Boosting the quantity of your milk supply is an art to be learned – it’s a two way journey involving first, your breastfeeding technique, and secondly, foods that boost your milk supply. Find an effective guide to help you boost your milk supply and confidence while at it…
READ ALSO: 7 Common Breastfeeding Problems & What to Do
1. Breastfeed Often: It is not a myth, but a well researched and proven fact, according to La Leche League. The more your baby suckles, the more your milk ‘letdown.’ What you’re usually told is that you ought to feed on demand. However, this doesn’t work if you have a low milk supply and baby isn’t getting enough. What to do instead is to ‘latch’ baby on every 2 hours and have him suckle for some time or use a breast pump to stimulate milk flow.
This frequent suckling is bound to stimulate the glands and get the milk production going. Do not be discouraged when ‘nothing’ seems to be coming out. Keep at it and soon enough, you’re sure to say your ‘eureka!’ Once you’ve established a consistent supply of milk, your baby is getting enough milk and is well and healthy, you can then revert to your usual feeding on demand.
2. Ensure Proper Latching On: Poor latching onto the nipple will definitely bring about a low supply of milk if it isn’t dealt with appropriately. When your baby latches on to the breast properly, the jaw and tongue movement are then able to compress and release the milk ducts effectively, bringing about the desired milk ‘letdown’ and a successful journey of same from your breasts into your baby’s mouth without fuss. Again, maintaining a good latch will ensure healthy breasts without events like plugged milk ducts, mastitis, sore nipples, engorgement, and the likes. So, can this be over emphasized? Here then, is how to ensure proper ‘latching on’ to the nipple;
- place your baby at the same level as your breast. A nursing pillow and footstool may be helpful.
- once you are both comfortable, place your hand in a C-position, thumb above the areola, and fingers under the areola. You can then get baby to face you if she’s facing another way by touching her lower lip gently with the nipple, or even her cheek with your finger.
- now, she’s turned to face you, wait for her to open her mouth wide, in readiness to suck, then bring her close to you (not you to her). Once you’ve brought her close to the breast, quickly but gently guide your nipple into her mouth. Ensure that she takes in the whole of your nipple, along with 1-2 inches of your areola, into her mouth. Now, this is the position for a proper latch. Watch closely to ensure that she’s not just sucking but that she’s actually taking in milk and swallowing to get nourished. If she isn’t swallowing, press your breast gently in a downward motion to help direct the flow of milk into her mouth.
- if you find that your baby has not latched on properly, break the suckle and start afresh until you’re able achieve the proper latch.
- also, note that apart from the ‘traditional’ latch described above, there’s also the ‘assymetrical’ latch, favoured by women who have large boobies and are concerned about the position of the baby’s nose, and possible choking during breastfeeding. Still much like the traditional method, the only difference is that the baby’s nose is lifted farther off the breast than in the traditional latch.
3. Empty Each Breast: It’s necessary that you keep feeding from one breast until it’s empty (relatively) before you move on to the other breast. If for instance your baby while still on the other breast, decides she’s had enough, just note which breast it is she fed from last and start from that breast when next you have to feed her.
4. Express Some If You Must: Expressing milk helps to ensure that your let down continues. You can also express the left over milk in a breast to empty it when your baby is satisfied. Get yourself a premium brand of electric breast pumps. If you have nipple issues (too large, inverted or else), you can ask for appropriate nipple shields to help you along. Pump for about 20 minutes after feeds, even if milk is no longer coming out. The ‘pumping’ is your main goal. It will set off the chain reaction that will ensure the supply of milk.
5. Eat Breast Milk Boosting Foods: Such foods are called ‘lactogenic’ foods or ‘galactagogoues.’ Now, with a combination of constant latching, pumping, and eating these lactogenic foods, all other things being equal, you ought to be well set on the path to hitch free breast feeding. Find a list of top 5 lactogenic foods;
- oatmeal – this food is said to help relaxation, which is necessary for the production of oxytocin, a major hormone in the production of breast milk.
- spinach and all dark green, leafy vegetables (the local ‘ugu’ and ‘efo’ come to mind easily). They contain calcium, iron, vitamins K, A, and folate. Also they are known to contain phyto-oestrogen, a plant version of the oestrogen hormone required in the maintenance of breast tissue health and lactation.
- brown rice – this whole grain promotes the production of serotonin in the brain, which in turn helps the production of prolactin, an important hormone involved in lactation.
- water – as a nursing mother, you should not allow yourself get dehydrated.