One of the universal questions new moms ask me is – “How can I increase breastmilk supply for my baby?”
If you are a new mom – and want to increase your breast milk supply, here’s what you must know:
Fact 1 – Supply is based on demand
The amount of breast milk produced is based on demand. You must tell your breasts that there is a lot of demand. Then your breasts will increase breast milk production.
Here is what you can do to convey demand –
- Feed frequently
If you feed frequently your breasts will produce more milk. Do not feel inadequate and guilty if your baby finishes one feed and immediately demands another. This is called cluster feeding. Babies feed like this during growth spurts because this increases breastmilk production to match their needs.
- Pump between direct feeds
When your baby is asleep between direct feeds – you can still convey milk demand to your breasts by pumping between feeds. Pumping between feeds will increase breast milk production.
- Avoid long gaps between feeds
It is best to feed on demand so that your breasts learn to produce as much milk as your baby demands. This means that you need to stay with your baby as much as possible.
If you are likely to be away from your baby – pump to maintain the same frequency of feeds.
Fact 2 – Breast milk is produced when breasts are empty
The presence of milk in the breast prevents the formation of more milk. Therefore, it is most important to empty the breasts completely.
Here is what you can do to empty your breasts –
- Do not keep shifting breasts during a feed –
Allow your baby to empty one breast completely at one feed.
- Pump at the end of each feed
After the end of each feed – after your baby has unlatched or fallen asleep – pump for a little while. This empties the breast completely and prompts the production of more milk.
- Make sure you have a good latch
A good latch is essential for your baby to suckle well, draw more milk and empty the breast. Ask for help to learn the correct latching technique.
Babies take a while to learn how to latch well. And during this time the breast milk production may decrease. If you are struggling with latching – you can pump to empty your breast so that more milk is produced.
Fact 3 – Your brain needs to know that your baby is around to produce the hormones that are required to produce breast milk
- Stay skin to skin
The more skin to skin time you have with your baby – the more milk you will be able to produce.
- Look into your baby’s eyes
When you are feeding – keep looking into your baby’s eyes. This will produce the oxytocin required for let-down.
- Don’t panic when your baby cries – just feed
Crying is your baby’s way of telling your brain that they require milk. Your brain responds to crying by secreting the hormones required for breastmilk production.
Don’t feel inadequate and guilty when your baby cries. Just pick up your baby and start feeding.
- Prepare for feeding even if you are pumping
If you are away from your baby and pumping – smell your baby’s clothes, look at your baby’s pictures and listen to the recorded sound of your baby’s crying or gurgling. This will push your brain to secrete the hormones required to produce breast milk.
Fact 4 – You are the source of breast milk – look after yourself.
- Drink water
- Eat a healthy balanced diet
- Avoid toxins
Even as you try to increase your breast milk supply, there is a simple way to find out if your baby is getting enough breast milk. Just do a diaper count. It will tell you how well your baby is feeding.
Have any questions for our expert, Dr. Debmita Dutta? Please share your questions in the comments! Our expert will definitely clear all your doubts.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr. Debmita Dutta is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant and the founder of the website WPA whatparentsask.com – She is based in Bangalore and conducts Parenting workshops at schools and corporate organizations. She also conducts prenatal classes for expecting parents and infant care classes for new parents.