce sufficient milk, so make sure you’re eating enough throughout the day to meet that need.
6. Nurse on demand
If you’re not producing enough milk to keep your baby’s belly full, don’t even try to get them on a regular feeding or sleeping schedule yet. Instead, feed your baby whenever they want. The additional nipple stimulation and frequent emptying of the breasts should signal your body that your baby needs additional nutrition. If you’re not feeding a newborn but instead trying to boost your supply for an older baby, consider a “nursing vacation.” This is a period of 2-3 days where you do nothing but stay home and nurse your baby on demand around the clock. This also stimulates your body to realize that a milk supply that previously diminished is needed once again.
7. Nurse skin-to-skin
The oxytocin released when you’re snuggled up skin-to-skin stimulates both milk production and milk let-down. It’s also calming for your baby. Maximize the benefits of the closeness of nursing by practicing skin to skin. It won’t hurt if you do it at other times during the day, too.
8. Use your breast pump
When a baby empties your breast of milk, it signals your body to produce more. Use your breast pump to stimulate this need for an increase in production by pumping for 20 minutes after each nursing session. Do this through the nighttime hours, too. I know it’s hard – I know you’re tired – but this sacrifice is short-lived to boost your supply. You won’t have to do this forever.
You’ve got this mama
Nursing is tough – but it’s even tougher when you feel like your body is failing your baby and not producing the amount of milk it’s supposed to. Thankfully, there are many natural ways to boost your milk supply. It won’t happen overnight, but with dedication, you’ll be able to boost your milk production and keep your baby healthy and well-fed.
Note: This post is written by Jenny.
Jenny is the mother of two, a blogger, and a breastfeeding advocate. When she’s not spending time with her family, you can find her find her giving actionable parenting advice, breastfeeding tips & more at Mom Loves Best and Pinterest.
Pic Source: here