Whether it happens right from the get-go or it happens later into the nursing cycle, new mothers that are breastfeeding worry about their milk supply at one point or another, even if they don't actually have a low milk supply.
However, while some fret and eventually end up giving up breast feeding to make sure their babies are getting enough to eat, mothers can be empowered by the knowledge of knowing what to do in order to establish and increase their milk supply. It can be done and just keep going. Here's some tips to get you started.
Start Breastfeeding Early
The longer you wait to start nursing, the less milk your body will produce as it thinks you don't need it. Don't wait too long to start nursing your baby, or you may not be able to. Babies can start nursing as early as an hour after delivery. Nurse early and often to assure your milk production is up to snuff.
Of course it also does take a while at times for milk to come in. It can take a few days or a week for that flow to come and then boom...baby's favorite food. Don't give up mama, just be a little patient those first four days.
Get Enough Rest
This is kind of asking for the moon with a newborn in the house, but the amount of rest we get does affect how much milk we produce. If you are extremely sleep deprived, you will produce less milk than while well rested. Be sure to get as much sleep as possible. Dads can also help breastfeeding moms by doing some extra things around the house and holding baby while you get some naps in.
Eat Well and Frequently
There are a lot of foods that can help with milk production like oatmeal, carrots, fennel, and nuts. However, instead of limiting yourself to a few foods, a well-rounded, healthy diet with plenty of protein and leafy greens is best.
Cut down on the sugar and carbohydrates though, they won't be doing your milk supply any favors. Watch out for smoothies with too much juice and sugar. You can make super lactation yummy smoothies at home with good quality, whole ingredients.
It is also worth noting that you may be excited to drop any baby weight now that the baby is out of there, but dieting will severely limit your milk supply. Exercise is great, but dieting will see you producing less milk.
So now don't be confused. You can eat to your hearts content all the delicious and healthy proteins, good fats, and veges that you can. As long as your calories are dense with nutrients and not loaded with calories from bad fats and sugars...your weight won't go up and you may find yourself looking and feeling much healthier than ever.
As this is your first child, you won't know it yet, but breastfeeding occasionally feels like they are sucking all the moisture out of you. In a way, they are, but if you want to keep providing, you need to stay hydrated. Keep at least one bottle of water by your breastfeeding spot to quench your thirst and make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Pump It Out
Pumping your breast milk not only allows you to have comfortable breasts when your baby isn't hungry, but it also allows you to keep a stockpile of breast milk to feed your child. Pumped breast also feel so much better if you decide you are going to exercise.
However, one of the most important effects that pumping your breast milk can have is that it helps you to keep producing and produce more. After all, the more breast milk you are using, the more breast milk you will produce.
Get a good quality pump, some easy to pump in nursing tank tops, and you're set to pump when ever and where ever.
Store the extra breast milk for hassle free feedings.
Use Both Breasts
If you favor one breast during breastfeeding, switch it up. Once your baby slows down its feeding, switch to the other breast and let your baby nurse until they either fall asleep or detach. This leads to longer feeding sessions that result in more milk production.
Practice Skin-to-Skin Feeding
Skin-to-skin contact, or Kangaroo Care, with you newborn has a number of great developmental benefits, but they can also help with breastfeeding. Not only do newborns breastfeed for longer sessions when in contact with their mothers, but they nurse for, on average, three months longer. The skin contact stimulates hormones in your body that allow you to create more breast milk, longer.
This can be done from day one. Oh and don't leave dad out. After baby has nursed let him lay on dad's chest skin to skin for a while so you catch that...wait for it...lil nap. We know those are hard to come by.
Go on a Nursing Vacation
This may sound silly, but for many new mothers, it works really well. The idea of a nursing vacation is that you and your baby spend a couple of days hanging out just watching Netflix, or going to your local coffee shop and reading a book, taking a chill out session at the park, or strolling in the mall, and letting your baby nurse whenever they want to.
This is not only a good way to bond, but it allows you to let your baby sleep next to their favorite food source which can stimulate your body to produce more milk.
For nursing outside of the house just grab your favorite nursing hoodie and tops that are super simple to access breastfeeding any where, like the ones from Bun Maternity. They have quick nursing access features and look really cute with anything. Fuss free and your baby gets fed on demand.
This should be obvious. Our body tends to shut down non-essential processes when we are stressed, and producing breast milk is considered non-essential. Take a break, breathe deeply, and just relax.
Get Help Early
If all these tips aren't helping you produce more milk, then it is best to consult a doctor or breastfeeding specialist right away. You may have clogged milk ducts or some other completely treatable problem that will save you some long nights of stressing over if your baby is getting enough to eat. A IBCLC near you or your physician is the best go to for professional advise and help.
KEEP GOING MAMAS! You're doing great!!