If you feel like your milk supply is low and your baby just isn’t getting enough, here are a few tips you can try to increase your supply. If you have any serious concerns about your baby’s weight or the number of wet nappies please contact your Doctor or Plunket nurse. For any breastfeeding concerns contact your local lactation consultant.
I found our local lactation consultants to be beneficial. They were reassuring; they motivated me to keep going, they checked my babies latch and gave me pointers on ways to increase my milk supply.
I spoke with our local lactation consultant and Plunket nurse to gain some advice to share with you all if you feel like you need to boost your supply.
Ranked at number 1 out of the tips, Breastfeed frequently
This is simply because the more you empty milk from your breasts, the more your body will make.
On the days when it feels like baby wants to feed all the time, push through. Allow baby to cluster feed which will help increase your supply and hopefully the times between feeds will gradually increase over time. The days may feel long but try use this time to rest if you can. (I know it’s not always that easy if you have another child running around climbing the furniture).
You may hear comments such as “baby shouldn’t feed that often”, “you need a routine”, and “you should space out your feeds”. Block out the noise and follow your gut and of course professional advice. Cluster feeding is normal. I remember thinking, “something is wrong, this isn’t right; babies feed every 3 hours don’t they?” I soon learnt that was not the case, particularly in the early days. There is nothing wrong with routine when baby is a bit older and you have got your supply sorted. Every baby is different. Some feed slowly, some are very fast. Some have lots of small feeds, others have fewer bigger feeds. As long as your baby is putting on weight and looks healthy there is nothing to worry about.The more practice your baby has at breastfeeding, the more efficient he or she will be at emptying the breast.
Offer both breasts at each feeding
Feed until the first breast feels empty, then offer the second breast until your baby has had enough. On the next feed start on the breast baby last fed on. This is to ensure that baby is getting the right balance of thirst-quenching fore-milk and rich hind-milk. Don’t worry if your breasts feel uneven. I found putting a hair tie on my wrist to show which side I had just fed from quite helpful.
Do you have a good latch? Ensuring baby has a good latch is important. If breastfeeding is painful and you feel you might not have the latch right, contact your local lactation consultant. They will check this for you and give you advice. Plunketline run a free breastfeeding video-conferencing service run by Lactation Consultants. You can book an appointment by calling Plunketline on 0800 933 922.
“Nose to nipple, tummy to mummy” is a nice and easy way to remember when holding and latching your newborn.
Pump to boost supply. If you can find the time, you can pump for 10 minutes from each breast; this will help increase your supply. It goes back to the basic principle, the more milk you empty from the breast the more milk your body will make. It is recommended to pump either 1 hour before feeding or 1 hour after feeding your baby. 1 hour after babies first morning feed is a good time.
Self care. As a mum of a newborn our focus is our baby. In our spare time we often think “agh the washing, the house cleaning, I better get on to that”. Self care is important. When you get a moment, you need to rest. You need to sleep. I’m a mum of two, I get it. Catching up on sleep was never a priority, even when my baby was up every hour of the night, there were too many other things on my to do list but occasionally I would give in to my exhaustion; I would relax on the couch and have a moment of me time, of rest. I probably should have done this more when I had low supply as stress and tiredness can affect your milk supply, so rest and relax when you can and don’t feel guilty about it. Breastfeeding consumes a lot of your energy and you are probably already running on empty if you are up throughout the night.
Eat well and stay hydrated. You are busy, you are often on the couch breastfeeding and preparing food can sometimes be a struggle, especially if you have a baby that doesn’t like being put down. (I loved my baby carrier for times like this). To have a good supply of milk you need to be eating enough food, and the right types of foods. It is recommended to have 3 regular meals a day plus two snacks. I found I often missed snack time, so I started keeping easy snacks in my feeding chair. And at one point when I had a very colicky baby I made myself a lunchbox at night as some days I just couldn’t get around to preparing my lunch and I would end up snacking on muesli bars and convenient food rather than high protein and high fat foods.
Here are some great foods to help increase your supply:
- Oats, you can make porridge for breakfast, add some oats to a smoothie or make a big batch of homemade muesli bar.
- Avocado, if you don’t like the taste, add some to a smoothie, you can’t even taste it and makes a lovely creamy consistency.
- Nuts and seeds, have a bag of nuts to snack on beside your feeding chair, make some homemade muesli bars, peanut butter toast or my favourite peanut butter spread on banana. I know it sounds odd but try it!
Chelsea Winter has a couple of great homemade muesli bar recipes if you have her recipe books. You can make it in a roasting dish and it can last for a month in the fridge. I had a piece everyday to keep my supply up.
- Lactation cookies which have brewer’s yeast in them to boost supply. You can buy pre mix of cookie mixture online or make yourself.
- Protein – eggs, meat, protein shake, hummus
- Fenugreek herbal supplement
Aim for at least 2litres of water a day. This amount should increase on warm days.
Last piece of advice, boost your calories around 4pm before baby has their afternoon cluster feed. Make yourself a smoothie or something high in calories.
Hang in there mumma, you’re doing great!
“When we encourage new parents to ‘treasure these moments because they don’t last forever’ we need to remember to also reassure them that they will survive these moments because they don’t last forever.
Parenting is hard and the struggles can sometimes feel like they overshadow the joys. Knowing that struggling is normal and will pass helps us get through the hard times so we can truly treasure the good ones.” – LR Knost
Plunketline – call free 0800 933 922 for 24/7 support for any mother and child regardless if Plunket is your Well Child provider.
Alisha Harper, Flourish Maternity