When you want to breastfeed so bad it can be hard to think about the fact that you may not have a good breastmilk supply.
The good news is most moms will supply enough milk for their baby with proper hydration and nutrition. It’s not as common as we think for a women to have a low breastmilk supply issue. Often the cause something as fixable as an improper latch, or not enough water.
Whether you’re worrying about the possibility before your baby even arrives, or you are currently breastfeeding and think you may have a low supply, it can be very stressful to think your baby is not getting the nutrition he or she needs from you.
However, I’m here to give you some helpful tips on increasing your supply, and making sure it stays substantial enough to feed your baby.
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HOW TO KNOW YOUR SUPPLY IS LOW
First of all, how can you tell if you really do have a low breastmilk supply?
Studies have shown that it is rare for a mother to have a low supply. If she does, the issue is usually either a bad latch or your baby may have a tongue tie. Either of these can be dealt with and you can still breastfeed your baby if you choose.
The easiest way to tell if you do have a low supply is your baby’s weight. If he or she is not gaining at a good rate (for your baby, every baby is different, talk to your doctor/pediatrician), there may be something that needs to be dealt with.
It is common for a baby to lose a little bit of weight in the first week or so of birth, but they usually gain it back pretty quickly.
Another tell could be nipple pain. Generally it may be a little painful in the first few weeks to breastfeed, as you and your baby learn. However, breastfeeding is not necessarily supposed to hurt! With a proper latch, it can be pain free.
If you determine you do have a low milk supply, here are some ways to increase it and keep it in good standing.
Drink Lots of Water
Hydration is the key to a good milk supply.
We all know our body is made of up of mostly water and we need it to function properly. Add feeding a whole other growing human being to the list of bodily functions, and you can imagine how much water your body would need.
When I was breastfeeding my baby I would get insanely thirsty all the time. Ask most moms who breastfeed and they will most likely tell you the same thing.
Our bodies were telling us just how important water is while you’re breastfeeding. So make sure to keep hydrated!
How cute is this water bottle for breastfeeding mamas!? “Drink more water, make more milk!”
Skin to Skin Contact with Your Baby
Skin to skin contact with your baby, especially right after birth, is so beneficial for many different reasons. One of those reasons is getting a good start to breastfeeding.
Skin to skin contact with your baby releases hormones that help your milk flow more easily. When your baby is placed on your chest after birth, he or she will most likely start “rooting” towards your breasts right away. This means they’ll be able to smell your breastmilk and start looking for it to feed.
Other benefits to skin to skin contact with your baby include stabilizing your baby’s body temperature, heart rate, and blood sugar levels, as well as relieving stress for both you and your baby.
Who knew baby snuggles would be so beneficial!
Eat Lots of Healthy Foods
Eating lots of good food is crucial to increasing and keeping a good breastmilk supply.
Not only is it important to eat healthy foods, but to be increasing the amount of calories you would normally eat. Your body is burning a lot more of them to make milk.
Here are some foods that naturally help you make more milk
Foods that Increase Your Breastmilk Supply
- Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, broccoli)
- Brewer’s Yeast (I used to add this to oatmeal cookies or smoothies! It increased my supply like crazy!)
Lactation Cookies to Try
Lactation cookies are wonderful to snack on, especially being a hungry milk-making mama. There are a bunch of recipes out there to try making your own.
You can also buy them pre-made or in mixes that are easy to whip up and bake.
Here are a few cookies and powders you can add to cookies or smoothies to try!
Another thing you can try is breastmilk tea.
Earth Mama Organics Milkmaid Tea is a wonderful milk booster. It’s full of a whole bunch of awesome things that naturally help increase your milk supply, such as fenugreek, fennel and milk thistle (natural herbs).
Plus it’s tasty!
Nurse On Demand
You may see and hear things about feeding your baby on a certain schedule. Unless your doctor says otherwise, the best way to feed your baby is on demand.
It can be hard to read about feeding schedules or hear about how often your baby ‘should or shouldn’t’ nurse, especially if your baby doesn’t follow these schedules.
However, every baby is different! The reality is, it’s pretty common for babies to be feeding as often as every hour and a half or so, especially in the beginning. Cluster feeds can happen pretty often. Some babies like to snack and others will fill up more and feed less often. My son went through phases of both.
These feeds help increase your milk supply! However your baby likes to eat, let tell you how much milk they want and need and your body will follow suit.
Pump to Increase your Supply
Increasing your supply by pumping acts as your baby nursing more often. So the more you pump, the more you’ll be telling your body you need to make.
If you’re looking for an electric pump, I suggest the Spectra S2. It’s lightweight, portable, quiet, and has adjustable suction levels to match what you need. You can use it on one side while you’re nursing or on both sides.
If you want a manual pump, the Phillips Avent Manual Pump is great. I used it on one side every so often while my son nursed on the other to build up a bit of a freezer stash. Its wonderful for bringing along on short trips if you don’t want to bring an electric one around.
I also can’t say enough good things about the Haakaa! It won’t help you increase your supply, but it’s nice for helping you build up a freezer stash and keep some extra milk on hand. You attach it to one side while your baby nurses on the other and it catches the let down on that side, so you don’t waste any of that precious milk.
Some insurance companies will give you a free breast pump so make sure to check that out.
Take a Breastfeeding Class
One of the best things I ever did for my breastfeeding journey was take a breastfeeding class. I HIGHLY recommend the Milkology Ultimate Breastfeeding Class.
One of the biggest issues that causes low breastmilk supply (and really any other breastfeeding issues) is a bad latch. This class teaches you how to get a good latch with your baby, as well as any other issues that may be causing a bad latch.
The Milkology Ultimate Breastfeeding Class also teaches you how to tell whether or not you are dealing with a low breastmilk supply issues, how to deal with it, and how to know if it’s helping.
This class teaches you so much about breastfeeding at such a low price, you really can’t pass it up! You can start it even before your baby arrives to make sure you get a good head start on breastfeeding.
See a Lactation Consultant
I sought out a Lactation Consultant, as well as doing many of these other things while I was breastfeeding my son. It was incredibly helpful.
Often times a lactation consultant can see some issues that you don’t see. They can help with things like how to get a proper latch and can even keep an eye on your baby’s weight for you.
Talk to your doctor about Lactation Consultants in your area, or find one online! The Milkology Ultimate Breastfeeding Class is taught by a certified Lactation Consultant, so you can be sure if you take the class (which is yours to keep for life once you buy it) you are getting correct, studied information.
Good luck mama! Remember, breastfeeding may be natural but it doesn’t often come naturally to mamas or babies! It takes practice, patience and learning. You got this!