Breastfeeding can be an amazing journey, if you decide to take it. We are definitely Team Fed is Best, so however your baby gets what they need, right on! But if you decide to breastfeed, especially if this is your first baby, it can be tricky to get a good rhythm and flow (get it?). One of the biggest concerns new nursing mamas have is whether or not they’re producing enough milk. The easiest way to track this is through your baby’s weight gain. And your milk supply will go up and down, depending on your breastfeeding cycle and the needs of your baby. But if you feel like your supply is lagging a bit, there are some things you can do to help. So how can you increase your milk supply?
Making sure your baby is nursing efficiently is key to keeping your supply up. The more milk that is removed from your breast, the more your breast will produce.
In order to help your baby nurse more efficiently, make sure you’ve got good positioning, and the baby has a good latch. We recommend consulting with a lactation consultant if you’re struggling. And don’t feel down on yourself: SO MANY moms and babies struggle to find a good latch in the beginning.
Until you find a good latch and position that allows your baby to drain the breast, you may need to hand-express or pump in between nursing sessions to keep your supply up. Remember: the more milk that comes out, the more milk will come in.
How can you increase your milk supply? Nurse, nurse, nurse!
Nursing more frequently will also help remove more milk from the breast (thus prompting your body to produce more). If your baby is gaining weight slowly, consider nursing every 1.5-2 hours during the day, and every 3 hours at night.
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Also, make sure to nurse your baby on both sides, switching halfway through if necessary. Some women have found that switching back and forth is effective. When the baby gets sleepy or loses their latch, switch to the other breast, then back when it happens again.
Pumping in between sessions can also help (and put a little liquid gold in the freezer bank!).
This is especially important if your baby isn’t nursing very efficiently yet. As always, make sure you’re pumping out as much milk as you can (keep pumping for 2-3 minutes after the last drop of milk has been expressed). Some moms find pumping right after nursing to be helpful, if their babies aren’t emptying the breast during a nursing session.
Finally, you might want to try a galactagogue to increase your supply.
You can buy herbs and tinctures over the counter, or talk to your doctor about a prescription if all else fails. Some foods can also help your milk supply, like oatmeal, spinach, garlic, and fenugreek have proven to be helpful in boosting breast milk production.
So how can you increase your milk supply? Add more nursing sessions, make sure your baby (or pump) is emptying your breasts, and try a few breast milk-boosting foods. Once you get a good rhythm going, it’ll all fall into place.
(Image: iStock / golubovy)