Breastfeeding has become very common these days, especially among mothers who want to give their babies the best start in life. But sometimes breastfeeding isn’t enough to satisfy baby’s hunger, leading to frequent feedings throughout the day. This can cause problems such as fatigue, back pain, and even depression.
Breastfeeding is known to provide numerous health benefits for both mother and child. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, followed by continued breastfeeding along with complementary foods until two years old or beyond.
Breastfeeding is also associated with better cognitive development in children. In addition, it helps prevent obesity and diabetes later in life. There are several ways to boost your supply of breast milk, including drinking plenty of water, taking fenugreek supplements, and using herbal remedies.
Reasons for low milk supply
There are many reasons why a woman might not have enough milk to meet her baby’s needs. Some of them include:
• Lack of sleep – Breastfeeding during the night can be difficult if you don’t get enough rest. If this happens frequently, it could lead to low milk production.
• Stress – When you feel stressed out, your body releases hormones that make you produce less milk than usual. It may take time before you notice any effects from stress on your milk supply.
• Hormonal changes – During pregnancy, the hormone prolactin increases. Prolactin causes the breasts to secrete more milk. After birth, the hormone progesterone decreases, which leads to lower milk production.
• Medications – Certain medications can affect your ability to lactate. They include anti-depressants, antibiotics, blood pressure drugs, and some over-the-counter cold medicines. Talk to your doctor about what kind of medication you should avoid while nursing.
• Diet – A poor diet can decrease your milk supply. Foods like caffeine, alcohol, and sugar can interfere with your milk production. You should also try to eat healthy snacks between meals.
How to increase breast milk
The following tips will help you increase your milk supply naturally:
1. Drink lots of water
Drinking at least eight glasses of water each day is important for maintaining proper hydration levels. Water helps keep your body working properly so you can produce adequate amounts of milk.
2. Eat well
Eating a balanced diet is essential for producing enough breast milk. Include protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fats in your daily meal plan. Try to consume around 300 calories per day.
3. Get regular exercise
Exercise boosts your energy level, which makes it easier to focus on other things besides feeding your baby. Exercise also improves circulation, which allows nutrients to reach your breasts.
4. Sleep well
Sleep deprivation can cause hormonal imbalances that result in decreased milk production. Make sure you get enough quality sleep every night.
If you’re feeling anxious or stressed, it can negatively impact your milk supply. Take deep breaths and relax whenever possible.
6. Avoid smoking
Smoking affects your immune system, making it harder to fight off infections. Smoking also reduces oxygen flow to your lungs, which can hinder your ability to breathe deeply. This can reduce your milk supply.
7. Use lanolin
Lanolin is an oil extracted from sheep wool. It contains fatty acids that can improve skin health and promote hair growth. It can also help relieve dryness and itching caused by breastfeeding. Apply lanolin cream to your nipples once or twice a week.
8. Practice self-massage
Self-massaging stimulates your lymphatic system, which helps remove toxins from your body. Massaging your breasts regularly can help boost your milk supply.
9. Focus on relaxation
Try taking a warm bath or shower after feeding your baby. The heat from the water will help relax your muscles.
10. Watch your weight
Being overweight can interfere with your ability to nurse effectively. Excess fat can make it difficult for your body to release hormones needed to stimulate milk production.
What foods help produce breast milk?
Certain foods can help increase your milk supply. These include:
• Dairy products
Milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, and cottage cheese are all good sources of calcium, vitamin D, and protein.
Soybeans contain high levels of lecithin, which may help prevent premature letdown.
Nuts such as almonds and cashews have been found to be effective in increasing milk supply. They contain zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and copper.
Eggs are rich in choline, which can help increase milk supply. Choline is used to synthesize breast milk.
• Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, antioxidants, and various nutrients. These substances help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and boost immunity.
• Whole grains
Whole grains like brown rice, oats, quinoa, barley, and wheat are packed full of nutrients. They also contain more fiber than refined grains.
Signs your baby isn’t getting enough milk
Your baby may not be receiving enough breast milk if he or she shows any of these signs:
• Cuts, bruises, or sores on his or her mouth
• Frequent vomiting
• Poor appetite
• Skin problems such as diaper rash or cradle cap
• Unexplained fever
• Yellowing of the eyes or skin
• Dry cough
• Slow breathing
• Vomiting more than three times a day
How do I know that baby is getting enough milk?
You can tell whether your baby is getting enough milk by observing how much he or she drinks during feedings. If your baby seems satisfied when nursing, then you are probably providing him or her with sufficient quantities of breast milk. However, if your baby has difficulty swallowing due to a sore throat or stomachache, this could indicate that he or she needs more milk.
How long does it take my milk to come in?
It takes about four weeks for your milk to fully mature and become ready for your baby to drink. During this time, your breasts produce colostrum, a thick, yellowish liquid that protects your baby while he or she is still inside your womb. Colostrum is rich in antibodies and proteins that protect against infection. After your milk comes in, it becomes thinner and less abundant. You should continue to express milk until your baby is at least two months old.
What happens if my baby doesn’t want to eat?
Some babies don’t like to suckle. They may prefer to have their mothers give them formula instead. Try offering your baby a bottle of expressed milk first. He or she may enjoy the taste and texture. If your baby continues to refuse the bottle, try giving him or her a pacifier.
How often should I pump?
Pumping every few hours can help you get the most milk out of each session. Pumping too frequently can cause painful engorgement (overly full breasts), so try pumping only once or twice per day.
How do I store breast milk?
Store breast milk in clean glass bottles in the refrigerator. Don’t use plastic containers because they might leach into your milk. Breast milk should be stored in the fridge for up to seven days.
Can I freeze breast milk?
Yes, but you need to thaw frozen breast milk before using it. To thaw, place the container in a sink filled with cold tap water. Stir gently, and let sit for 30 minutes. Then, transfer the contents to another container and refrigerate.
When to seek help?
If you notice any changes in your baby’s health after birth, talk to your doctor right away. Your doctor will perform an exam, check your baby’s weight gain, and test for infections. The doctor may also recommend blood tests to determine if your baby is developing normally.
Breastfeeding is not just for moms who have no other choice. It is the best way to nourish your child. Breast milk contains all the nutrients needed to grow healthy and strong. When you nurse, you are helping your baby develop physically and mentally. And breastfeeding helps establish good bonding between mother and child.