If you are worried about whether you are producing enough milk for your baby’s needs, it may help to know that you are not alone – many mothers around the world share the same concern. If your baby is putting weight on steadily, has a sufficient number of wet diapers and bowel movements on a daily basis, and if your breasts feel lighter and softer after nursing, your baby is probably getting all the milk it needs. However, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to talk to your physician or lactation consultant. Below are some tips on what you can do to increase breast milk supply, if you feel that you are not producing enough or just wish to prevent problems.
The teething process can be very uncomfortable for baby and parents. Normally it begins around four days before the tooth erupts through the gum and lasts for another three days. During this period, your baby may show an array of symptoms, including drooling, irritability,biting, gum rubbing, sucking, decreased appetite for solid food, etc.
The first thing you should remember when it comes to breast milk production is that it is connected with demand – the more you breastfeed, the more milk your breasts will produce. Nurse whenever your baby shows the first signs of hunger (increased alertness, rooting or mouthing), long before they start crying. Don’t try to adopt feeding schedules, but rather rely on your baby’s internal clock which will tell you exactly how often and how long to nurse. Also, there are days that your body has to adjust to a changed need from your baby. On these days your baby will be more restless , more agitated and asking for more feeds. After 2-3 days it will go back to normal, your body has adjusted and your baby will be satisfied again. Days like these will happen regularly during the first year and often go together with an important step forward in the development of your baby. Try to find enough rest on these days and latch your baby on as often as your baby needs. If your baby is not gaining weight as quickly as you would like or if nursing is painful, poor latching on could be the culprit. Ask for help from a lactation consultant, friend or a family member who has experience in breastfeeding. Latching on properly will allow your baby to nurse efficiently and it will protect your nipples from damage and pain.
You can stimulate milk production by expressing milk between the feeds. This is only necessary if your baby does not gain weight or has no wet diapers.
Avoid giving your baby formula, if possible. This relates to demand and production – if your baby drinks formula, they will breastfeed less, which will lead to further reduction of breast milk production. Also, avoid offering pacifiers or bottles until breastfeeding is established – pacifiers can cause nipple confusion in your baby, resulting in them refusing to nurse.
While nursing, a gentle massage of the breasts can help, not with the amount of milk you will produce, but to open the milk ducts and promote free milk flow.
Sometimes it might be comforting to weigh your baby before and after feeding, but be aware that the amount your baby drinks is very small at the beginning.
Scientists have not given their verdict on whether certain foods can actually influence lactation, so do take any claims with a pinch of salt. Some foods that are believed to increase breast milk supply are some seeds (such as fenugreek, fennel, cumin, sesame and dill), garlic, spinach, holy basil tea, lentils, nuts and dried fruits, oats and porridge, blessed thistle, ginger and carrots.
If you do decide to experiment with any of these ingredients, do keep in mind that they should be taken in moderation and only as a part of a healthy, balanced diet. Before starting any supplementation or herbal remedies, consult your physician.
Another common cause for reduced milk production is stress. Having a newborn can be very stressful, so allow yourself and your baby some time to bond and get some rest. If possible, limit your obligations to a minimum so that you can spend the first days after delivery with your baby. Do not feel bad about asking friends or family members for help. Find the calmest, quietest room in the house to breastfeed in – this will help both you and your little one relax and focus on nursing. Especially during the days your body has to adjust to new baby needs, and your baby seems whiny and weepy it may help to talk to other mothers that had a baby around the same period. The recognition and understanding helps you guide each other through this period.