Today marks the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week, which "calls for concerted global action to support women to combine breastfeeding and work." Breastfeeding is immensely rewarding, but it can also be incredibly difficult for some moms. It takes more time, energy, and patience than most new moms anticipate. If your milk supply is low, it can be even more stressful. Fortunately, there are a ton of options for easy, natural ways to increase your milk supply at home. Don't throw in the towel on breastfeeding your baby -- give these 10 techniques the old college try, and get in touch with a lactation consultant for professional advice as well.
1. Nurse frequently
Nursing often, regardless of how much milk you’re producing, will help tell your body to make more. Switch sides during each feeding session as well. This will help keep your little one awake and encourage him to eat more. Feeding on both sides also helps even out your milk supply.
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2. Get skin-to-skin contact with your baby
Spend a day (or two, or three, if you can) in bed with your little one and get as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. Putting your baby against your chest will cause your body to release hormones that kick off milk production. Sometimes, a little “nursing vacation” is necessary to jumpstart your milk making machine.
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3. Drink plenty of water
Being dehydrated is one of the first mistakes new moms make, and it contributes to problems with your milk supply. Your body needs additional water to help produce milk, so make sure you’re drinking more than the recommended minimum. If it’s hot or you’re very active, consume a little extra water (and perhaps some electrolytes) to make sure you’re properly hydrated.
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4. Eat your oats
Oats have long been said to improve breast milk production. They are also nutritious and easy to digest, so they’re essentially a perfect food for new mothers. Start your day with a dish of overnight oats, or snack on oatmeal cookies when hunger strikes throughout the day.
Photo by *cathyloves20*
5. Avoid mint
Peppermint and wintergreen can decrease milk supply. If you’re addicted to peppermint patties or starlight mints, you might want to find another treat to indulge in while you’re trying to stabilize your milk supply.
Photo by steph_wex
6. Snack on protein
When you were pregnant, your care providers probably told you to eat a lot more protein each day than you did before you were expecting. Although you don’t need quite that much when you’re nursing, you do need it. Snack on a handful of almonds or peanuts to boost your protein intake.
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7. Add some brewer’s yeast to your diet
Adding brewer’s yeast to your lactation snacks is another way to boost your supply. It’s highly nutritious and a great benefit for new moms. As an added bonus, brewer’s yeast also helps boost your energy and can even help stave off postpartum depression. Sounds like a triple-win, doesn’t it? These lactation cookies are a great way to get your daily supply of brewer’s yeast.
(If you get frequent yeast infections or are diabetic or hypoglycemic, talk to your medical care provider before taking brewer’s yeast).
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8. Take fenugreek supplements
Fenugreek is a maple-scented herb that is common in Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s probably also the most widely used supplement for breast milk production. You can add fenugreek seeds to your food, but capsules are the best way to get a mega dose, and they are fairly inexpensive. Take 3-4 capsules of fenugreek twice a day, until your skin smells faintly of maple. You’ll have more milk, and possibly a craving for pancakes!
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9. Eat more garlic
Eating garlic is known to improve production of breast milk. In India, a drink of milk and water simmered with garlic is traditionally given to new moms following delivery. What’s more, babies seem to enjoy the flavor that garlic lends to breast milk, making them more excited about nursing.
Photo by Mo Riza
10. Consider using a breast pump
In addition to frequent nursing, regular pumping sessions can help stimulate milk production when there is a problem. By pumping immediately after a feeding, and then 20-30 minutes later, you’ll signal to your body that more milk is needed and hopefully nature will respond. Pumping is a common method for new moms to use to increase their milk supply if they aren’t able to continue nursing (i.e. after going back to work, etc).
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