Your breastmilk will give your baby a strong immune system for the first few months and guard against tummy viruses, respiratory infections, ear infections, meningitis and even reduce the risk of her developing childhood cancers. So boosting milk supply is an important issue, particularly when the most common complaint from would-be breastfeeding moms is that they don’t seem to have enough milk.
Back to basics
For regular feeding, it’s important to get your baby latched correctly. The more she feeds, the bigger your milk supply. Sit comfortably with your entire nipple and a large portion of the surrounding areola in baby’s mouth.
Position isn’t as important as experience and practice. If she doesn’t immediately turn to the breast, tickle her cheek or brush her nose.
Place the breast towards the roof of her mouth and, if necessary, press down on her chin to open the mouth wider. If you feel pain it means you’re not latching correctly.
Slip a clean finger between your nipple and the side of her mouth to break contact and try again. If you are struggling, don’t give up – contact a lactation consultant or chat to an experienced breastfeeding mom, who can help pinpoint a problem just by watching you nurse.
Feeding on cue
Feed on demand. Scheduled feeds can affect milk production and cause mastitis or engorgement. When your baby takes a longer nap after feeding, you’ll know all is well.
Remember, too, that breastfed babies often feed in “courses” – your baby may have a little drink, followed by a nappy change or short nap, and then want her main course and possibly even dessert! Just keep feeding her and checking your latch to make sure she is taking in enough milk.
Foods and milk supply
According to international board certified lactation consultant Kelly Bonyata, moms don’t need a perfect diet to provide quality milk for their babies.
A poor diet is more likely to affect the mom than her breastfed baby. But for general good health and energy, try to avoid processed starches and sugars and have a mix of proteins, carbohydrates and fats at most meals.
- Don’t count calories as excessive dieting can reduce milk supply.
- Don’t force fluids: drink to satisfy thirst.
- Restrict caffeine.
- If there is a family history, eliminate allergic foods.
- Eat fish low in mercury, such as hake, salmon, sardine, crayfish or anchovies.
- Eat when you’re hungry and drink when you’re thirsty.
Got milk? Boost your supply effectively
“To speed milk production and increase overall milk supply, the key is to remove more milk from the breast frequently so that less milk accumulates in the breast between feedings,” says Kelly.
- Use the latching advice we mentioned earlier to make sure baby is feeding efficiently.
- Breastfeed frequently to remove more milk from your breasts – every one to two hours during the day and every three hours at night.
- Take a feeding holiday with your baby. Stay in bed together for two to three days, nurse frequently and rest.
- Offer both breasts at each feeding.
- Use each side at least twice during each feeding session.
- Avoid using dummies or bottles, particularly in the early days.
- If your baby is younger than four to six months, give her only breastmilk and avoid solids, water and formula. Expressing after or between nursing sessions can be very helpful.
Usually moms always have enough milk. Some give up because they lack support to continue producing enough. Consider talking to a lactation consultant and always keep in mind that the more you nurse, the more milk you’ll produce.
Is your milk supply really low?
International board certified lactation consultant Kelly Bonyata says, “Moms often think that their milk supply is low when it really isn’t. If your baby is gaining good weight on breastmilk alone, then you do not have a problem with supply.”
Don’t just watch the scales. Other signs of good milk intake are as important. Expect five to six wet nappies every 24 hours. To feel what a sufficiently wet nappy is like, pour three tablespoons of water into a clean nappy.
Or line a disposable nappy with a tissue: if the tissue is wet, you know that the baby has had a wee. Moist, sparkling eyes, alertness and meeting her milestones are other signs that your baby is getting enough milk.
Weigh your baby on the same scale, in the same clothes and at roughly the same time – before her feed and after a bowel movement. Not doing this can actually give a false reading from one weigh-in to another.
Alcohol: the facts
- Your baby is affected in proportion to the amount you drink.
- One alcoholic drink per day has not proven harmful.
- But be guided by your doctor.
- Alcohol will peak in your milk around 30 to 60 minutes after drinking.
- It will take two to three hours to rid your body of the alcohol in one glass of beer or wine and 13 hours for a high alcohol drink.
- Experts advise against drinking while breastfeeding and to avoid breastfeeding for two to three hours after having had a drink.
- Beer and milk stout do not increase milk production. Settle for a nonalcoholic beer instead.