How to increase breast milk supply is a pressing issue many nursing mothers battle with, so you are not alone. Personally, I did not experience this but I have encountered many women who have, and successfully guided them on how to increase breast milk supply.
It is interesting to note that many nursing mothers – and women alike, do not know that one can actually increase breast milk supply through various methods. Also, there have also been occasions where low breast milk supply is as a result of late breast feeding, or when the baby does not latch correctly on the nipple.
In many cases, nursing mothers experience low breast milk supply within the first few days – or weeks of breastfeeding – it is normal. However, it is not normal – and rare if a mother produces less breast milk than the baby actually requires for optimal development and growth.
Reasons for Low Breast Milk Supply
Now that we have established that low breast milk supply is a common occurrence, what are the reasons for the condition? There are many reasons why a nursing mother may experience low breast milk supply, and we have highlighted some of the reasons below; check them out:
- When there is a delay in breastfeeding after delivery: This usually occurs in situations when the mother or baby needs special attention after the delivery and needs to be admitted into a separate ward.
- Intake of Contraceptive Pills: A nursing mother may experience low breast milk supply after delivery if she has earlier engaged in administering oral contraceptive pills that contain estrogen, or elements that tend to boost the estrogen hormone.
- Poor Latching: Since the position of the nipple outlet differs from woman to woman, there are occasions when the low breast milk supply is due to the fact that the baby did not connect well with the nipple. This can also be as a result of flat or inverted nipples on the part of the nursing mother or a lip or tongue tie on the part of the baby.
- When the Nursing Mother is Unwell: In a situation when the nursing mother is unwell or is suffering from common conditions such as blood loss, retained placental tissue, or mastitis, low breast milk supply may be experienced.
- Feeding Schedule: When a mother decides to schedule the feeding time for a baby, rather than feed the baby when they need it, a low breast milk supply can be experienced. The human system is structured in a way that the mother’s organs produce milk on demand for the baby.
- Substituting Breast Milk with Baby Formula: When a nursing mother replaces breast milk for baby formula, the inconsistency may affect the milk supply.
- Smoking and Heavy Drinking: When a nursing mother engages in smoking and heavy drinking, it could affect the breast milk supply made available for the baby. This is one of the numerous reasons why smoking and drinking by nursing mothers is highly discouraged.
- Dummies and Nipple Shields: When a nursing mother has engaged in the use of nipple shields and dummies for far too long, it could affect the free flow and supply of breast milk.
- Medical Condition: Low breast milk supply can also be as a result of certain medical conditions such as diabetes and pre-diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, hypothyroidism, etc.
How to Stimulate Breast Milk Production After Delivery
There are different ways you can stimulate breast milk production after delivery to save your baby the stress in feeding and the risk of malnutrition. You can either carry out these procedures in the hospital after delivery or when you return home and in the comfort of an environment, you are used to.
Below, we have highlighted 5 ways a nursing mother can stimulate breast milk production after delivery.
6 Ways to Stimulate Breast Milk Production After Delivery
1. Drink Water – A lot of Water
Yes, you can stimulate breast milk by increasing your water intake. As you should already know, breast milk contains a high water concentration, so it is a no-brainer that the more water you drink, the more quantity of breast milk you stand to produce.
2. Get as Much Sleep as Possible
According to reports, many nursing mothers have noticed that they produce more breast milk after a long rest. Sleep offers nursing mothers the much-needed opportunity to relax and enable the milk-producing hormones to perform their functions.
3. Massage Your Breasts
Nursing mothers are often advised to massage their breasts often – especially if they are experiencing low breast milk production or pains around the breast area. Massaging the breasts can help to stimulate the milk-producing glands and receptors to perform better.
4. Use a Grade Pump
Grade pumps are often available in hospitals and can help stimulate the breasts for higher milk production and extract milk from the breasts. After the breast milk extractions, the nursing mother will be able to produce a larger amount of breast milk.
5. Listen to Soothing Music
As the famous quote goes – music is food for the soul. It can also help the nursing mother relax and enable the breast milk-producing hormones to work more efficiently. As you should know, a lot of issues and conditions can be solved psychologically.
6. Frequently Express Milk
As a nursing mother, you should never be discouraged to express milk, even if you are having low breast milk production. For a start, it is advised that you breastfeed or pump every 2 to 3 hours to work your body system to recognize the need for more breast milk production for your baby.
Tips to increase Breast Milk Before Baby is Born
Yes, there are steps you can take to increase breast milk production before your baby is born. It is important that you take these steps, especially when you have experienced a low breast milk supply from a previous baby.
Below are some tested and trusted tips that can help you increase breast milk production before your baby is born; check them out.
- Make sure to switch your baby from one breast to the other when you breastfeed
- Be conscious of how your baby latches on your breast when they are sucking
- Make it a point of duty not to go more than 5 hours without breastfeeding your baby after you deliver
- Be prepared to take it upon yourself to feed your baby frequently
- Make sure to empty your breasts after each feed or pump session
- Learn to press – or compress your breasts when your baby is feeding
- Be prepared to rest between feeds consciously
- Before delivery, make sure you are drinking a lot of water and eating balanced diets.
What to Drink to Increase Breast Milk?
As we have rightly highlighted earlier in the article, staying hydrated is essential for breast milk production. Another exciting thing about breastfeeding is that it leaves you very thirsty and in need of a drink.
On many occasions, you would need something more than water. Yes, your body will crave for something different to quench the thirst. But what can you drink as a nursing mother that will be healthy, quench your thirst and contribute to increasing your milk production?
Below, we have highlighted 5 liquids you can drink to increase your breast milk production.
It’s got to be water, right? Water will always be on the top of the list because it is the major component of breast milk; it quenches thirst and is healthy for both mother and baby. Except when you are sure to have had enough water for the moment, you should always take water.
2. Herbal Tea
Herbal tea is not only soothing, I find it very delicious. However, you should make sure that you are fully aware of the components of your herbal tea, as some herbs can be harmful to both you and the baby.
3. Infused Water
Infused water is fast becoming a thing – and who would complain? It is a whole different feeling when you put a slice of lemon, cucumber, strawberry, or raspberry in your glass of water. I prefer to use lemon, though, and I must confess that I have never turned back since I first tried it.
Whether fruit or vegetable juice, you should take 100% juice without added sugar, preservatives, or supplements. As a nursing mother, juice can be a great supplement to water – but should not replace it entirely. However, it is healthy and will help increase your breast milk production.
Wait a minute! Drinking alcohol in large quantity can have adverse effects on you as a nursing mother, including decreasing your breast milk supply – as we discussed earlier. However, recent studies have shown that drinking beer in moderation can help to improve breast milk supply.
Home Remedies to Increase Breast Milk
If you know me, you will know how much I love home remedies – and enjoy writing about them. I believe home remedies and homemade remedies are the best bet for nursing mothers and newborn babies.
There are various home remedies that help to increase breast milk production. Below, we have highlighted our best seven; check them out:
Many people do like garlic, and if you are one of such persons, you should reconsider your preferences. Garlic has numerous benefits, including the increase of breast milk supply in nursing mothers, due to its lactogenic properties. In addition, if you cannot chew it because of the smell, you can add it to your meals.
2. Fenugreek Seeds
When boiled or soaked in hot water for a long time, fenugreek seeds can make a good tea which helps in increasing breast milk supply in nursing mothers. Drink the tea every morning during the breastfeeding stage.
3. Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds also make an excellent tea solution when soaked in hot water. Ensure to cover the lid and drink the tea two times every day during the breastfeeding phase.
The juice from fresh drumsticks can increase breast milk production. Extract the juice and drink a half glass of the drumstick juice two times a day for the breastfeeding period.
5. Cumin Seeds
Cumin seed is a regular mention when we talk of homemade remedies for nursing mothers. To increase breast milk production, mix one teaspoon of cumin seed powder with one teaspoon of sugar in a glass of warm water. Drink this solution daily before bed.
Mix a pinch of cinnamon powder with ½ teaspoon of honey and some milk daily before going to bed every evening. It is best if the milk is lukewarm to guarantee more effectiveness.
Basil leaves are a good remedy for various conditions, including increasing breast milk production in nursing mothers. Boil the 5-6 Basil leaves for about 2 minutes and mix with honey to prepare the solution. Drink the solution two times daily for the period.
Foods that Promote Milk Production
As a nursing mother, there are some foods that promote milk supply production. We have listed a few for your advice. Check them out:
1. Whole Grains
You can never go wrong with whole grains, whether you are a nursing mother or not. Among many things, they contain properties that support the production of breast milk production. There are also many options of whole grains you can choose from, including oatmeal, whole grain brown rice, barley, to mention but a few.
2. Dark Green Vegetables
When it comes to vegetables, dark green vegetables are the best – quote me anywhere! They are very rich in nutrients, and you can choose from broccoli, alfalfa, kale, lettuce, and spinach to increase breast milk production. In addition, dark green vegetables contain phytoestrogens which enable the increased production of breast milk.
Although not very popular, Chickpeas have been an old remedy for pregnant women for increased breast milk production since ancient Egypt. Chickpeas are type of legume that is very high in protein and estrogen – that are known to be responsible for the production of galactagogue. If you are not comfortable eating beans as a stand-alone meal, you can use them as toppings for your salads to dry them as part of a dried fruits snack or diet.
Nuts are great, but Almonds are super great! I especially enjoy eating my almonds raw because they are richer and healthier in protein, vitamins, and calcium. In addition, eating almonds or drinking milk is common in nursing mothers, as it is a tested and trusted way to increase breast milk production.