How To Boost Your Milk Supply
Written by James Kicinski-McCoy
Photography by Photo via Women Advance
Making enough milk to feed our babies is something that all nursing moms worry about at one point or another. Rest assured, as long as your baby is gaining a healthy amount of weight during exclusive breastfeeding, you are producing enough milk. If you are having to supplement or fear that baby isn’t gaining enough weight, or you believe your supply is low due to another reason, we suggest finding a lactation consultant in your area.
In the meantime, here is a list of galactagogues (a food, herb, or supplement that promotes or increases the flow of mother’s milk) that can help aid nursing mothers—many of them having been used for centuries.
Nurse, Nurse, Nurse. The more your baby nurses, the more milk your body will naturally create. Try to devote your days to nursing, as much as 10-12 times in 24 hours. Also, nursing skin-to-skin (wearing no clothes, only a blanket around the both of you), helps release hormones that produce milk.
Switch Sides. Make sure you’re not favoring one breast. Change sides at least 2-3 times per nursing session (especially any time your baby switches to comfort sucking, falls asleep, or loses interest).
Avoid Pacifiers, Bottles, And Supplementing When Possible. Nursing is a basic supply and demand process. The more frequently you nurse, the more milk you will produce. Using pacifiers, bottles, or supplementing with formula or other baby foods will make your baby less likely to want to nurse afterwards.
Take Care Of Yourself. If you’re not eating well and drinking enough water, your body will not have the necessary nutrition and fluids to produce milk. Also, we know you might be anxious to loose the baby weight, but dieting after pregnancy deprives the baby and yourself, as you need a minimum of 1800 calories each day while lactating.
Breast Compression. Massaging the breast while breastfeeding will help the rich, high-calorie hindmilk release more efficiently, therefore increasing milk supply.
Pumping. Try pumping 5-10 minutes after nursing on a medium to maximum setting. This will encourage a more frequent, consistent flow. It is also very important to pump when you are unable to nurse your baby. Emptying the breasts frequently increases milk supply.
Apply Heat. Try taking a warm bath or applying a warm compress to your breasts before nursing, as it helps to increase milk flow.
Fenugreek. Women have used this herb since the 19th century, as it’s known to increase milk flow by 900%.
Blessed Thistle. This plant has been a part of herbal medicine since the Middle Ages and is commonly used along with fenugreek to help increase the supply of breastmilk.
Goat’s Rue. This powerful herb has been shown to increase milk production by 50% in nursing mothers. It stimulates milk production, increasing the flow of breastmilk. It’s often found as an ingredient in nursing teas and other supplements.
Red Raspberry Leaf. This herb not only helps to increase breast milk production, but also helps the uterus recover after birth. It’s also commonly found in nursing teas and supplements.
Garlic. For centuries, mothers have used garlic to help boost their milk supply. You don’t have to go overboard, just use it in recipes. For those of you who aren’t fans of the taste, odorless garlic supplements are now available with no aftertaste.
Brewer’s Yeast. Commonly used in the production of beer, this yeast is highly nutritious (containing B vitamins, iron, protein, along with other trace minerals). Many nursing mothers use it as a dietary supplement, as it is known to help produce breast milk.
Mother’s Milk Tea. This naturally sweet herbal tea contains herbs like fenugreek, coriander, fennel, and anise, which give the tea a sweet, licorice-like taste.
Fennel. Whether you cook with it, toss it into a salad, or take it in the form of a supplement, this herb is said to be an excellent, natural way to increase breast milk production. It’s also available in an essential oil form. Fennel essential oil is a very potent extract and another great way to increase milk supply.
Milkmakers. These delicious cookies include ingredients known to increase milk production like oats and brewer’s yeast. They also contain flax seeds, which provide an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids that pass through the mother’s milk to ensure proper brain development.
Oatmeal. This common breakfast food is fantastic for building and maintaining your milk supply. Try a warm, hearty bowl of oats in the morning or sprinkle it on other foods throughout the day to reap the benefits.
Alfalfa. Known for its ability to increase breastmilk production, alfalfa also provides the body with essential vitamins and minerals. Many midwives encourage their clients to supplement with alfalfa for six weeks before birth and for several months afterwards.
Read On. If you’re still searching for remedies or would like more information on nursing there are several book full of tips and tricks like Ina May’s Guide To Breastfeeding or The Nursing Mother’s Herbal (Human Body library).
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