If your supply of breast milk is low, it can usually be increased by taking a few easy steps. Confirming your breastfeeding technique and breastfeeding more often are the two most important actions necessary to establish and maintain a good milk supply. Before you look into alternative treatments, such as herbs or medication, try these approaches to increase your milk supply naturally.
Evaluate Your Baby’s Latch
Make sure your baby is latched on correctly. This is the most effective way to increase your supply, and it is often the main reason why the milk supply isn’t as abundant as it can be. Without a proper latch, the baby cannot adequately remove the milk from your breast. When the milk is drained from your breast, it stimulates your body to produce more. If you are not sure how to determine if your baby is latched on correctly, talk to your doctor or contact a local lactation consultant.
Breastfeed, Breastfeed, Breastfeed
Nurse your baby very often. The best way to increase your milk supply is to increase the demand. In the first few weeks after your baby is born, you should be breastfeeding every two to three hours around the clock. If more than 3 ½ hours have passed since the start of the last feeding, you should wake your baby up to nurse. Even if you have an older baby who has been breastfeeding well for a while, increasing the number and length of breastfeeding sessions should help to boost your supply.
Use Breast Compression
Breast compression is a technique that is used to help drain the milk from your breast, improve your let-down response, and encourage a sleepy baby to keep sucking at the breast. These actions will help foster an increase in your milk supply.
Stimulate Your Breasts
Use a breast pump or hand expression to continue to stimulate your breasts after you finish breastfeeding the baby. This will tell your body that you need more milk.
Use A Supplemental Nursing System
A supplemental nursing system can be used to encourage the baby to suck at your breasts even when there is no more milk. If the baby gets frustrated because the milk flow has slowed or stopped, he or she may refuse to keep sucking at the breast. By using a supplemental nursing system with previously expressed breast milk or even a formula supplement, you may be able to get the baby to suck longer at the breast. More stimulation at the breast will help increase your milk supply.
Make Some Lifestyle Changes
You may not realize that some of the things you might be doing every day are affecting your milk supply. Things that decrease your milk supply include smoking, taking the birth control pill, stress, and fatigue. A few changes to your daily routine may help increase your supply.Sources:
Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession. Mosby. Philadelphia. 1999.
Newman, Jack, MD, Pitman, Theresa. The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers. Three Rivers Press. New York. 2006.