Cookies, oatmeal, tea – oh my! If you are like most breastfeeding mamas, you have worried about your milk supply at one point or another. I bet the first thing you did was look on the internet. You may have seen lactation cookies, supplements and more promising you more milk. If you are looking to increase your milk supply there are some very practical things you can do.
The best investment for increasing milk supply
Now, what if we told you that the best thing you could do was to save your money and skip the products? That not one of those purchases would actually make a noticeable difference in your supply. Yes, really! Instead, we say: invest that money in support that is specific to your body, your baby and your schedule by meeting with a Lactation Consultant!
Do I really have low milk supply?
You may actually find that you don’t have a supply issue after all. If your baby is producing sufficient wet and dirty diapers (6+ wet per day / 3+ dirty per day) and is gaining weight adequately with your breastmilk alone, then it is likely that you do not have low milk supply. If you do have low supply, a lactation consultant will help create a custom plan to meet your specific baby-feeding goals.
How milk supply works
Remember that your body is a complex machine and it is also incredibly unique. Establishing a milk supply is a biological process that is heavily influenced by the steps taken to get there – but it is not quick science and it doesn’t always work for everyone. For some women, this process happens very naturally and for others it does not. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to increasing milk supply because not one dyad (mother-baby duo) is the same.
Your milk is on a supply and demand process, which means your baby is literally telling your body how much to make. Sometimes baby has a mechanical issue with emptying the breast. Other times, mom is on a medication that is decreasing supply. In general, if you are feeding on demand and your baby is healthy and growing, you can supply the right amount of milk for your baby.
But I'm not pumping much
Did you know that pumping is not always an indication of the amount of milk? Some parents do not respond well to the pump. You will want to check your pump parts and be professionally sized (our lactation professionals can help). Your baby is so much more efficient at emptying the breast. So even if you pump only an ounce, your baby could be taking in much more than that.
Some practical tips
Here are some things you can do in the meantime while waiting on that lactation visit:
- Skin to skin
- Pump after feedings
- Nurse on demand
- Decrease supplementation while increasing direct nursing
- Wake baby up to "dream" feed
- Try gentle massage while feeding or pumping
- Don't go more than 2-3 hours between expressing
So, take the time to thank your body for all the work it is doing to nourish your baby and then find yourself a baby-feeding expert! There is a reason breastmilk is called “liquid gold” – it takes time, energy, patience, love and sacrifice to create. You are a force of nature and every drop you make is a gift to your baby!
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