In The Guide
Have you ever wondered how breast milk is produced?
The formula is simple: the more milk you express to baby or pump, the more your body will create for you.
Nursing is a supply and demand cycle. Baby drinks milk (demand) and then your breasts produce more milk (supply).
Seems simple, right?
Unlike a baby bottle, you obviously can’t see the ounces leaving your breasts. Therefore, you do not know how much breast milk you are producing or how much baby is drinking during feedings.
Since your breasts are not see through, you may wonder “Am I producing enough breast milk?” and “How can I produce more breast milk?”
Thankfully, we at Mom Tricks, have the answers you need to ensure your supply is sufficient for baby and tips to produce more breast milk when you’re feeling as if your supply is low.
Is your Breast Milk Supply Low?
Having a diminished supply of breast milk for your little bundle of joy, especially in the beginning months of their lives, is especially frustrating. You must always ask yourself the question: is your breast milk supply really low?
- Is your baby gaining weight? If your baby is not gaining adequate weight, your milk supply may be low. Checking in with a lactation consultant can assist you with determining if your little one’s weight gain is sufficient.
- How are the diapers? According to Kelly Mom for breastfed babies, “After day 4, stools should be yellow and baby should have at least 3-4 stools daily that are the size of a US quarter (2.5 cm) or larger.” and “Once mom’s milk comes in, expect 5-6+ wet diapers every 24 hours.” If you’re not experiencing either, there could potentially be a supply problem.
- How is baby’s behavior? Is your baby generally content after eating? If so, you don’t need to worry about producing more breast milk. However, if your baby is very fussy and cranky and isn’t sleeping well, it COULD mean they’re still hungry but this isn’t a sure fire sign.
Although these are not necessarily definitive ways to determine if your supply is lacking, they are signs that baby is not getting what they need. Setting up an appointment with a lactation consultant is critical before making any decisions to increase your supply.
What Causes Poor Breast Milk Supply?
You could also be contributing to your poor milk supply. There are several factors that physically affect prolactin production (the chemical released to produce breast milk) and also several factors that cause baby to nurse less, therefore decreasing supply. Such as:
- Supplementing: By providing a supplement, you are not complementing the supply and demand for your breasts to be producing more milk.
- Bottle preference: Bottles need a different sucking technique than the breast. Also, some bottles interfere with the way baby latches onto the breast. It’s important to choose a baby bottle that is closest to a natural latch as possible
- Scheduled Feedings: Feeding baby when hungry is crucial to the supply and demand needed for feeding. By scheduling feedings, the supply and demand cycle can become skewed.
- Pacifiers: Same with the bottles, pacifiers can affect baby’s latch. They can also reduce time on the breast affecting supply and demand.
- Health or anatomical problems: If baby has health issues such as jaundice, or a tongue-tie, to name a few, it can prevent baby from adequately removing milk from the breast, affecting the supply and demand.
There are other factors that may be a cause of low breast milk supply, the above examples are just a few. Be sure to speak with a lactation consultant to assist you in determining possible reasons for poor supply.
Tricks to Produce More Breast Milk
Many mother’s wonder how they can produce more breast milk or speed up milk production. The key to both of those is to remove more milk from the breasts, making less milk accumulate between feedings, and triggering your body to produce more based off of the supply and demand theory. Here are some things that can increase milk supply:
- Nurse frequently: The more you nurse, the more milk is removed, and the more your breasts will produce. Nurse as long as baby is actively nursing.
- Take a nursing vacation: Take baby to bed with you and nurse constantly for a day or two. The nursing vacation allows you to focus on feeding baby and baby only to boost supply.
- Hydrate: Make sure you are getting enough water throughout the day. If you are dehydrated, you will not produce nearly as much milk.
- Add in pumping sessions: Adding in breast pumping sessions between feedings helps to empty the breast. Emptying the breast, as we have said before, triggers the body to produce more milk!
There are other tricks out there to increase supply, these are just a few things that have worked for other mother’s out there. Try them out to see what best suits your needs.
Foods to Produce More Breast Milk
- Adding in an herbal galactagogue. (See Kelly Mom article)
- Ovaltine. (The malt helps!)
- Spinach and Beet Leaves
- Fennel Seeds
- Fenugreek Seeds
- Brown Rice
- Apricots (Dried are awesome!)
- Lactation Cookies (I prefer Mrs. Patel’s , they worked wonders for me and help with postpartum healing)
- Cumin Seeds
- Water and 100% Juice (not a food but still!!!)
By ensuring you have a balanced diet, your breast milk supply should be just fine! The specific foods mentioned above will assist you in keeping your supply up.
Remember: if you think you have supply issues, contact a professional lactation consultant to assist you!
If there are other ways to increase milk production not listed we would love to hear from you! Comment below with a method or food that has been successful for you in increasing your supply.