BY AUTUMN WAKE, RN, BSN, IBCLC & LAURA COOPER, BA, CLEC OF ADVANCED BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT OF LAS VEGAS
“Frequent feedings early on, sets up the tissue in your breast to make more milk throughout your entire breastfeeding journey”
First question: Do you really need to increase your milk supply? Often, the mother’s perception is that they “don’t have enough milk.” The truth is, most women do make enough milk — they just have a misconception of how much they should be making. Some of the behaviors babies demonstrate, such as frequent feeding and wanting to be close to mom, are perfectly normal and are not a sign of insufficient milk supply.
1. Feed early and often.
The best way to optimize your milk supply, starts at birth. Feeding your baby at the breast within an hour of birth, and frequently thereafter. Frequent feedings early on, sets up the tissue in your breast to make more milk throughout your entire breastfeeding journey. If your baby is not having expected output, gaining adequate weight, and you are supplementing with donor breastmilk or formula it is most commonly due to something going on with the way the baby removes the milk. If there are any questions on your milk supply, it is most helpful to get a thorough assessment: when in doubt call your IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).
2. The more you take out, the more you produce.
You have to take it out, to fill back up! Removing milk from your breasts is the key to increasing breast milk supply. That is how your breasts “know” how much milk to make. A technique we call “hands on pumping” is a way to help your pump empty your breasts, and you can also do this by applying this technique when feeding baby directly at breast. Stanford University has a great video on hands on pumping (view HERE), and through their research they found when women use their hands to pump they get out 40% more milk! Also it is important to remember that every ounce of supplementation your baby receives, is an ounce that your breasts do not know needs to be made. The way to offset this is to pump in place of that supplemental feeding using hands on pumping and a good pump.
3. Drink water and eat the right foods
Mommy needs nourishment and fluids in order to provide nourishment and fluids for baby. Dense foods are best. There are also some foods and drinks called lactogenic foods/herbs that have been anecdotally used for centuries to help support a healthy milk production. Some of the most common lactogenic foods include: fennel root, oats, barley water, to name a few.
4. Use herbs in teas.
Click here to see how to make the perfect tea infusion. Some herbs that can be added include nettles, oatstraw, blessed thistle, red raspberry leaf, goats rue and milk thistle, alfalfa, lemon balm, hops, whole fennel seed, anise. These herbs can also be available in pill form.
5. Talk with an expert.
Remember, foods and drinks do not necessarily “fix” a potential problem, like technique. They only work in conjunction with proper milk removal and a plan of care from your IBCLC. If you would like to learn more about lactogenic foods, there is a great book by Hillary Jacobson called “Motherfood” (link HERE).
ADVANCED BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT OF LAS VEGAS