Increasing your milk supply
Not having enough milk can be an overwhelming concern for new mums. Fortunately, there are many simple steps you can take to make sure your milk is plentiful and nourishing for baby.
Amidst the busyness of caring for a little one, it’s easy for the basics like eating, drinking and sleeping to get bumped down your list of priorities! But taking care of yourself in these very basic ways is essential to your milk supply.
Water is crucial, and 2L a day is a good goal to aim for. Keep a sipper bottle within arm’s reach of where you usually feed, so it’s easy to access with one hand and sip away on as baby feeds. Remember to refill your water after each feed.
Getting enough calories regularly throughout the day is also important. This is not the time to go on a low-calorie diet: your body needs protein and healthy carbohydrates in order to make milk and keep you going.
(If you are supporting someone who is breastfeeding, looking after these simple needs can be a thoughtful way to help out. A freshly replenished stash of snacks and water close at hand is sure to make the mother you love feel cared for and appreciated.)
If you possibly can, sit down to one warm meal per day, filled with protein, green salad, grains such as millet or rice, and cooked veges like carrots, fennel, or yam. Add pearl barley to your soup. Don’t forget the healthy fats such as avocado or olive oil, and ensure you are getting enough essential fatty acids. Eat oats or sugar free muesli for breakfast. Homemade and packed with nuts, seeds and shredded coconut is always delicious and nutritious. This will go a long way to supporting your health and boosting your milk supply.
Reducing your stress can also help improve supply. Let someone you trust cuddle or watch your baby while you rest, go for a walk, or take a shower. Practice deep breathing and do something that makes you happy, whether it’s watching a favourite show, reading, or having a good chat to a friend. This is the advice everyone gives new mothers, and that’s because it’s the best advice – when the baby sleeps, sleep! Or at least do your best to chill out and relax. The housework can definitely wait, and sleep is far more essential to you and baby’s health than a clean kitchen or a vacuumed floor.
GETTING YOUR MILK FLOWING – WITH A BREAST PUMP
Breast pumps are particularly helpful for mums wanting to increase their supply.
After your baby has finished feeding, you can stimulate your milk supply by continuing to express milk using a pump. This will prompt your body to produce more milk in future and increase your supply. Your Lead Maternity Carer may also suggest pumping for 10-20 minutes every 2-3 hours where possible.
The quality of your breast pump will make a big difference to the efficiency and comfort of this process. Unimom pumps are widely used because of their gentle, quiet action, hospital-grade efficiency, and affordability. Double expressing is a fantastic choice as it can increase the breastfeeding hormone prolactin, and you have the added bonus of your pumping being completed in half the time. Unimom pumps give you the choice to single or double express.
While pumping, start out on a low setting and slowly increase it according to your comfort, as starting on a high level can effect milk flow. Gently stroke your breasts and then apply some pressure as if you are hand expressing – this will help you to maximise your output. If you are double expressing you can use a hands-free pumping bra which means you can still apply this stimulation to your breasts – or just have your hands free to read a book!
If you don’t have a breast pump, hand expressing after each feed can help. Massaging your breasts in a circular motion in a warm shower, or applying warm packs or flannels before a feed can also help to get the milk flowing.
SUPPLEMENTS FOR MAXIMUM BOOST
- Galactagogue tea with Goat’s Rue is reputed to increase breast tissue and boost supply, and sipping a warm cup of this mixture of lactation-supporting herbs will also help you to relax. If you’re finding it difficult to get through a whole cup while it’s still hot (a common problem for mothers with newborns!) it’s also delicious cold mixed half and half with apple juice.
- Lactation AOK is a very effective, natural, and easy to take tonic to boost supply.
- Both Blessed Thistle and Fenugreek are traditionally used to get milk flowing, and are available as capsule supplements.