It’s common for nursing mothers to worry whether their babies are getting enough nutrients to grow healthy and strong. Since it’s impossible to measure how much breast milk your little one is taking in, any change in your baby’s nursing habits or how your body feels can cause unnecessary alarm. Growth spurts, fussy behavior, and your body adapting to your baby’s needs can all affect how a baby nurses and are all absolutely normal.
If you’re concerned that your milk supply is low or wish you could increase the amount of milk you are pumping, there are some tricks you can try to increase milk production. Taking care of yourself and spending quality time with your new baby are two of the most important ways to enhance milk production. Many moms find The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk by Diana West to be a great resource. If you believe that you’re producing an inadequate milk supply, consult with your doctor or a lactation consultant to see if there are any underlying issues that need to be addressed.
Supply and Demand
Your body is incredibly smart and learns the frequency and amount of milk that is taken from the body (either by your baby or breast pump). Essentially, the more milk that is removed from the breasts, the more milk the breasts will produce. Adding in an extra pumping session in the morning or evening can help stimulate greater milk production. If your breasts still feel full after breastfeeding, you can either hand express or pump to soften the breasts.
The Importance of the Pump
A decreased pumping output oftentimes has nothing to do with the body’s ability to produce milk, but rather, the breast pump itself. If your pump isn’t hospital grade or doesn’t meet high quality standards, it may be time for a new pump. Check all of the parts of your breast pump to ensure it is in excellent working order and take a look at the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure you’re using the pump correctly.
Sore nipples or damaged breast tissue are signs that the breast flanges don’t fit. For the breast pump to work most efficiently and to prevent further pain, everything needs to fit well. Even if you are not experiencing pain, low milk production can be a sign that the flanges you are using are too small. Try a size up to see if you are able to pump more milk.
Your baby may love his or her pacifier, but it may be keeping your baby from nursing. Avoid pacifiers and bottles as much as possible to encourage sucking needs be met at the breasts. If your baby is taking in any nutrients beyond breastmilk such as water or formula, your baby may not want to nurse frequently which can have a serious impact on levels of milk production. Try decreasing anything in your baby’s diet that isn’t breastmilk to encourage more nursing.
Taking Care of Mom
If you’ve been feeling sick or stressed, your milk production will certainly decrease. Your body has been through a lot recently and nursing isn’t always easy, so it’s important to take time to relax. Sleep when your baby sleeps and be sure to get all of the nutrients that you need. Keep snacks and water bottles around, or even make yourself a care basket filled with granola bars, water, books, and magazines. Be sure to stay hydrated, but you don’t need to overdo it on the liquids as drinking extra water to increase milk supply is a myth. Take care of yourself to take care of your baby.
By adding in an extra pumping or nursing session a day, ensuring your breast pump fits and is in good condition, reducing the time your baby has with a pacifier, and taking a little more time for yourself, you may find that your milk production will increase. If your milk supply is still inadequate, you should consult a doctor or lactation consultant. Do what is best for you and your baby to ensure health and happiness. Remember that you and your baby have a special bond that is not dependent on the amount of milk you produce.
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