Making More Milk - Increasing Your Milk Supply
Whether you have had a low milk supply from the beginning or feel that your supply has decreased, there is almost always a way to boost it back up. It is best to find and treat the cause of your particular situation. The following are general guidelines and cannot replace the help of working with a skilled lactation consultant.
The Baby Moon
Most of the time, low milk supply is a result of insufficient milk removal. If your baby is nursing well, bringing him to the breast more often is enough to build the supply back up. You may want to take a baby moon; take baby into bed with you for continuous skin to skin contact for 24 to 48 hours, besides offering unlimited access, skin to skin contact awakens baby's nursing instincts making a sleepy or seemingly uninterested baby wake up and nurse more often. Keep the pacifier away, all sucking should be done at the breast. Unless you have someone around to wait on you, have everything that you will need nearby, nutritious food and drinks, diapers and wipes.
Often the problem lies in the baby's inability to effectively drain your breast. Painful feedings, damaged nipples, plugged ducts and mastitis all indicate ineffective nursing. It may be a simple problem of positioning that can easily be corrected or something more complex, like tongue-tie. A lactation consultant can help you determine the problem and fix it. Meanwhile your breasts need to be stimulated to produce milk. The best way to do this is with a hospital grade electric breast pump that you can rent. It is important to develop a pump plan that you can stick to.
Keep Baby Active
We are the original pacifiers and a certain amount of non-nutritive sucking is desirable with breastfeeding. However, a baby who is actively feeding will empty the breast better and stimulate milk production. Most babies will nurse well while the milk is flowing easily. As your milk starts flowing, the babies sucking will change from short and choppy to long and rhythmic. You may notice a short pause in his sucking when his mouth is opened its widest. Your baby should swallow every 1 or 2 sucks for the first 5 to ten minutes that he is feeding. He will then intersperse bursts of sucking and swallowing with less active sucking and rests. If your milk supply is low, you may see less sucking bursts and swallows may be infrequent. If the flow is too slow your baby may just go to sleep. Use breast compression to keep your milk flowing and baby actively eating. When compression doesn't work, switch breasts. You can switch breasts back and forth throughout the feed as long as your baby keeps eating. Each time you switch, your milk will flow better.
A galactagogue is a substance that increases milk supply. These can be found in herbal preparations, foods and medications. It is safest and most effective to speak to your doctor, lactation consultant or a trained herbalist who can prescribe the galactagogue most appropriate for your situation.