How To Increase Breast Milk ProductionLuke Coutinho
Do you know what a newborn exactly needs? Yes, the baby needs food from the nourishing breasts of its mother and a sense of security and warmth in her arms. And, breastfeeding satisfies it all. The feeling of those tiny fingers tickling your breast while feeding is indeed divine.
Breastfeeding is one of the most important periods in both a mother’s and a child’s life. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after birth. But, there are also various biological factors leading to low breast milk production.
But, before we go further, it is important to know one of the major reasons for the early weaning of infants. It is called “Perceived Insufficient Milk (PIM)”. As per a research conducted on breastfeeding women, 35% of mothers wean early, primarily due to PIM based on certain baby cues, which is an unsatisfactory way to conclude to the inadequacy of milk supply.
Thus, understanding the actual signs of low milk production is very important.
- Poor weight gain: Ideally a baby loses 5 – 7% of their birth weight in the initial few days and regains it by 10 – 14 days post- If they do not gain weight, it could be an indicator of insufficient milk production.
- Dehydration: Persistent dark coloured urine is a common sign of dehydration in infants which could denote lower milk
- Insufficient wet or dirty diapers: Frequency of peeing and pooping is very important to understand if the child is getting enough milk. Infants urinate as often as every 1 to 3 hours or as infrequently as every 4 to 6
Some major biological factors which may cause a low milk supply include a history of hormonal imbalance before pregnancy, mammary hypoplasia (insufficient milk-producing tissue in the breasts), pregnancy-induced hypertension, and diabetes, history of breast surgery or severe breast trauma and intake of birth control or hormonal pills. Emotional health is also a deciding factor in the supply of milk.
At times, post-partum, the milk ducts take a while to fully develop to produce adequate milk. Patiently continue feeding for a week to 10 days for it to mature completely, and start supplying as per the baby’s needs.
Ways to boost the supply of breast milk:
Let’s look at some ways that can help boost the supply of breast milk in new mothers.
- Breastfeed more often to increase the supply of milk. It is a demand-supply relationship. The suckling action produces hormones that boost milk production. Also, stop feeding when the baby shows signs of being full. Never force-
- Skin-to-skin contact with the baby promotes the release of oxytocin, the hormone that boosts milk production. You can try undressing the baby and removing your top so that you come in close contact with the little
- Pumping using the traditional hand pumping method or a breast pump helps. The more the breasts are signalled to produce milk, the more is the production. Stick to simple hand pumping methods in case of sensitive
- Make sure the baby is nursing on both sides to ensure proper emptying. You can wear a rubber band or bracelet on the wrist corresponding to the side you started nursing
- Keep a check on your food intake and include well balanced main meals with some energy-dense mid meals regularly. Make sure you are well hydrated. Do not forget to take your supplements
- Galactagogues are substances that promote milk production. Fenugreek seeds (methi seeds), edible gum (Gondh), Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari), dry ginger, moringa leaves, fennel seeds, sesame seeds, dill leaves, holy basil (tulsi), gourd vegetables, steel-cut oats, drumsticks, cinnamon, nuts and dry fruits are great galactagogue containing foods that are used for years now. You can make lactation laddoos or cookies using some of those key ingredients. But, always check with your lactation consultant (Recipe : Sesame Edible-gum Ladoos )
- Foods that can interfere with lactation include sage, parsley, peppermint, caffeinated products and alcohol. Certain other foods depend on case to case Make sure you avoid them or consume them minimally.
If at all, you are required to supplement breast milk with formula foods, please don’t hesitate. Check with your doctor and go ahead with it. Remember, the health and wellbeing of the baby and you are very important. Never at any point should the mother feel guilty about doing that.
Keep trying the suggested remedies, but make sure that you stay happy and focus on the baby and your wellbeing.
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