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15 Ways to Increase Your Milk Supply

Katlyn Joy |15, January 2013


Breastfeeding mothers all have a common concern: is my baby getting enough to eat? Am I producing enough milk for my baby? Many times moms worry simply because they no longer have a strong noticeable milk letdown reflex once the milk supply has become established. Or else they notice their breasts are no longer so full between feedings. These are actually signs that your body has adjusted to breastfeeding and your baby's demands for milk.

How Do You Know Baby is Getting Enough During Nursing?

- Baby seems satisfied after feedings. If baby isn't frequently fussy and seems to be full and content, chances are he is getting plenty at nursing sessions.

- Baby has several wet diapers a day and the urine is colorless. Seeing a lot of yellow tinged urine means concentrated urine, which is a sign of dehydration.

- Expect baby to gain four to seven ounces a week if baby is getting sufficient nutrition.

- Another subtle clue? Baby gulps during feedings.

- Regular poopy diapers. Every baby is different but expect at minimum a soiled diaper a day.

Why Your Milk Supply Might Diminish

Some reasons a woman may experience diminished milk supply include heavy bleeding and weakness in labor, having a difficult labor, anemic women, separation from baby in initial hours after birth, supplementing with formula, illness in mother following delivery including infection, a baby sleeping through the night, a sleepy nurser who essentially naps at the breast and never completely empties breasts, and babies who have improper latch-on technique.

15 Ways to Increase Milk Supply

There are a number of ways to increase your milk supply. Heard the phrase 'supply and demand?' This is a key concept in breastfeeding. You want to produce more milk than nurse more often and longer.

1. Make sure baby nurses from each breast during every nursing session. If you have a sleepy baby or a snacker, remove your drowsy baby from the breast and undress baby and change her diaper to help wake her up to resume nursing.

2. Make sure the baby finishes the first breast offered. This is the way to ensure baby gets all the fatty hindmilk. Then offer baby the second breast. Switch the first breast offered at the next feeding then to keep both breasts well emptied.

3. If baby still dozes off at the breast before finishing feedings, then try the switch feeding method where you switch breasts a few times during each session to keep baby alert.

4. Make sure baby is always well positioned at the breast. Baby should open mouth wide and have the nipple centered in his mouth, covering the entire areola. Many greedy babies will grab ahold and latch onto the nipple only partially. This can be painful to mom and result in improper nursing and incomplete emptying of the breast. If baby doesn't get on properly, insert a clean finger into baby's mouth to break suction before pulling your breast away. Then try once more.

5. Limit baby's other suckling such as on bottles and pacifiers. These can cause nipple confusion or satiate a baby's need to nurse to some extent. If you are supplementing with formula, consider cutting back or ending that until your milk supply has a chance to become firmly established.

6. If you are away from baby, you need to pump if you'll miss a feeding even if you must dump the milk. Going too long between nursings will signal your body that baby is requiring less milk so your breasts will slow production.

7. Pumping between feedings may also be an effective means to jumpstart your milk production.

8. While nursing, make sure you relax and can focus on baby. Enjoy the closeness by touching baby's hands, or touching baby's face.

9. Before feedings you may try a warm compress and breast massage to encourage your milk let down. Use a technique recommended by La Leche or use a similar approach to the way you do monthly self breast exams.

10. Take care of yourself, making certain you continue with a healthy diet and get plenty of rest and water or milk to drink.

11. Wake baby during lengthy naps or nighttime to feed baby. While it may seem wrong to wake a sleeping baby, this is one time it's a good idea.

12. In the beginning, aim for feeding your baby every two hours or so. Waiting for four hours is just too long for a newborn baby and your milk supply will suffer as a result.

13. If you got a nifty sling try carrying baby throughout the day in the sling. The closeness will facilitate nursing.

14. Ask your doctor, or lactation consultant about safe herbal remedies to increase milk production.

15. Finally, make sure you are committed enough to the process. In the beginning weeks it will be a real chore at times, especially if you are recovering from a tough labor or c-section or you have sore nipples. If you are exhausted reconsider what you are trying to accomplish in a day. Nursing should be a priority so let the things go that can go undone. Get some help with household duties for awhile to help you rest and build your strength

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Hbuffington Jul 30, 2014 10:02:23 AM ET

So helpful. Baby Paislee can't get enough of my milk.

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