After nine long months of carrying your baby, you’re finally holding her in your arms, absolutely overjoyed and gearing up for your new role in life! Those months of morning sickness, back pain, heartburn and sleeping issues are behind you now. But, as is the norm, it’s time for newer issues to arise.
Think about it – as a breastfeeding mom, your entire day revolves around your baby’s feeding schedule. What’s more, she is fussy and wants to nurse after every couple of hours, which is a sign that you may be expressing less milk than needed. While this isn’t a crucial condition, it may worry you. And, we’re here to help you understand the causes, symptoms, and ways on how to increase breast milk production.
Common Causes Of Low Milk Supply:
Low milk supply can occur due to a myriad of reason. Here are some of the most common ones:
1. Hormonal Problems:
Conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), hypothyroidism, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and hypertension may affect normal hormonal function and reduce milk production.
2. Insufficient Glandular Tissue:
Some women lack sufficient glandular tissue during pregnancy, which can lead to low milk production.
3. Medications Or Herbs:
Some herbs like sage, parsley, peppermint can trigger low milk supply. Medicines like Bromocriptine and Methergine tend to stop or reduce production of breast milk.
4. Hormonal Birth Control Pills:
If you have been taking birth control pills right after delivery, they may interfere with the optimum production of breast milk.
5. Breast Surgery:
Previous breast surgeries such as reductions or enhancements are thought to be yet another reason for reduced supply of milk.
6. Other Reasons:
The capacity of the breasts is calibrated in response to the amount of milk expressed. So, if your baby consumes less milk, your body will, in turn, produce less milk.
Symptoms Of Low Milk Supply:
While there is no concrete way to check if you have a low milk supply, there are some pointers that could help you detect if you have the condition. Check if you exhibit two or more of the following symptoms:
- Your baby has trouble latching on for a sufficient period.
- Your baby cries (of hunger) every hour or a couple of hours.
- Your baby hasn’t gained weight within two weeks of birth.
- You cannot hear your baby swallowing while nursing.
- You cannot feel your milk letting down while breastfeeding your baby.
- Your baby doesn’t wet at least 4-5 diapers a day.
- Your baby spends a lesser time at the breast.
- You do not see milk at the corner’s of your baby’s mouth while nursing.
[ Read: Food To Increase Breast Milk ]
Simple Ways To Increase Breast Milk Supply:
If you think you’re baby is falling short of breast milk, don’t worry- it’s not a serious issue. All it needs is the right approach, and soon, your breastmilk supply will be back to normal. Here, we’ve listed down some simple tips on how to increase breast milk supply.
1. Monitor Your Baby’s Weight:
The best to ensure your baby gets enough milk is to monitor her weight. If she exhibits a rapid weight growth in the first couple of weeks, her growth and development are on track.
2. Nurse Often:
Waiting too long to start breastfeeding can be why you’re experiencing a reduced supply of milk. You need to start breastfeeding as soon as your baby is born; feed her often, at, least every 2-3 hours throughout the day. Nursing often is a great way to increase breastmilk production.
3. Stay Away From Alcohol And Nicotine:
No surprises here, isn’t it? Alcohol and nicotine consumption are harmful not only before and during, but also after pregnancy, specifically, while you are nursing your little one. Nicotine and alcohol restrict the breastmilk supply. These substances can pass into your baby’s body through your breastmilk and trigger developmental problems for your baby.
[ Read: Foods To Avoid While Breastfeeding ]
4. Check Your Medications:
If you have been taking medications, now’s the time to visit your doctor and check if it is interfering with your milk production. Avoid using hormonal contraceptives right after your delivery.
5. Grab The Oatmeal:
It is believed that oatmeal is extremely helpful in increasing breast milk production. Instead of using the instant variety, consider using the old fashioned oats.
6. Stay Calm And Relaxed:
Believe it or not, stress does play a huge role in reducing the supply of milk. Well, handling a baby can be a tough job, and you may not be getting enough rest, so it’s now time to get help from your hubby and make sure you sleep well and stay positive and relaxed throughout. This will help you ensure a good supply of milk.
7. Consider Pumping:
If you are a working mom, you should try establishing a pumping schedule for a smoother transition. It helps you store breast milk in larger quantities. If you are staying at home, pumping milk after breastfeeding your baby will boost your milk production.
[ Read: How To Store Breast Milk ]
8. Switch Sides:
Make sure that you feed your baby from both breasts during every nursing session.When you feel that your little one loses interest or falls asleep, it is the time to switch to another side. By doing so, breasts produce more milk and your baby empties each breast.
9. Use The Right Bra:
Wearing a tight bra that compresses your chest region or one that is rigid around the band can affect milk flow. The wrong choice of bra can lead to clogged ducts that will not produce any milk and make you uncomfortable.
10. Breast Massage:
Massaging your breast will help to boost the volume and fat percentage in your breast milk. When you are comfort nursing your baby (i.e., soothing and calming herself), you can gently massage the chest region and towards the nipples. Now wait for her to swallow the milk. Proceed to massage another area of the breast. Repeat feeding your baby.
11. Give Up Feeding Routines:
Feed your baby when she wants to feed. You can also offer the breast to your baby when you are not sure about whether she wants or not. The more you feed your baby, the more your breasts will supply milk.
12. Avoid Formula Feeds:
The more formula feed you offer your baby than breastfeeding, the less milk you will produce. Your breasts cannot make more milk, and your baby starts refusing breastmilk.
13. Eat A Healthy & Balanced Diet:
Go for a breastfeeding friendly diet. Nursing moms require more calories than non-nursing moms. They should be good calories, not the empty calories like those present in sugars, processed foods, and grain/wheat products. Your diet should include healthy fats, plenty of leafy greens, nuts, seeds and proteins.
14. Drink More Water:
Breastfeeding will make you thirsty, and your body will suffer if you do not drink enough water. Also, the milk glands cannot produce milk if you get dehydrated. So, it is always advisable to keep a water bottle and drink water while feeding your baby. Also, eat water rich foods.
You could also try using herbs and medications that improve milk supply and help regulate the body’s hormones- but do that only after your doctor is okay with it. Fenugreek and blessed thistle are some common herbs that are believed to increase breast milk production naturally. Here are a few more tips:
- Avoid skipping your baby’s breastfeeding sessions. Try to breastfeed as often as possible.
- Make sure you take optimum liquids during your post pregnancy period, particularly when you are breastfeeding, as dehydration tends to reduce the supply of milk.
Lastly, if you are still experiencing problems producing enough milk, don’t hesitate to speak to a practitioner. Your physician will be able to give you a better insight on your condition and will help you tackle your problem better. All the best!
Let us know your views on how to increase breast milk. Do share your comments below.
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