Sometimes new moms wonder or even worry about their milk supply and whether their body can make enough breast milk to feed their baby.
The good news is that most mamas make exactly the right amount that their babies require.
Your body is also able to adapt your supply to suit your baby’s growth spurts, or taper off if you’re combining solid food with breast milk.
However, if you want to make sure you have enough milk, there are things that you can do to increase your supply. So first let’s get into WHAT affects your milk supply.
While not common, having a true low breast milk supply can actually happen. But this is a result of an underlying issue that prevents your body from making enough milk.
True low milk supply can be caused by a number of things.
The first is exhaustion and extreme stress. Between lack of sleep and adjusting to the baby’s schedule, rising levels of certain hormones such as cortisol can dramatically reduce your milk supply.
Low milk supply can also be caused from a low functioning thyroid. If you have a low functioning thyroid, known as hypothyroidism, it can interfere with milk production.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can also be responsible. PCOS can cause low milk supply due to a lack of prolactin, which is an essential milk producing hormone.
A difficult birth or recovery – for example when a woman hemorrhages after birth, the stress and trauma of the situation can inhibit the initial milk supply if you had to be separated from your baby for medical treatment
Certain medications like cold and flu and allergy medication – best to avoid these medications if you can. Pseudoephedrine, the common ingredient in these over-the-counter medications, can affect milk supply in the early weeks.
Breast cancer can also affect milk supply. Although breastfeeding is a protective factor, many breast cancer treatments if you were diagnosed can affect a woman’s milk supply or negatively impact baby.
Now to your baby. Is your baby latching properly? An incorrect latch will interfere with supply. If possible, stop using pacifiers, nipple shields and bottles. Also, try to avoid top up feeds with formula. These all interfere with breastfeeding, so while you are still getting established it’s best to avoid these back ups in the early days.
Now that I’ve covered the underlying issues for low milk supply, here’s what you can do to increase your milk supply. Here are 4 tips.
Number 1. The quickest and most effective way to increase your milk supply is to feed your baby more often. If you do this, your supply will adjust within 24-48 hours to accommodate more frequent feeds.
Number 2. Resting when the baby rests – getting good sleep is essential for your body to produce breast milk
Number 3. Staying hydrated (drink plenty of water) and eat nutritious foods to support your body during this process.
Number 4. Including natural herbs, for example Fenugreek & Fennel can also help with supply. Just make sure to check with your midwife or health professional before just to make sure it’s right for you.
More often than not, your breastmilk supply will match up with your baby’s demand and you have nothing to worry about. If you are regularly feeding your baby, your body should produce enough milk to support their growth and development!