Natural Ways to Increase Breast Milk
Properly positioning your baby, making sure they are well attached and sucking effectively, will help your baby nurse for longer periods of time and in turn cause your body to produce more milk. This is one of the best ways to increase milk production.
When looking at a nutrition standpoint, there are two important factors critical to producing milk. The first is drinking enough fluid. It doesn’t have to be milk; water or juice is fine. You may be producing 20 to 40 ounces of fluid a day, and that’s quite a lot. Thirst is a good indicator of need, but may not do the whole job. It’s a good rule of thumb to drink a bit more, past being quenched. It is also a good habit to fill a glass of water for yourself to drink while your baby is nursing.
Nursing requires about an extra 500 calories per day. Women that go on restricted diets in an attempt to lose weight while they are nursing may be eating too few calories, which leaves them fatigued and without the energy necessary for optimal milk production.
Beer has been touted for years as being a stimulus to milk production. However, research shows that babies don’t like alcoholic breast milk, and actually drink less of it, resulting in less stimulation to the breast. Ultimately, this means a decrease in milk production.
Increasing your feeding times or using a breast pump more often can help increase milk supply. The more breast milk you use up the more your body should try and make. Your body increases the amount of breast milk it produces to keep up with demand. If you start using formula to supplement part of the day your body will start thinking it does not need to produce as much breast milk. Try and feed your baby breast milk exclusively for the first 6 months of life.
Stress can negatively affect milk production. Find a way to rest and de-stress. Have a sitter come in so you can nap. Join a car pool so you can rest or sleep on the trip to and from work. Find ways to eliminate unnecessary chores, or perhaps relax your standards for tidiness and instead, sit down and close your eyes for a moment or two!
Caffeine stimulates milk production, but it also stimulates your baby. Caffeine finds its way into breast milk and large amounts can act on your baby as it does on you. Caffeine stays in baby’s system longer than in an adults, which will prolong its effect. Also, caffeine can make your baby irritable, as well as interfere with his sleep. One cup of coffee or a soda will not be a problem, but in large quantities (five or more cups of a caffeinated beverage a day), the levels of caffeine in breast milk can reach amounts that affect your baby.
Certain herbal supplements have been shown to stimulate milk production without any side effects to the baby. There are several herbal teas and capsules that women can take to help produce more beast milk when nothing else seems to be working.
The best prescription for maximum milk production is effective and frequent breastfeeding or milk expression, plenty of fluids, adequate calories and rest.