Tips about how to build and maintain milk supply when getting started breastfeeding or suffering with low supply. Learn how to increase production!
This was originally posted on October 1st, 2017. It was updated February 15th, 2019.
Are you having trouble building and maintaining your milk supply when it comes to breastfeeding?
Well mama, I’m glad you’re here.
Because today I am sharing all kinds of tips to help you build and maintain your milk supply. I have breastfed both my littlest babes and can offer some help! Worrying about your supply is no way to approach this journey – so I hope this post helps1
1 Nurse as much as possible
Your body creates milk based on a supply and demand process. The more you nurse, the more milk your body will produce. This is why nursing on a schedule does not benefit you or baby. When you’re on a schedule, it can prevent this process from happening since you’re not following the lead of your baby and your body.
I highly, highly, highly suggest you nurse as often as you can. In the beginning, be sure to nurse at least every 2-4 hours depending on the time of day. As your baby gets older, follow her lead. Comfort nurse her when she wants, cluster feed as she wishes, and feed her whenever she lets you know that she is hungry. This will help your supply to build up and stay maintained.
2 Pump after you nurse
This one is more for those that are truly struggling with supply issues, but it does help. If your baby isn’t nursing as much as you’d like to help increase supply, you can start pumping after each nursing session. It’s good to pump for about 10-15 minutes on each side regardless of how much you are getting out with the pump. This will signal for you to start producing more milk.
Do not do this if you aren’t struggling with low supply!! If you pump on top of nursing when you don’t need to up your supply, you will end up with an oversupply and this can lead to some major medical concerns. Be absolute sure you have a low supply before attempting this.
3 Check baby’s latch
It’s very important that baby is breastfeeding effectively to signal your body to release the milk. Baby should have a very wide latch around the areola to get a good suck and significant amount of milk coming out. If your baby is struggling with this, insert your pinky finger around the corner of her mouth and push to release her latch. Help her correct the latch by tickling her lip with your nipple until she opens her mouth wide. This is perfect for latching.
Make sure your baby has a good latch at every nursing session so she can effectively signal to produce more milk.
4 Avoid nipples if possible
This is most vital in the first 6 weeks of life, but extends longer too. It is very, very, very important to avoid nipples if possible. Resist the urge to give your baby a pacifier or bottle of any kind (even those approved for breastfeeding babies). If given too early, they can cause nipple confusion in babies and this can cause some major issues with supply and ease of getting her to nurse.
When Miss M was first born, I gave in and started giving her pacifiers. Not long after, I noticed some resistance to nursing and that she was having nipple confusion. I immediately stopped giving them to her and the problem stopped. Besides, my breast is all the sucking she needs! I’m happy to let her comfort nurse as long as she wants if that keeps her happy and my milk production up.
5 Take care of yourself
This is an obvious one, but if you’re not taking care of yourself, how can you take care of baby?! You can’t. Make a huge effort to take care of yourself the best you can – stay hydrated, minimize stress, rest as much as you can, and eat a balanced diet. You need to feel good so you can take care of that baby.
If your body is dragging, it will impact your ability to maintain a healthy milk supply for your baby.
6 Lose the bra
I know lots of articles online tell you to pick the right bra so it’s not too tight and causes issues with milk supply. While I think that is true, I personally say to ditch the bra completely. I honestly haven’t worn one since before my daughter was born over 9 months ago, and it’s the best feeling there is. I use a 2-shirt method where I wear a tank top and a t-shirt over the top. I’m comfortable, my breasts aren’t restricted to cause a dip in supply, and it makes it super easy to nurse baby when she wants it without making her wait too long fumbling around with a bra.
Lose the bra ladies, you’ll thank me later.
7 Eat plenty of oats and dairy
My favorite part about breastfeeding is that I can literally eat all the oatmeal and ice cream I want. When I start eating a crazier amount of ice cream, I definitely notice my supply go up. Same goes for oatmeal. But no need to stop there – oat bread and pasta, yogurt, cheese, the works. Go for it! Breastfeeding will even burn the calories so it won’t pack on any pounds.
Use it as an excuse to eat all the ice cream you wish 😉
8 Avoid birth control, if possible
Traditional birth controls contain hormones that can cause an issue with your supply. When I first went to my 6-week checkup after having Miss M, he absolutely discouraged any form of birth control other than IUD. Personally, those things scare the crap out of me and are just not worth it at all. So, we try to avoid babies the old fashioned way and avoid all forms of birth control.
Birth control can cause dips in your supply and that wasn’t worth it to our family. However, you have to come to a decision with this that is best suited for you, your baby, and your family.
9 Take a nursing vacation
When worse comes to worse, take a nursing vacation. Spend several days in bed with your baby and just nurse. Eat some good meals, keep water nearby, and cuddle up with some good pillows, books, and an excellent Netflix series. (the Fosters is my favorite right now if you haven’t seen it yet!)
As I explained earlier, your breast works as supply and demand. So the more you nurse, the more you will produce. Doing this for 3 days straight will definitely help.
10 Give baby only breastmilk
Last but not least, give that baby breastmilk and nothing but. No solids, no water, no juice, nothing but breastmilk for the first 6 months of life. If you give them something else to fill the belly, it will replace some of the milk they were getting and decrease the supply since they are needing less. (Not to mention it has the potential to hurt little bellies!)
Be sure to keep them exclusively breastfed as long as possible to keep that supply up.
If you’re having trouble or are really worried about your supply, try these tips. It can really help to work to up that supply and keep your baby happy and healthy!
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