Many mommies, especially after giving birth to their first child, have a lot of concerns. Some worry about the baby’s sleep or his health of if their child is getting enough food, many thinking they need to produce more breast milk.
In comparison to formula, one cannot measure the quantity of breast milk eaten by the baby so it is easy for a mother to assume she is producing insufficient breast milk.
As prevention is always key, we made a list that could answer a question that is on the lips of many mothers: “What can I do to increase lactation? “.
- Drink plenty of water
The production of breast milk is directly linked to how much water you drink. So not only do you need to eat healthy, you also need to drink enough water. The ideal amount is between 10 and 12 glasses every day. You may find this difficult at first, but start by paying attention to when you get thirsty. The body produces the same signals when it needs to eat or drink so when you get hungry, start by drinking a glass of water because it might actually just be thirst.
Some products contain substances known to help mothers produce more breast milk.
- Fennel Seeds
Some research papers have shown that these seeds can stimulate breast milk production. They also contain large amounts of vitamin C. Fennel seeds can be included in various recipes based on vegetables, rice.
According to some studies, mothers that include garlic in their diets tend to feed for a longer time. Also, babies seem to like this “flavored” breast milk.
- Cumin seeds
These seeds have many curative proprieties. If you start taking them before birth of your child, cumin seeds can help you gather your postpartum strength easier due to its iron content. They also help the digestive system in times of constipation, acidity or when bloated. Cumin seeds are frequently used in Indian recipes.
- Black sesame seeds
Due to their high calcium content, the intake of black sesame seeds is believed to increase breast milk production. They are also rich in copper. One way of cooking it is in combination with lentils.
Rich in vitamin K, basil can help with the milk supply. It also provides a calming effect while also improving appetite and various digestive system functions such as bowel movement. There are many ways to use basil. Some recipes suggest using it with vegetables or in soups.
- Dill seeds
Dill is rich in iron, magnesium and calcium. Nutritionists say it can help stimulate the production of breast milk and improve digestion and sleep. Caution must be taken when including dill in one’s diet as it is a diuretic. Dill seeds can be used as such or in a ground form in pickles, salads, curries and cheese spreads.
- Green vegetables
Beans, spinach and asparagus are rich in minerals and vitamins but also phytoestrogen, believed to stimulate the production of breast milk. Generally speaking, you want to make sure to include these green, leafy vegetables in your diet as much as possible. One of the best ways to keep green, leafy vegetables in your diet is by including them in all your dishes and making them as part of the main dishes as well. Different salads with a variety of nuts can be the perfect way to make sure that you get your green vegetables in when you are working on building your milk supply.
- Red vegetables
Sweet potatoes, carrots and beetroots contain large amounts of beta-carotene, a valuable substance for babies. Carrot seeds are believed to be beneficial for breastfeeding. Sweet potatoes and beets also contain iron and help keep the liver healthy.
These grains are rich in iron, calcium and fiber and are frequently suggested to nursing mums. Another good and nutritious galactogogue is broken wheat. Oats are most frequently consumed as porridge but they can also be combined with nuts, milk spices or fruits to make lactation cookies.
One of the best times to get your oats in for the day is during breakfast time. Starting off your day with a bowl of oats is one of the best ways to get your fuel and energy needs for the day. If you don't like the flavor of oats in the morning, you can always jazz it up a bit with dried fruits, raisins, and nuts.
- Give your body enough food, sleep and relaxation
Eating all those aforementioned foods will be beneficial only if you maintain a normal calorie intake. The daily calorie intake should be no less than 1,800 calories. Dieting makes sense only after the nursing period has ended. Not only will it make you feel tired, but it will affect your breast milk as it won’t contain all the important substances necessary for the baby’s development.
Stress could also inhibit lactation so try to relax before breastfeeding or pumping.
- Frequent Breastfeeding
When it comes to breastfeeding for the first time, one of the main things that many moms miss out on is the fact that the more you breastfeed, the more your body produces milk. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand type of situation. If you nurse your baby often, then your body will automatically jump into milk production mode.
The opposite is true. If you do not nurse frequently and consistently, then your milk supply will diminish. To ensure that you are off on the right foot, you want to be consistent in your breastfeeding and nurse about every 2 hours. If you really want to build up your supply, then you can even have a “nurse in”. This is when you stay in bed all day and do absolutely nothing but nurse your little one.
- Switch Nursing
Before doing this maneuver, you first need to observe all the steps your baby goes through while nursing. At first, he will eagerly suck for a few minutes then the he will decrease the frequency with which he sucks while also swallowing less often. This type of “lazy sucking” might continue for some time until the baby gets tired. At this point, although you will offer your child the other breast, he will not be able to feed as fast as he did at the beginning of the cycle.
The best way is to switch breasts when you feel his nursing is getting slower even if you started to feed only a few minutes ago. By switching, the baby will receive more of the higher calorie hindmilk. At the same time, both breasts will be stimulated equally. The cycle ends after offering both breasts twice.
- Gently massage your breasts while feeding
A good technique is to use breast compression thus helping your baby receive more hindmilk. When it comes to newborns, they often fall asleep once the milk flow decreases, even if they hadn’t eaten enough yet. So by applying breast compression, you will prevent this unwanted event.
Massaging is also beneficial in the fact that it will help stimulate your milk ducts. By encouraging more milk to flow out, you further encourage the process of milk production.
- Rarely use bottles and pacifiers
It is important for newborns to obtain this sucking habit as it helps with the development of the maxilla. They cannot learn it from sucking on milk bottles as it is much easier than when they feed naturally. By using bottles, babies won’t need to put so much effort into the movement. So when switching them back to breastfeeding, they won’t be able to suck vigorously, which will result in weaker breast milk production.
- Rent a hospital grade breast pump or buy a double pump
Hospital grade pumps are stronger than the standard ones so they are more efficient. As they are very expensive to buy ($1000), it is better to rent them.
You can also double pump 8 times in 24 hours or for 5 to 10 minutes after nursing. A tip is to put your pump to a higher setting.
If renting or purchasing a breast pump is not an option, then you might want to turn to your insurance. Through the Affordable Care Act, a brand new breast pumps is covered at 100%. Though you will have the option between a manual breast pump and an electronic one, you should know that an electronic breast pump will likely perform better. Not only do you not have to worry about manually pumping your milk, but electronic breast pumps generally do yield quite a bit more fluid.
- Make an appointment with your doctor
If you feel have been noticing a weaker lactation in the last 2 weeks, it might be the time to consult your doctor. He might recommend you certain natural supplements like fenugreek, blessed thistle, brewer yeast or red raspberries.
Even with herbal supplements, some cautions must be taken. Fenugreek should not be used by diabetics. Also, because it is a member of the peanut family, there is a risk of allergic reactions. Pregnant women are not advised to take this herbal remedy before giving birth as it can cause uterine contractions.
In some cases, drug prescriptions are necessary. Metoclopramide (Reglan, or Maxeran) and domeperidone (Motilium) are two medications used to increase the production of breast milk. According to studies, these treatments increase milk production with 66 to even 100 percent, depending on dosage and the initial milk production.
Metoclopramide increases the levels of prolactin, a hormone involved in the production of breast milk, the effect setting in in about 2-3 days. The most effective dosage is considered 30 to 45 mg per day.
Of course, mothers’ first question is “Will this drug affect me or the baby?”. It is important to know that although Reglan has been catalogued as a safe medication both for mothers and their babies, there are some side effects. It is important to know whether the person can withstand the consequences of this medication or if she would prefer something less aggressive. Some of the side-effects noticed during Reglan treatments are fatigue, irritability and depression.
Domeperidone has also shown to produce a significant increase in breast milk production. It is labeled as a safe drug because it doesn’t penetrate into the brain tissue in significant amounts and it doesn’t pass through the blood-brain barrier so it won’t become a breast milk component.
- Lactation cookies
One of the top trending tips among mothers is the so-called “Lactation Cookies” based on recipes that include galactogogues which are substances that stimulate lactation.
Galactogogues can be eaten in various ways but the most delicious option is in the form of cookies. The most frequent used galactogogues are oats, brewers yeast and flax seed.
The Interned offers many sites full of of recipes for lactation cookie. So whatever your preference is, you will definitely find something designed just the way your taste buds like it.
One of the things you should know is that it’s better to buy slow cooking rolled oats than the quick type used in instant oatmeals. You can find the recommended oats in any whole foods store.
According to advocates, these lactation cookies contain large amounts of fiber and just a minimum of cholesterol.
In conclusion, all of these tips should be taken into consideration. Start with the less aggressive ones. If you still find it difficult to produce breast milk then make an appointment with your doctor for further investigation and analysis.
Image Source: Multi-Mam.
Alice grew up in Los Angeles and currently lives in California, though she likes to visit home frequently. She graduated from a marketing specialist degree and worked at the core of outreach teams for more than 5 years.