How to increase lactation or breast milk and Recipe for Increasing Milk Supply
It is a wonderful decision to breastfeed your baby, because of the short and long term benefits for both mom and baby. However, there are times when it might be a bit of a challenge to produce breast milk on demand in order to meet a newborn’s need. It is not unlikely to have challenges lactating in way that meets a newborn’s need. However, there are very simple and easy methods in which one can stimulate milk production.
- Approximately 3 to 5 days after giving birth is when a mother’s milk is expected come in. If the milk production is low, the best option at this point is to increase one’s water consumption prior to breastfeeding. Therefore, one should drink at least a glass of water before nursing.
- If you find that increasing water consumption does not aid in stimulating milk production, then applying a warm towel is a great way to increase milk flow. First sterilize two small towels in hot water; let it cool some what, and then apply them to both to the breast. Remove both towels after 3 to 5 minutes and then breast feed. This should increase the flow of milk dramatically
- In addition, it is very important to eat a balanced meal when breastfeeding. This is essential in stimulating milk production. Moreover, the baby is also getting a balanced meal and you are maintaining your health and strength for all the work that the body or better yet, the healing the body must do.
- More so, a walk after eating will also increase milk production, because you are increasing the digestive process and burning energy which increases the secretion of gastric juices.
- Additionally, if all else does not give the results that you need; there is one method that is sure to stimulate milk production – fenugreek seeds and fennel tea are a great for stimulating milk production almost immediately. One can purchase 1 pound of fenugreek seeds at any health food stores. In making it, pour a tablespoon of fenugreek seeds into a small pot, and then add 2 cups of water into the pot. Then turn stove to medium-high heat and boil.
- After 15 to 20 minutes remove the pot from the stove and set it aside to brew. Let it brew for about a half hour or until the tea turns dark brown to black before drinking. One can add sugar or honey to taste, however that’s optional.
- Likewise, fennel tea can also be purchased at any health food store. Follow the instructions on the box or you can boil it the way you do any other teas. However, always make sure that you allow the tea bag to brew in the hot water before removing tea bag from cup. Then sweeten to taste.
It’s not just about pumping after feeds anymore. There are many, many things that women with low milk supplies can do to make more milk for their babies. Diana West, IBCLC and her co-author Lisa Marasco, IBCLC have outlined them in their upcoming book, The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk (due out November 2008). During a September 2008 interview, Diana West gave Suite readers a sneak peak at the latest findings.
Why Isn’t Baby Getting Enough Milk?
In her experience, West says that between 95 and 100 percent of breastfeeding mothers worry about their supply at some point: “People with the chunkiest babies worry about whether their babies are getting enough.” Many health professionals are not supportive of breastfeeding, friends and family are suspicious about it, and some “baby training” techniques create problems by scheduling and managing feedings. The first thing a concerned mother needs to do is assess whether or not the baby is getting enough to eat.
If the baby is indeed not getting enough, the next step is to find out why. In most cases, says West, it has to do with how breastfeeding is being managed. In a lesser number of cases it has to do with the baby (such as latch or tongue tie), or a physiological or hormonal issue with the mother.
Herbs and Medications to Increase Milk Supply
The herbal stand-by for increasing milk supply has long been fenugreek, but West shares that there are several herbs out there that seem to be even more successful in boosting lactation. Says West, “Fenugreek and blessed thistle are losing favor compared to shatavari, goat’s rue and fennel.”
As far as prescription medications go, with domperidone (motillium) being difficult to obtain in the U.S. and the negative side effects of Reglan (metacloprimide), there have not been many options for nursing mothers. But West gives women hope: “There is new research on the horizon using prolactin to increase milk supplies.” Researchers are also looking further into how taking progesterone during pregnancy improves lactation tissue. Says West, “We are just beginning to explode with ways to help moms.”
Foods that Help or Hinder Milk Production
West also talks about foods that can have a positive, or sometimes a negative, effect on milk production. Oatmeal and fibrous foods can increase milk supply, while some foods like sage, parsley or peppermint can inhibit it.
Warns West, “Sage is extremely effective in reducing milk production, as well as the parsley in tabouli. Of course, we’re talking large, large quantities. The peppermint oil in breath mints and Altoids can also cause problems.”
Alternative Therapies to Increase Milk Supply
In her book, West also details the alternative treatment methods proven to improve milk supply. Research studies have shown that chiropractic can be effective, and yoga may be as well. There is also quite a body of research on acupuncture and acupressure’s effect on lactation.
As far as the old wives’ tale about the “nervous mother” not having enough milk, West laughs a little and replies: “That’s not necessarily true. We’re stronger than that biologically, but there are circumstances where moms feel anxiety, and that can inhibit milk production.” It can be helpful for a mother to nurture herself, to work on relaxing into breastfeeding or to use specific techniques, such as breast compression, to help with letdown.
Supplementing Breast With Bottle
In some cases, a woman with a low milk supply will need to supplement her baby with donated breastmilk or formula in order to ensure her baby gets adequate nutrition. While the at-breast supplementer has been key to many mothers’ success in supplementing a low milk supply, West assures moms that there are new techniques for bottle feeding that can reduce flow preference. These techniques help protect the breastfeeding relationship at the same time allowing the mother to supplement with the bottle.
These new approaches to dealing with a low milk supply give mothers hope that they can overcome their lactation challenges and have a successful, fulfilling breastfeeding experience that lasts as long as they wish it to. More detailed information on these findings is available in Diana West and Lisa Marasco’s new book, The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk
Recipe for Increasing Milk Supply
If you are already on one of the Newman-Goldfarb Protocols, skip to step 2.
- If the mother is an adoptive breastfeeding mother or an intended mother and is not already taking domperidone, it is a good idea to have a look at the Accelerated Protocol now.
- If the mother has a medical contra-indication for taking the birth control pill she may want to consider domperidone and herbs alone. She can start with domperidone 10 mg 4 times a day for 1 week and then if she is not too tired and her stomach isn’t too upset, increase the domperidone to 20 mg 4 times a day. It’s a good idea to take domperidone 1/2 hour before meals and at least an hour before pumping. The mother should not start the herbs until she is comfortable with the domperidone…have her wait at least a week at the maximum dose of domperidone before adding the herbs or the mother can get a really upset stomach. And if the mother is already taking herbs…have her stop until she is comfortable with the domperidone.
- The mother should empty the breasts 8 to 12 times in 24 hours by either pumping, breastfeeding or both. She can keep a cooler with an ice pack by her bed at night so she can hand express (see appendix 1) her milk (if pumping is not an option) into a bottle and keep it in the cooler until morning when she can transfer it into a bag and either use it in the supplementer if she is breastfeeding or freeze it. You can also use this cooler idea at work if you don’t have a fridge available to you. Freeze the milk when you get home or use it in the Lact-aid. Keep in mind that it may take a while for your breasts to get the message. You could be pumping and getting very little for days and then suddenly…boom you have a lot more milk!
- When the mother is ready to add the herbs, the recommended dosages are: Fenugreek seed (610 mg per capsule) and Blessed Thistle herb (390 mg per capsule). 3 capsules of each, three times a day with food.
- Drinking water to thirst is good for milk supply as it prevents dehydration from the body’s normal excretions. Avoid caffeine, it’s a diuretic.
- Many of the women on the protocols have found that eating oatmeal for breakfast 3 times a week is good for milk supply.
- Above all, if the mother is breastfeeding, the number 1 most important thing is to have a good latch and position. If the baby is not Starting Out Right, he/she will not be able to get the milk that is available no matter how much the mother has. It is a good idea to work with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant who will check the baby’s latch and suck as well as teach the mother how to use the supplementary feeding device.According to Dr. Newman, “When a baby is getting milk (he is not getting milk just because he has the breast in his mouth and is sucking), you will see a pause in the chin after he opens to the maximum and before he closes, so that one suck is (open mouth wide–>pause–>close mouth). If you wish to demonstrate this to yourself, put a finger in your mouth and suck as if you are sucking on a straw. As you draw in, your chin drops and stays down as long as you are drawing. When you stop drawing, your chin comes back up. This pause in the chin represents a mouthful of milk when the baby does it at the breast. The longer the pause, the more the baby got. Once you know that, you know also when he is not getting milk. And once you know that, you know that 20 minutes on each side, for example, is nonsense. A baby who does this type of sucking (open mouth wide–>pause–close mouth), steadily for 20 minutes won’t take the second side. A baby who nibbles for 20 hours will come off the breast hungry.”
- If the mother has to supplement the baby’s feedings, she should use a supplementary feeding device. This will help her milk supply while at the same time keep her baby breastfeeding. It may seem silly to state the obvious but a baby learns to breastfeed by breastfeeding. If the bottle is introduced, it will teach the baby that there is another way to get nourishment which can cause a problem at the breast. This doesn’t mean the mother can’t ever go out and leave her baby with a caregiver to handle a feeding. Consider other ways of supplementing such as the infant cup and limit outings entirely in the first 6 weeks and to a maximum of once in 24 hours in the next 6 weeks to 3 months. Breastfeeding a baby takes commitment and time. The rewards are worth the effort!
- Don’t make yourself nuts over this. There is more to breastfeeding than breastmilk. Your baby only needs a small amount of breastmilk with each feeding in order to benefit. For more information on increasing milk supply, see “Dr. Newman’s Protocol for Not Enough Milk” at this site: breastfeedingonline.com.
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