One of the most searched for topics on the internet for new mums is breastfeeding.
Not surprising, as this is one of the first things you need to do once you deliver. It’s natural to worry that you’re not producing enough. In fact, "How to increase breastmilk supply?" is one of the most common questions.
While your baby’s weight gain often reassures everyone that things are in order, some mothers experience a low milk supply. As a mother of two children, whom I breastfed for a total of three years, this has been a hot topic within my network. While no magic solution exists out there, some things certainly help with your supply.
Looking to increase breast your breast milk supply naturally? Here are our best tips.
1. Avoid long gaps in between feeds
Milk supply is directly proportional to demand. The more the baby suckles, the more milk your body produces. Dr Sherry Bux, a medical doctor and a mother of three, suggests feeding on demand instead of following a schedule, especially during the first few months.
"Avoid long gaps in between feeds. If the baby isn’t hungry, then pump to keep up your supply". For some mothers, feeding on demand may not be possible if you're back to work. In this case, pump milk at the office".
How: The more your baby consumes, the more milk your body will produce. If your baby does not empty your breasts, pump the remaining milk and store it.
2. Stay Hydrated
On average, it is suggested we need at least 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day. The Institute of Medicine notes that the median amount of fluids typically consumed by breastfeeding mothers is 3.1 litres (13 cups).
Regardless of whether you are breastfeeding, it is important to keep the body hydrated. Busy mums often ignore thirst if there is nothing to drink nearby. Watch out for signs that you are not getting enough fluids, such as darker or stronger smelling urine and constipation (hard, dry stools).
How: Carry a 1-litre bottle of water with you, whether at home or the office. This will ensure you always have water handy and will guide you on drinking enough. You don't need to force fluids, drinking to satisfy your thirst is usually sufficient.
3. Eat Enough Calories
You will often hear that breastfeeding mums need an extra 500 calories a day. Much like water intake, this is a ballpark amount. It’s logical that you need some extra calories if you are breastfeeding in comparison to whatever amount you were eating pre-pregnancy.
Rather than counting the exact number of calories, however, the best way to make sure you are getting enough is simply by listening to your body. If you’re hungry, you need to eat!
How: If you are constantly hungry, increase the amount of food you are eating, and ensure that it is good quality food that supplies your body with nutrients. Watch what you eat to fuel your body. This is all about your own and your baby's wellbeing. Don’t worry about losing weight in the first few months after giving birth.
4. Indulge In Well-Balanced Meals
More important than calories, is making sure that you consume the right foods. Taking care of a newborn can be overwhelming. If you have other children to take care of as well, it's common to down prioritize your own diet. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself snacking on foods that aren’t nutrient-dense.
What constitutes a well-balanced meal? A mix of protein, carbohydrates and fats. Half a plate of vegetables, a quarter protein, a quarter grains, with a serving of fat is a good guideline. Having well-balanced meals is not so much about boosting milk supply, but more about giving you the energy and nutrients your body needs to carry out all your mummy duties, which includes breastfeeding. Moreover, what you eat will affect the quality of your milk, and you want to ensure that your baby is getting good quality milk.
What constitutes good quality milk? A few of the main nutrients are protein for mental and physical growth, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) for healthy brain development and calcium to develop their muscle, bones and neurological system.
How: To ensure you are getting an abundance of nutrients, eat a varied diet that is fresh (i.e. not processed foods), home-cooked and full of colour. The Naturopath Johanna Arshad recommends that your diet includes fish (especially cold-water fish that is low in mercury), organic meat and eggs, organic dairy products, legumes, nuts and seeds, cold-pressed oils (especially flaxseed), avocado, seaweed, tahini, and coconut milk/cream.
5. Experiment with Foods That Can Boost Milk Supply
Can certain foods boost milk supply? I feel this is very personal and what works for some may not work for others. I am not saying that there aren’t foods that can help boost milk supply - just that it comes down to trial and error. Whilst I was breastfeeding my first child, cheesecake seemed to work for me! Whether it was actually the cheesecake or the fact that it made me happy eating the cake that boosted my supply remains open to discussion...
I also drank a herbal tea that contained various herbs (fennel, fenugreek seeds, milk thistle, nettle and raspberry leaf) and sometimes felt my breast swell a bit.
How: Find a recipe for lactation cookies and have these cookies on hand. They make for a great snack and may boost your milk production. If you're a fan of tea, try a herbal tea made with fennel and fenugreek seeds.
Pegaga by PurelyB also helps mums boost their milk supply. Composed of some of nature’s most powerful herbs and fruits, it's a healing, 100% natural blend of traditional Asian superfoods most effective in helping new mothers recover after giving birth. In addition to boosting breastmilk supply, it helps you cleanse your body of accumulated toxins, improve digestion, immunity, promote skin health and elasticity.
Learn more about why our clients are crazy about Pegaga
6. Do Not Stress
You’ve gone through nine months of carrying life and then giving birth. A process that can be rather exhausting, yet exhilarating at the same time. And now you need to feed this little human! As a new mum, you wish it would be as simple as your child latching on to your nipple and suckling away. While this may be true for some, the reality isn't always as simple.
If you are experiencing difficulties in the first couple of days, try to remain calm, and remove any negative thoughts of not being able to feed your child. Breastfeeding is new to you. While it's rarely said out loud, it can be uncomfortable, and even painful! Be kind to yourself and give yourself time to ease into this new skill.
How: If you feel overwhelmed, seek professional help with a lactation expert. Make sure to find one you connect with. You need someone who is patient and understands your needs.
Above all, don’t compare yourself to other mums. You are you, and you will do the best you can for your baby. This is a very special time and one to be enjoyed. Remember to take care of yourself, when you are tired, your output is low in anything that you do. Be kind to yourself, don’t worry if the laundry basket is full. What’s important is a well-fed, well-rested mama.
Curious about how our customer-favorite Pegaga by Purely B can help boost your breastmilk quality and supply naturally?