Having a low milk supply is a common worry for many women after the birth of their baby. In most cases, there is no actually problem with milk production. The amount of milk produced by each woman can vary, depending on the nutritional needs of each baby at different phases of life.
In cases where milk production is low or drops suddenly, there are some simple tips that can help with increasing milk production, like increasing water intake, feeding on demand and eating foods that may stimulate milk production.
In any way, you should see your doctor if you suspect your milk supply is low. The doctor can identify if there is any issue contributing to production and start treatment as necessary.
Some simple ways to increase milk production include:
1. Breastfeed on demand
One of the most effective ways to increase milk production is to breastfeed on demand, which means to offer the baby the breast any time they show hunger cues. When the baby is attached to the breast and suckling, hormones are released to stimulate more milk to be produced to replace what was fed to the baby. You should your breast whenever the baby is hungry, especially at night time.
You should continue to breastfeed even if you have mastitis or a blocked duct, as the baby’s suction on the nipple will also help to treat these conditions.
2. Emptying the breast
Emptying of the breasts will result in higher amounts of hormones being released, which will lead to increased milk production. For this reason, you are advised to allow the baby to completely empty the breast before offering the next one. If the baby does not finish emptying a breast fully, then start with that breast at the next session.
Another options is to fully remove any leftover milk using a manual or electric pump after the baby is done.
3. Drink more water
Maternal milk production can depend on the mother’s hydration status. Breastfeeding women should drink around 3 to 4 liters (around 1 gallon) of water per day to ensure adequate milk production. Fluids like natural juices, teas or soups can also count toward daily intake.
A good tip is to drink 1 cup of water before and after each breastfeeding session.
4. Eating food that stimulates milk production
According to some studies, the production of maternal milk appears to be influenced by the ingestion of foods like:
- Grain-based drinks, like malt
These foods can be added to you daily diet, but can also be used in supplement form, Ideally, you should see your doctor before starting any types of supplements.
5. Look at your baby while breastfeeding
Looking at your baby while breastfeeding helps to release hormones to the blood that will help to increase the production of milk.
6. Try relaxing during the day
Resting as much as possible guarantees that your body will have enough energy to produce maternal milk. You should continue sitting in your breastfeeding chair even after the baby is done feeding, anad if possible, avoid doing household chores, especially those that require strenuous activity.
What can decrease milk production
Milk production can decrease due to factors such as:
- Stress and anxiety: Stress hormones can interfere with the production of milk
- Health problems: especially diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome or high blood pressure
- Medications: especially pseudoephedrine, like allergy or sinus medication
- Using pacifiers or bottles: artificial nipples can change the way the baby latches onto the breast
In addition, women with a history of breast surgery, like implant insertion, breast reduction or mastectomy, may have less mammary tissue, which may reduce overall milk supply.
Mothers may suspect that they have inadequate milk supply if the baby is not gaining weight at the expected rate or if the baby does not produce at least 3 or 4 wet diapers per day.