Are you considering weaning your child from breastfeeding simply because there isn't enough milk? Latest studies show that you're not alone; many mothers decide to wean their babies prematurely during the first year due to decreased milk supply.
So why isn't there enough milk? How can you increase your milk supply to meet the needs of your baby?
Milk Supply Decreases with Breastfeeding: Myth or Truth?
The short answer is myth. While logic says that the more you use something, the faster you will deplete it – breast milk defies common logic. The more you breastfeed your baby, the more milk your body will produce.
Contrary to common belief, lack of breast milk is the direct result of inefficient milk removal. If your baby is new to breastfeeding, he/she will not be as efficient in removing milk. For more extra milk to be generated, current milk must be removed regularly.
How can I increase my milk supply?
- Pumping: Our number one tip to increase milk supply is to pump milk regularly especially after feeding to remove excess milk. This helps your body naturally increase milk supply. Doctors recommend pumping early in the morning, as this is the peak of your daily milk production. (Click here for more tips on choosing a milk pump)
- Nursing: Nurse your baby frequently to increase milk production. The ideal number is 6-8 feedings each day in the first 6 months.
- Hydration: Staying properly hydrated throughout the day is critical to increased milk production. Drink to your heart's content; if you're properly hydrated, your urine should have a light, clear color.
- Rest: Mothers who suffer from insomnia are more likely to have reduced milk supply. Get as much sleep as you can when your baby is sleeping. This will ensure you're well-rested.
- Avoiding stress: Relax and have your favorite healthy snack, watch your favorite movie or listen to your favorite music to reduce stress levels.
- Routine checkups: Routine checkups are critical. Hormonal imbalances – especially thyroid or pituitary imbalances – can decrease milk supply. Your doctor can ensure your hormones are in check and ideal for milk supply.
- Pacifiers and bottles: Avoid giving your baby pacifiers until he/she is efficient in breastfeeding. Many babies find it easier to suck on a pacifier and/or feed from a bottle than to breastfeed. Your child must master nursing before using a bottle or pacifier.
- Smoking: Avoid smoking while breastfeeding. Heavy smoking has been linked to low milk supply and other breastfeeding problems such as vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
- Diet: Certain foods will help increase your milk supply. Try to incorporate the below items in your daily diet:
- Nuts especially almonds and walnuts
- Oatmeal and barely are an excellent source of carbohydrates
- Tropical fruits like melon and cantaloupe as they are rich in fluids
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt will replenish your calcium
For more tips, check out our Nutrition Section.