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How to increase your breastmilk supply

Often nursing mothers worry at some point about whether their babies are getting enough milk. There isn’t a convenient way to measure breastmilk intake, unless you pump, and it’s easy to be insecure about your supply. There’s nothing quite as frustrating as feeling like you are not producing enough milk for your baby, and a common reason mother stop breastfeeding early is because they feel they have an insufficient supply.

How do you know if your milk supply is adequate?

Mayo Clinic offers a few signs that can help reassure breastfeeding moms their baby is health and eating well.

  • Consistent weight gain after the first week.
  • Full diapers. Typically six or more wet diapers a day.
  • Two or more stools each day. Color and consistency of stool is also important. It should be seedy or watery and after the fourth or fifth day, it should be yellow.
  • Good nursing technique. You should hear swallowing and can see milk in your baby’s mouth. They will suck rapidly which helps release the milk. If you see your baby sucking rapidly but not swallowing slowly and rhythmically, your baby may not be getting enough milk.
  • Full bellies. Your baby should seem content and well fed after feeding sessions. If they are lethargic or constantly screaming for food, they may not be getting enough milk.

What causes a low milk supply?

There are various factors that cause a low milk supply including: Previous breast surgery can sometimes affects milk production as can factors such as premature birth, maternal obesity, and insulin-dependent diabetes.

Stress can also diminish milk supply. The worry moms have about their milk supply can make the potential problem even worse. Keep in mind insufficient breastmilk production is rare. Most women make one-third more breast milk than their babies typically drink, according to the Mayo Clinic.

  • Waiting too long to start.
  • Not nursing often enough.
  • Use of certain medications.

Seven tips to increase breastmilk supply

The Mayo Clinic offers seven tips on how to boost milk production. There are also foods you can eat to help your supply including grains and certain fruits and vegetables. It’s important for your baby’s health and growth to maintain your milk supply during breastfeeding. Every woman’s situation is different, so if you’re concerned about your milk supply, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant.

  • Breastfeed when possible. If moms wait too long, it can contribute to a low milk supply. Hold your baby skin to skin right after birth and your baby will likely nurse within the first hour after delivery.
  • Breastfeed often. For the first few weeks, breastfeed your baby at least every two to three hours round-the-clock.
  • Be alert to feeding problems. If your baby nurses on only one breast at a feeding, it’s okay, but if this happens regularly, your milk supply will decrease. Pump the other breast to relieve pressure and protect your milk supply until your baby begins to take more at each feeding.
  • Don't skip feedings. If you spend time away from your baby or choose to give your baby formula, pump your breasts to help protect your milk supply.
  • Use medications with caution. Certain medications decrease milk supply, including medications containing pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Zyrtec D). Your healthcare provider might also caution against certain types of hormonal contraception, at least until breastfeeding is firmly established.
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine. Drinking moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol can decrease milk production. Smoking can have the same effect.