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Are you worrying about low milk supply?
Fear not, I’ve been there and I managed to work through low milk supply, increase my breastmilk supply AND breastfeed my daughter until she was over a year old.
So, I empathise totally with how you’re feeling if your milk supply is low at the moment.
It is so easy to worry why something that gets touted around as being the most easy, natural thing in the world, isn’t working for you and your baby. It can leave you feeling very down about yourself.
But chin up, there is a way forward.
Here’s a little of my low milk supply story…
I had a very sleepy baby who barely woke to feed. When still in hospital she was given formula from a beaker as her blood sugar fell so low.
Although, I continued to try and breastfeed when we got home, we seemed to be behind the curve from the very start.
My daughter would go five hours without feeding, she was asleep and truly impossible to wake!
The result of her infrequent demand was that my supply was low, which meant she then didn’t get enough milk to satisfy her during a feed and would then be hungry after her feed. Joy!
She seemed otherwise healthy, but gained weight very slowly and fell from the 50th to the 10th percentile fairly rapidly.
Which, as you might imagine, had me incredibly worried.
Of course there are many reasons why a mother’s milk supply is low or inadequate for their baby.
Looking back I am sure that in my case being induced at 37 weeks, and then having an emergency c-section, was the major cause, as it made my baby girl so dozy in the first months.
So, how best to increase breastmilk supply?
For the first three months, I really struggled to find helpful advice.
I ended up supplementing heavily with formula which actually created a vicious circle, as it doesn’t do anything to increase demand from your baby.
None of the general baby books seemed to cover a very sleepy baby, and unfortunately our local maternity services weren’t great at explaining what caused the problem, or how to catch up and increase my milk supply.
So, I went on a search and find research mission and put together my own plan to increase my milk supply.
And guess what… it worked!
I eventually managed to drop using formula altogether and breastfed my daughter right up until she was 15 months old.
Of course one of the most important things to remember about every new mum and every baby is that we’re all different! So there are different things that will work for different mothers and babies.
With this in mind, I’ve put together a list of the low milk supply tips I found the most sensible and useful.
I really do hope that you find using one or a combination of them helps you find a way to increase your milk supply.
Ahead of this list I’d also like to add that I do think it’s incredibly important to recognise that breastfeeding does not work out for everyone. AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS. YOU CAN STILL BE THE BEST MOTHER IN THE WORLD EVER TO YOUR BABY.
That said, I was really keen to breastfeed and I found that it is entirely possible to solve a good number of breastfeeding issues that may be hampering you feed your baby.
So, dive in, take a look through this list and good luck!
Tips for increasing breastmilk supply
Skin to skin contact
Strip both of you down whenever you can and get your baby’s skin touching yours. This is the most natural way in the world to stimulate your breasts to produce more milk.
Rest, rest, rest
Rest as much as you can. Easier said than done? Well, not always. Sometimes you just have to put your mind to it, forget about all the non-urgent stuff, ease up on yourself and REST. Rope in friends and relatives to help out if you are really struggling.
Drink plenty of fluids
This is one of those ‘go figure’ tips, especially when you realise that 88% of breastmilk is water!
So yes, drinking plenty of fluids really will increase your milk supply.
Try to stick to water and drink small amounts of it through the day.
It can be easy to forget to drink, especially when you’re tired and have an irritable baby.
So, what I did was buy a drinking bottle that I filled and then had to hand wherever I was in the home or outside.
I always go for BPA free and I like to drink filtered water – particularly when I was breastfeeding – so something like this Bobble water bottle is spot on.
Get your oats
This is one of those breastmilk production tips that lactation experts the world over recommend.
Oats are a great source of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and iron. They are also low G.I, so give a slow release of energy, plus they are dense in calories, which is super important for breastfeeding mothers, who need to up their usual calorie intake to between 2500- 2700 calories per day.
Porridge is a great way to get those oats into your diet. As is adding a handful to a smoothie.
You can also chuck in a handful of flax seeds, as they are also heralded as a way to stimulate milk production.
Alternatively, you can eat what are known as ‘lactation cookies’, which are made from oats and usually have flax seeds and a host of other ingredients said to stimulate milk production.
I was lucky enough to have a mum who provided me with a constant supply of her own recipe oat cookies.
If you don’t have a kindly cook you can call on and don’t have the energy or time to make yourself some oat cookies, you can buy them. There are several brands out there, but Mommy Know Best Lactation Cookies are incredibly popular.
Eat a healthy diet
You are probably well aware of how important it is to eat a healthy, well balanced diet. But when you’re tired and dealing with a newborn it can be difficult to ensure you’re eating healthily.
I’ve got a post that contains some really useful tips on the kind of foods you should be eating as a new mum. In short, make sure to include plenty of protein, whole grain carbs, plus fruit and vegetables.
Again, rope in your partner, family or friends if you are struggling to find the time or energy to prepare and cook healthy meals.
Or try one of the many meal recipe-kit delivery services, that deliver all the ingredients you need to make a meal, alongside a recipe card.
Hello Fresh is super popular, I have friends who swear by it. You choose three recipes each week, and Hello Fresh deliver them straight to your door.
Or if you really can’t stretch to a recipe-kit delivery service, I wholeheartedly recommend you switch to online grocery shopping.
Honestly, I made the switch when my daughter was a couple of weeks old and I’ve not looked back since. I am a MASSIVE Ocado fan, there are very few brands I rave about, but Ocado are simply amazing and I couldn’t live without its grocery deliveries!
Click on the link to take a peak at Ocado – I challenge you NOT to sign up after seeing how easy it can make your life!
Pump after feeds
Now I believe this tip was an absolute winner for me, what with having a baby who wasn’t particularly demanding to be fed.
This ways your breasts get a good milk making workout that gets them in the breastmilk making mood!
You will produce VERY LITTLE milk initially, but don’t be demoralised. Persevere and you might well surprise yourself at what a milk-making marvel you are.
There are myriad breast pumps out there and there really is no ‘one pump works for all’ solution. I found reading Amazon reviews really useful when making my selection. I went for a manual pump rather than an electric one, but it really is down to personal choice and budget.
Right up there with rest, relaxation exercises are SO important. They can help reduce stress and anxiety hormone levels, which can inhibit milk supply, and instead bring an air of calm that will help you relax and your body to function more fluidly.
Try slow breathing to bring some deep relaxation – I have a post on a simple breathing technique that it’s well worth you trying.
Massage your breasts before starting a feed to stimulate the milk glands.
Here’s a great video showing you how to massage your breasts.
Take a hot shower
The warmth of a hot shower – or apply a hot compress to your breasts before feeding – can help letdown. It’s also totally lovely and relaxing to have a hot shower, not to mention stress reducing to have a few minutes to yourself in the shower.
And finally…. be patient. It is SO hard when you’re a new mum, you worry about everything, you want to get everything right for this new bundle that you love more than anyone you’ve ever loved. But sometimes taking the pressure off and being patient can pay real dividends.
Because sometimes it just takes time for babies to feed effectively – and for your breasts to get into gear with milk production. None of us are machines.
Also bear in mind that premature, induced and C-Section babies may be very sleepy for the first month, but after the first month they may suddenly start feeding efficiently and your milk supply naturally increases as a result.
I hope you find these tips useful, they did truly help me through a very frustrating time as a new mum.
We’ve got a whole bunch of other posts for mothers of babies that you might find useful… some of the favourites on Mums Make Lists include:
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