Get tips for increasing your milk supply from Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Julie Cunningham.
If you’re a breastfeeding mom, you may wonder whether or not your milk supply is adequate for your growing baby from time to time. It’s normal to worry about your baby’s health and nutrition, and it’s only natural that you want to do everything you can to ensure that your baby thrives. Happily, most women can produce all the breastmilk their babies need. To separate fact from fiction when it comes to increasing your milk supply, read on.
How much breastmilk does my baby need?
Around the third day of your baby’s life, your breastmilk will start to change from thick, yellowish colostrum to mature milk. Each baby is different, but an average mother produces between 750-1000 mL (that’s between 3 and 4 cups) of milk per day by the end of her baby’s first week of life.
Feed your baby “On Demand”
The best way to ensure that your baby is getting plenty of milk is to feed him or her on demand. Feeding on demand means that you offer your breast to your baby anytime he or she is hungry, without trying to get the baby “on a schedule” for feeding. The more time your baby spends nursing at your breast, the more milk your body will make. A nursing baby signals your body to continue to produce milk, but when milk is not emptied from your breasts, your body gets the message that your milk is not needed. Pumping does remove milk from your breasts, and if you’re separated from your baby, you’ll need to pump. But, most moms will respond to skin-to-skin contact with their babies better than they will respond to a pump. If you want to increase your milk supply, spend as much time nursing your baby as possible.
Is there a special breastfeeding diet?
Mothers all over the world have been successfully breastfeeding their babies for thousands of years, and there is no one diet that women all over the world follow to help them produce breastmilk. A wide variety of foods can fit the bill when it comes to the breastfeeding diet. These are some key ingredients for breastmilk production:
- Make sure you get plenty of water. If you’re producing a liter of breastmilk a day, you need to drink an extra liter of water above what you would normally take in so that your body has plenty of fluid to make breastmilk.
- Many new moms want to get back into their pre-pregnancy clothes as soon as possible but dieting to lose weight will decrease your milk supply. It’s recommended that you take in about 2500 calories a day in order to give your body the energy it needs to recover from birth and to make plenty of milk for your baby.
- Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, as well as lots of iron-rich foods like lean meats, nuts, and beans. The more nutritious your diet, the better for you and your little one.
Will fenugreek increase my milk supply?
Researchers all over the world have studied the herb fenugreek and its effect on milk supply in human and animal mothers. In some mothers, fenugreek increases milk supply, especially during the earlier stages of breastfeeding. Some lactation support drinks designed to boost the milk supply of breastfeeding moms include fenugreek as a key ingredient. There are also teas for nursing moms that contain fenugreek as a milk supply enhancer.
Will lactation cookies help me produce more milk?
Lactation cookies can be high in calories and contain lots of vitamins and minerals thanks to their nutritious ingredients like oatmeal, brewer’s yeast, and flaxseed. They may also contain herbs like fenugreek. They may be helpful, especially for moms who have trouble taking in enough calories to meet their needs. You can find numerous recipes for lactation cookies that are easy to make at home.
Will a lactation consultant help me increase my milk supply?
A lactation consultant can be a lifesaver. You may be worried that things aren’t going well, and just need someone with lots of experience to reassure you that everything is going fine. Or, your mother’s intuition may be telling you that something is off with your baby’s feeding routine. Lactation consultants have years of experience with breastfeeding moms, and they are certified o make sure they are qualified to help you and your nursing baby. When choosing a lactation consultant, look for the credentials “IBCLC” (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) to be sure that you are getting a well-qualified lactation professional. Here are some clear signs that a lactation consultant is needed:
- After day 5 of life, your baby has less than six wet diapers or less than one bowel movement each day
- Your baby is not back up to his/her birth weight by 2 weeks old
- Your baby does not gain sufficient weight at his or her check-ups (generally at least ½ an ounce per day, ¾ to 1 oz per day is better)
- Your baby has trouble latching on or staying latched on to your breast
- Your baby does not seem satisfied after a feeding
As always if you feel something is off with your baby, consult your health care provider.
- Your lactation consultant may help you increase your milk supply by recommending more frequent feedings or the use of a breast pump in between feedings, or she may recommend fortifying your breastmilk to give it extra calories.
Take care of you, take care of your baby
When you have a newborn, life is overwhelmingly busy, and you may feel like you’ll never get another moment to take care of yourself. Sleepless nights make for long days, and it can be hard to think about taking care of yourself as a priority — that’s normal, and it will sort itself out eventually. Your baby is depending on you for everything, so it’s up to you and the people who love you and your baby to make sure that your baby’s most important person — you — is well taken care of.
About the Author
Julie Cunningham is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Julie makes her home North Carolina with her two sons.