Last Updated on September 26, 2021
Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing, but not all moms have the same experience. Some find it very easy and others struggle to produce enough milk for their baby. If you are one of those mothers who is having difficulties with low milk supply, this article will help you figure out how to increase your breastmilk production naturally so that you can continue breastfeeding without any worries!
How do you know if you have low milk supply?
After giving birth, increasing milk supply is one of the top things moms really focus on to satisfy their breastfed babies. Those breastfeeding women may constantly worry if they have enough breast milk. However, do not stress out too quickly before checking these signs of low milk production.
1. Your baby is not gaining weight
A newborn can lose up to seven percent of its birth-weight during the first few days, but after that they should be back on track with their milk intake. If your baby has trouble gaining sufficient weight in specific time period even though you’ve increased the number of feedings a day, the high chance is that either your milk supply or milk quality is not enough to meet the demand of your baby.
Many mothers often wonder why some babies gain weight faster than others while all were born at the same weight. In fact, not all breast milk is the same and its calorie content may differ from one mom to another. Therefore, it could be possible that your baby requires more milk than others.
2. Your milk supply is less than 1 liter per day
If you’re breastfeeding and not producing more than one liter of milk per day, there may be signs that your milk supply is low. When women start breastfeeding, they may produce not that much, especially with the first baby. However, after the first few weeks, the breast milk supply should reach that amount because you baby nurses more.
3. Your nursing session is too short or long
Some moms have a hard time getting their little ones to nurse. On one hand, your baby is less interested in nursing sessions, falls asleep easily while nursing. So you can only nurse for shorter periods of time than usual. On the other hand, your baby spends more than 20 minutes at a time to get enough milk. This behavior change could be the possible signs of low milk supply.
4. Your baby prefer infant formula milk
Most babies like breastfeeding by nature but if you find out your baby’s preference of formula milk can be the sign that he or she not getting enough breastmilk because your supply is low. Sometimes it can be a sign that your baby is not getting enough breastmilk. If it is this case, the reason why your baby is not very interested in breast milk is either it takes more her effort to suck out the milk or the breast milk doesn’t satisfy her like the bootle in both milk’s volume and quality.
5. Your baby is cranky or fussy
Have you ever noticed your baby are not satisfied after nursing and seems hungry again soon afterwards? This is a sign that you are having less milk supply than you need. Sometimes, the baby even gets very cranky and fussy at a certain in a day, especially before nap or bedtime. Your baby’s feeding demand’s is not being met when her tummy is not full.
6. The number of wet diapers per day
On the average, a baby needs to wet at least five diapers a day, and as many as six or seven. When the baby has no healthy issue like fever, constipation and others, it’s his nature instinct to consume more breast milk to grow up. If you notice you baby is wetting less than that, it’s time for concern. It may be due to low milk supply.
Why does your milk production not working very well?
While it is true that low milk supply can be caused by a number of various factors including hormonal imbalances, diet, resting physical issues with the mother, breastfeeding technique, sometimes there is nothing wrong at all! Listed here are some of the most common recorded reasons:
1. Low-birth weight infants
When the babies are born immature or low-birth weight, they are not ready or do not have enough power to suckle efficiently. Their stomach are extremely tiny and can not take in too much breast milk in the early days. Your body only get signals to produce milk when the baby breastfeed. As a result, cluster feeding happens more often and it is not easy for you to increase your milk supply.
2. Lack of glandular tissue
It is known as milk-producing glands. In this tissue, you can find a gland called alveolus that is responsible for milk production after pregnancy and childbirth. The process of glandular tissue involves breast nipple stimulation during lactation which impacts the gland to produce or secrete adequate amounts of milk. Women who naturally suffer from inefficient glandular tissues are likely to produce less breast milk.
3. Taking prescription medication
Prescript medication can sometimes affect the amount of breast milk that you produce as possible side effects. The most common cases are the mothers who get C-section deliveries and sometimes take antibiotics, which will suppress breast milk production. Some women are also given oxytocin to help them deliver the placenta faster after birth, but this medication may have an effect on how much milk they produce too. The commonly used anti-depressants could also have a negative impact on the breast milk production as they can cause problems with lactation.
In addition, women who are taking birth control pills should be careful as well as sometimes these medications will stop your ovaries from producing estrogen and progesterone which is needed for normal functioning of breasts’ glands. This means that you won’t be able to produce as much milk as you would like.
4. Previous breast surgery
Having breast surgery may cause you trouble in producing more milk. However this does not mean that you don’t have a healthy milk supply. You may have to work harder in order to ensure your baby’s needs are met but it is possible.
5. One-sided breastfeeding or Non-sequential breast expression
One-sided breastfeeding is one of the reasons for low milk production. If you notice that your second breast produces less than half as much as the first, the high chance is that you have the habit of feeding your baby mostly with one breast. Gradually, your baby will prefer only one certain nipple during feedings, leaving out the other one being drained dry. The nipple becomes dominant provides more comfort and satisfaction while nursing on them compared with their second counterpart. After a while, it would be difficult for you to continue breastfeeding both breasts together during one session.
6. Your baby’s feeding preferences
Sometimes this could just happen in breastfeeding babies when they want to breastfeed constantly because their tummy doesn’t process food very well in early life. This leads to more frequent feeding which takes away from time your body needs to make healthy amounts of breastmilk.
How to increase your breast milk production?
1. Take a breastfeeding class
Join in a breastfeeding class, you can learn about the breastfeeding process and common challenges and get guided from a lactation specialist or other professional who specializes in breast milk production. You will also be able to meet with other moms that have been through similar experiences which is very helpful towards building support systems for yourself.
2. Have skin-to-skin contact with your baby
Most of the lactation consultant will advise you to feed with your baby immediately or about an hour after giving birth. When you place your baby directly on top of your naked chest, hormones called prolactin and oxytoxin are stimulated. They are the ones helping your milk ducts release good milk supply and promote optimum breastfeeding then. You can keep doing this as long as you are not comfortable with the weight of your baby.
3. Do simultaneous breast expression
For mothers who need to be away from their babies for a long period, pumping or expressing breastmilk is highly recommended as this will keep your supply running even without breastfeeding sessions with your baby.
When doing this, try to use breast pump and your own hands to stimulate your breast. While pumping the first breast, express the other one. you can express milk before your baby awakens in the morning. You can schedule a pumping time after work or during lunch break to get more expressed milk for each session.
If you have limited access with hand expression while using pump, choose dual-breast pumps instead so both hands are free while pumping one breast only. The expressed milk could be preserved in the freezer for later use, in case you less milk or you can even donate to mothers who do not have enough breast milk for their newborn babies.
4. Increase pumping sessions
If you have a sleepy baby, you milk supply will drop because milk production is triggered by efficient milk removal. You can increase more breast milk with a breast pump and use power pumping technique to remove milk at least once every two hours.
The best time for you to do it is when your baby is asleep. Milk supply increases if you follow these following steps:
- Do breast pumping or hand expression for 15 minutes
- Then rest without milk removal for 30 mins
- Repeat these steps at least three times throughout your waking hours. While doing this method it’s also important that you drink lots of water.
It is recommended that you also feed your baby in between power pumping sessions to stimulate milk production and maintain it at the high end of normal range, especially if your baby is younger than six months old.
5. Relax and rest
Try to sleep during the day when your baby sleeps and in the night when they sleep as well. Getting at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep a day if it is possible for you. Make sure that there is enough darkness or complete darkness while sleeping so that melatonin can be released which helps with milk production.
If you baby is awake at night and demand for breastfeeding, try different nursing positions where you can have more release from pressure on your breasts such as lying down. You may realize that this way will help better than being seated or reclining back against something like a pillow. As long as you put your breast correctly in the baby’s mouth, you can let the baby feed himself while you can keep sleeping.
6. Have a healthy diet
Never forget to drink plenty of fluids (water, fruit juice and herbal tea) to stay hydrated and make sure your diet is healthy (full of protein, calcium and vitamins). You can try to add on these food below to produce more milk:
- Brewer’s yeast: Ideally, every nursing mum should consume at least 250 mg of it per day (one tablespoon). It provides an abundance of B-complex vitamins which help to increase milk production. It also contains a significant amount of the mineral chromium that is important for lactation as well as being effective against premenstrual syndrome symptoms such as depression, irritability and mood swings. Moreover, it have been used for centuries because they boost immune system function so you can stay healthy all year round!
- Wheat germ: If the above yeast does not appeal to your taste buds try consuming wheat germ instead. One tablespoon daily will do just fine too. Wheatgerm is a good source of protein and essential fatty acids which are necessary if you want to boost your milk supply. It is also a great natural energy booster as it contains B vitamins, vitamin E and magnesium.
- Lactation cookies: You can also try lactation cookies to boost your breast milk supply. These healthy and tasty treats contain brewer’s yeast, brewer’s yeast extracts, oat bran, wheat germ, flaxseeds and molasses which are all great sources of B vitamins that help to generate more breast milk.
- Fenugreek tea : This is a great herbal tonic that has been used for centuries if moms want to have more milk. It contains phytoestrogens and lignans (phytochemicals) which are known to help improve your prolactin levels through stimulation of estrogen receptors in mammary tissue. It should be consumed in the first few weeks since it takes time for these phytochemicals to accumulate in the body.
All of these above are great source of nutrition for nursing mums to increase your milk supply. Remember that you have the right to ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is anything in these products which might be harmful for breastfeeding babies since they are usually more sensitive than adults.
7. Use hands-free pumping bra
As a nursing mothers, you should wear comfortable bras that are easy to use during feedings. The above suggested one is a good suggestion to boost your milk production because you can do other things while feeding or exclusively pumping. As an added bonus, it also allows easy access for massaging and stimulating letdowns which help boost lactation even more!
8. Visit your lactation consultant
If you have given lots of efforts to boost your milk supply but you still do not have enough milk for your little one, it is high time to go see a lactation consultant. They will help you with your existing routine and give practical tips on how to have more milk in the shortest time possible and even disease control.
After all, every baby has her own needs when it comes to breastfeeding and what works for one may not work for another. In the early days, one has enough milk from their mother but others need extra milk. Being stressed and losing weight would not help to increase your milk supply. Instead of giving up on breastfeeding or resorting to formula feeding (which can have its own set of health implications), try work on it and your breast milk could be naturally increased with enough sustenance for your little one. Start with a healthy lifestyle and keep making an effort.