by Patricia Hughes
One of the most common worries among new breastfeeding mothers is having an adequate supply. Many of us, at one time or another will worry that we aren’t making enough milk. In most cases, our worries turn out to be unfounded. If you are concerned about making enough milk, there are some things you can do to increase the supply.
Sometimes we find we are worrying for nothing. Before you get too worried, be sure you really have a diminished supply. As the baby settles into a somewhat regular feeding schedule, your body will naturally adjust to that schedule. Your breasts will feel less full between feedings than they did when the baby was first born. Sometimes we mistake this for a reduced supply.
The best way to determine if the baby is getting enough milk is to keep track of the number of wet diapers the baby has in a twenty four hour period. If the baby has at least six wet diapers each day, you probably don’t have to worry. Likewise, if the baby is gaining well, supply is probably not an issue.
The most important thing to remember is that breast milk works on the principle of supply and demand. The more you nurse your baby, the more milk your body will make. Therefore, the first thing you should do if you are concerned about supply is to increase the frequency of your baby’s feedings. Your body will respond by making more milk.
Consider things that can be interfering with your breastfeeding relationship. If you are supplementing with formula, your supply will decrease. To increase your milk supply, cut back on the formula and increase the number of feedings at the breast.
The same effect can be seen with pacifier use. This is more likely a cause if the baby uses a pacifier for a large portion of the day. Be sure the pacifier isn’t delaying the next feeding by keeping baby content for longer periods. This will cause a drop in your supply. To fix this problem, only offer the pacifier after a feeding and only if your baby has a high sucking need that can’t be met at the breast.
You are spending most of your energy caring for your baby. Don’t forget to take care of Mommy too. You need proper nutrition to produce milk. Nursing mothers need about 300 additional calories each day. Make sure you are taking the time to eat regularly. Choose healthy snacks, like fresh fruits, vegetables, yogurt and other quick and healthy snacks. You can keep these ready in the refrigerator to grab as you sit down to feed your baby.
Make sure you are getting enough fluids each day. It’s important for you to stay hydrated for your milk supply. The idea that you have to drink milk to make milk is a funny old wives tale, although milk is high in calcium and protein. Choose healthy drinks such as water, milk and juices, rather than soda, coffee or tea. It’s easy to get busy and forget to drink for hours at a time. Fill your water glass before each breastfeeding session to help you remember to drink your water.
There are herbal remedies to help increase your milk supply. Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle are known as galactagogues and are said to help increase milk supply. They can be found in pill form at a health food store. Mother’s Milk Tea contains these herbs, if you prefer a tea over taking pills.
Remember to ALWAYS consult with your health care professional before changing your diet or adding any extra supplements or herbs, not only for your safety and well-being but your babies also.
Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.
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