Mother’s milk has all the nutrients a newborn baby needs and is the best natural food for a newborn. WHO recommends mothers to exclusively breastfeed infants for the first six months.
You may already know or have heard from a lot of experienced mothers that your breasts will make milk on an “on-demand” basis. This means that how often and how much milk is removed from the breasts are primary factors that determine the continued production of breast milk. In short, more milk will be produced if your breasts are emptied more frequently, through nursing or pumping.
How And When Is Breast Milk Produced?
Your body begins to make breast milk long before your baby is born. When you reach the third and last trimester of your pregnancy, then you might notice that your breast is leaking; you will note small drops of clear or yellow fluid leaking from your breasts or staining your bra, that’s Colostrum, and this happens because of prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production after the birth of your baby.
Colostrum has an incredible antibody and nutrient content that lactation experts also call it “liquid gold.” It’s a Superfood and perfect first food for your newborn. Once your baby and placenta are delivered, it can take up to 4 to 5 days for colostrum to turn into mature breast milk. Till then, it’s very reasonable for a mother to feel that your newborn isn’t getting enough, because as a new mother, you would be expecting that your breasts would be gushing milk once your baby is born. When you do not see that happening, then it’s quite natural for a mother to worry over insufficient milk supply.
Do Not Stress! Feed your child every 1 or 2 hours with colostrum which your breast is producing – It’s packed with everything your baby needs to grow and thrive. Even if you don’t think your baby is getting anything, still keep feeding every 1 or 2 hours because the more your baby suckles, the faster colostrum would give way to milk. —it’s like a demand and supply process.
Benefits Of Mother's Milk For Both Mom And Baby
Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Your Baby:
Breast milk provides complete nourishment to the baby during the first six months. It contains antibodies that help your baby fight off many infections and strengthens the immune system. It protects the baby from many diseases. Studies show that breast fed children develop more resistance to diseases than formula-fed children. Breastfeeding also lowers the risk of SIDS, and also the skin-to-skin contact encouraged by breastfeeding offers babies greater emotional security and enhances bonding with mother.
Benefits Of Breastfeeding For The Mother:
A woman’s breast milk is designed specifically to nourish the body of an infant, the production and delivery of this milk aids mothers’ health too.
- It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth.
- Breastfeeding also lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
- Mothers who breastfeed are more likely to return to their pre-pregnancy weight than mothers who formula feed their baby because mothers burn many calories during lactation as their bodies produce milk.
- There are many long-term health benefits of breastfeeding for nursing moms, which protects them against a wide array of life-threatening diseases like Reproductive cancers, Heart Disease, Diabetes.
Causes Of Low Milk Supply And How To Increase Breast Milk Naturally.
If you feel your milk supply is low for whatever reason, then below are the few natural ways to boost your milk supply. All we need is a little push to kick start the production of breast milk because we Mothers’ have the ability to produce the milk our babies need.
1. Get The Breastfeeding Latch Right
A good breastfeeding latch is necessary to build and maintain a healthy supply of breast milk for your baby. If your newborn isn’t latching on well and removing the breast milk from your breasts, it could cause your milk supply to go down.
A good latch should have a big mouthful of your breast, and the baby’s chin and nose should be touching your breast, with the lower lip curled outwards. In this position, the baby can empty the breast properly, and your breast will feel lighter.
If the latch is not right, your breast will still feel heavy, and there will be milk in the breasts after nursing, which means your breasts won’t be stimulated to produce more, initiating a vicious cycle of poor milk demand and poor milk supply. The poor latch would also lead to concerns like clogged ducts; nipples may become cracked and mighty painful. If you’re having trouble with the latch, consult a lactation expert to get your latch right.
2. Use Breast Pumps For Proper Drainage
Use a breast pump for better breast milk production; it is important for the breasts to be properly drained.
One common recommendation is to make sure the baby feeds at least 15-20 minutes on each breast and takes both breasts at each feeding. But Generally, a newborn falls asleep while breastfeeding due to which proper feeding is not done, and then you have to feed more frequently, which can exhaust a new mother and can lead to frustration.
If you have a sleepy baby (like mine) or a newborn who’s not a strong nurser, breast pumps can keep your breast milk flowing better and your baby drinking.
3. Breast Massaging
Breast massage can help you physically prepare for pumping or breastfeeding. When you massage your breast, you are going to stimulate the blood flow, and that will help you release the oxytocin hormone in the breast to help make the milk flow more easily.
There are many ways of doing a breast massage; when you will start doing it, then you will develop your technique, which you might find more useful.
Some massage techniques include stroking around the outside of the breast where the milk-producing areas are, with stroking down toward the nipple. Massage all around the breast, including underneath where some of the milk-producing areas are. You can do a little bit of nipple stimulation as well. If you want, you can use both your hands to massage your breast.
You don’t have to massage for long but 5 to 10 minutes or less depending on your need before breastfeeding or pumping.
Massage is also often used when mothers are worried about plugged milk ducts. If you have a particular firm area in the breast, then you can do more localized massage in that area and also place warm, wet washcloths on your breasts. The moist heat can help bring about the flow of your breast milk and empty those plugged/clogged ducts. Massage is something that will make breastfeeding a bit more effective and particularly when pumping the milk out.
After the third day of my childbirth, I could feel lots of plugged milk ducts, and my breast felt like rock hard and painful, and I felt that massaging and applying warm wet cloth helped me in better feeding and pumping and with continuous practice, I could clear my plugged ducts in 2-3 days.
4. Galactagogues Rich Foods / Milk Booster Food
Certain foods are known to promote or increase the flow of a mother’s milk and are natural lactation boosters. These foods contain compounds that encourage the function of hormones in the body to produce more milk. Milk boosting foods include:
5. Try Lactation Tea
Lactation tea is a herbal tea and is a combination of various herbs that helps to increase mothers’ milk supply. Lactation tea includes ingredients like Nettle, Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, Chamomile, Asparagus, Cumin, Fennel, Moringa, Alfalfa, Cardamon, Ginger, Cinnamon, Turmeric.
If your milk supply is low, then It’s important to drink 2-3 cups per day to see results, but you must check with your doctor before you down 3 cups of lactation tea.
Lactation teas can be brewed like how you would brew regular teas, but it is best to follow specific instructions that come with the product
6. Avoid Formula Milk
When your milk supply is low, it can be tempting to start giving your baby formula milk, if only as a top-up feed. However, this can backfire because once you start giving formula milk, you have taken the first step on a path that leads to decreasing milk production and an early end to breastfeeding.
Once you start giving your baby formula as well as breast milk, you may find yourself in a bit of a vicious cycle, because then your baby needs less of your breastmilk because he’s formula-fed which digests slower than breast milk, your breasts will get the signal to make less milk. Then you’ll need to keep topping him up with a formula to satisfy his appetite. Since the demand is low, it also results in low supply, naturally.
7. Hold Off On The Pacifier
If you choose to give your baby a pacifier, consider waiting until breastfeeding is going well, and your milk supply has been established. This would be around 3 to 4 weeks after the baby is born because after a month old, your baby should be well accustomed to latching on and breastfeeding.
8. Take Rest and Don't Stress
Recovering from childbirth and breastfeeding a newborn is exhausting for any mother. Plus, postpartum fatigue and lack of energy can interfere with breastfeeding.
Along with eating well, it’s important to take rest and don’t take the stress and let the body recover from the hardship of pregnancy and labor. Making milk is hard work! If your body is well-rested and has a calm mind, then only you would be able to perform all its functions properly, especially when it comes to making milk.
Breastfeeding is of great significance in the early years for your baby. So, It is essential for a mother to take care of her health and baby, and please don’t stress out. I know it’s hard to play the role of a mother, but when you see your child healthy and happy, it is worth it. Try to keep things relaxed and focus on positive things. Your milk supply will return.
Did you struggle with a low milk supply? What helped you increase your breastmilk? I would love to hear from you and your experiences, which would help other new moms sail through the journey of breastfeeding and motherhood. Comment Below…