9 Ways to Increase Breast Milk Production
Joy, heartache, nipple-ache…breastfeeding is a totally different experience for every mom and baby. But fretting about whether or not you’re producing enough milk is pretty much universal. Here, some clever tips to help boost your supply.
You’ll hear this one over and over ’cause it’s true: The more you nurse, the more milk your body will produce (our bodies are cool that way). Supply and demand, baby.
Pump after feeding
After your baby’s had his fill, try pumping immediately. This will remove any leftover milk, thereby helping you to produce more (see note about supply and demand above).
Or hand-express every time you go to the bathroom
Not up for setting up the damn pump every four hours? Just make it habit to hand-express into the sink (or into a bottle) every time you’re in the bathroom. Even that little extra extraction can help boost production.
Take a vacation
A nursing vacation, that is. Say no to guests and commitments for a few days, and simply lie in bed and focus on breastfeeding (frequently), relaxing and bonding with your baby. Sometimes just the act of trying to use a nursing cover while your mother-in-law looks on can be enough to hold your body back.
Guzzling gallons of water won’t affect your milk supply, but do make sure to drink when you’re thirsty since being dehydrated definitely can. Keep a bottle of water near your nursing station or your desk at work and make sure to take regular sips.
It’s not quite the same as hitting the gym but breastfeeding is definitely hard work, which is why many pros recommend getting an extra 300 to 500 calories per day. Note: Extra calories should come from good-for-you foods and not, um, from chips.
Pump with props
Milk letdown and production are triggered by your baby (how cool is that?) so to get things going, try looking at a photo of your kid or inhaling her scent from a blanket as you start to pump.
Snack on fennel
Plenty of foods are touted as being galactagogues (substances that increase breast milk supply), but there aren’t that many studies to back these claims up. Fennel, however, does have some research to suggest that it may indeed increase breast milk production, so try incorporating some of the anise-flavored leaves into a healthy salad or try sipping fennel tea. Hey, it can’t hurt, right?
Call the experts
If you find yourself struggling to breastfeed or just want some outside assistance, then reach out to a lactation consultant or a postpartum doula (La Leche League is an awesome, free resource). An expert can offer constructive solutions like different techniques and positions.