Breast milk is the natural food for newborn babies which fulfills the nutritional requirements of the infant. Breastfeeding is beneficial for both the mother and the child. Breast milk can help protect babies against short and long-term illness. The baby gets antibodies from the breast milk which fortifies the immune system of the child. As opposed to formula, a mother can breastfeed her child anytime and anywhere. The act of breastfeeding protects the mother from the risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Low breast milk supply
Breast milk supply is considered to be low if you are unable to produce enough milk to meet your baby’s normal growth and development needs. This is generally a temporary situation and can be overcome with appropriate breastfeeding support and management. The more milk is removed from the breast, more will be produced and vice versa. A woman’s supply of breast milk can be low if she faces medical problems such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), pre-diabetes and diabetes, hypothyroidism, or if she is on blood pressure medications or oral contraceptives.
Tips to increase breast milk supply
In case of low breast milk, taking the following measures can help increase the supply:
Position yourself comfortably during breastfeeding so that your baby is attaching well and removing milk efficiently from the breast.
Be prepared to breastfeed your baby more often; at least 8 times in 24 hours.
Take turns to breastfeed your baby from either breast; offer each breast twice for feeding.
Make sure that the breasts become empty after each feed or pumping session; express after breastfeeds to ensure this.
Ensure milk removal from your breasts is done no longer than within 5 hours. It is best done by your baby sucking at your breasts otherwise using a hand or electric pump.
When your baby is feeding, aid milk flow by compressing your breasts. This will also encourage more effective sucking.
Gently massage your breasts before and during each feed.
Offer your baby extra night-time feeds or more often during the evenings. This is because prolactin levels are higher at nights so more frequent feeding at night can result in an increase in breast milk supply.
Encourage more skin-to-skin contact with your baby because it stimulates the hormones, prolactin and oxytocin which help the body to produce and release more breast milk.
Avoid the use of bottles and pacifiers during the initial days as introducing a pacifier just before breastfeeding can lead to a painful latch and nipple soreness for the mother.
Drink a lot of water as breastfeeding can make you thirsty and follow a healthy diet plan, without skipping any meals.
Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption.
Practice mind relaxation techniques such as yoga to reduce stress.
Focus on self-care; go for a relaxing back massage.
Listen to relaxing music. This can help increase milk supply and fat content of milk.
Take proper rest in between feeds.
Frequent stimulation of breasts by breastfeeding or pumping during the initial days and weeks following birth of the baby, is very important to ensure adequate supply of breast milk. With time and effort, you will definitely see an improvement in the quantity of your breast milk supply. The ideal way to ensure a healthy supply of breast milk is to start breastfeeding early and at frequent intervals, after making sure that your baby is latched on correctly. As a last resort, when all else fails, you can consult your healthcare provider who may prescribe some medicines (galactogogues) that can increase the hormone, prolactin, which can stimulate breast milk production.
KM NU hospitals have the best lactation consultants who can guide you in a professional way and answer all your queries related to breastfeeding, especially if you are a first-time mother. If you are facing any issues while breastfeeding your child, consult the best lactation consultant at KM NU hospitals. Your baby will be glad that you took this step!
Breastfeeding benefits both baby and mom. Centers for disease control and prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/features/breastfeeding-benefits/index.html. Accessed on 10 October 2023.
Breast milk supply, how to increase. Cincinnati children’s. https://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/b/breast-milk-increase-supply. Accessed on 10 October 2023.
Educating breastfeeding mothers on how to boost milk supply. University Hospitals. https://www.uhhospitals.org/services/obgyn-womens-health/patient-resources/pregnancy-resources/Breastfeeding-Guide/breastfeeding-tips-to-increase-your-milk-supply. Accessed on 10 October 2023.
How to increase breast milk supply. Pregnancy Birth Baby. https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/increasing-your-breast-milk-supply. Accessed on 10 October 2023.
How to increase milk supply. Raisingchildren.net.au. https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/breastfeeding-bottle-feeding/breastfeeding-challenges/increase-supply. Accessed on 10 October 2023.
Author : Dr. Palanirajan P