I’m a big breastfeeding advocate. “Breast is best,” they say, and I think many moms see a lot of logic in feeding their baby the most natural way possible. But what happens when breastfeeding doesn’t come as naturally as you might expect? What happens when milk doesn’t flow as freely as it ought to? There are fortunately a ton of ways to increase breastmilk supply to make the process of feeding your baby as easy as possible.
First things first! Your body simply doesn’t operate up to its full potential without water, and milk supply is bound to suffer for dehydrated moms. Carry water with you at all times and be sure to drink plenty to replace the fluid you lose when you breastfeed. Avoid salty foods and sodas, which tend to dehydrate the body.
Long-touted as the breastfeeding miracle food, many moms notice a dramatic increase in their breastmilk production on days when they have oatmeal for breakfast or as a snack. Doctors aren’t exactly sure why this happens, but it’s believed to be related to the cholesterol-reducing properties of oat bran.
Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle and Alfalfa are known to boost breastmilk production when taken in high doses. Many natural foods stores also carry teas specifically made with these herbs to help increase breastmilk production.
Pumping directly after breastfeeding your baby tells your body that a greater supply of milk is needed, and this is a great way to boost milk production or get it jumpstarted if baby isn’t getting enough initially. Store any pumped milk in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for up to six months before feeding it to the baby using a bottle or oral syringe. Good pumps can be bought from reliable brands such as Lansinoh or Medela, or rented (with disposable flanges and other attachments so they’re totally sterile) at almost any hospital with a birthing center.
Many OBGYNs and pediatricians will prescribe moms struggling with breastfeeding a hormonal prolactin-booster such as Reglan or Domperidone. Moms should be very cautious about taking Reglan, as it is known to increase the risk of depression. Domperidone is difficult to obtain in the United States, as it can only be ordered through compounding pharmacies with a special prescription.
Some moms simply can’t produce enough milk for their babies due to previous breast surgeries or conditions such as Insufficient Glandular Tissue. A suitable supplement can usually be found with the help of your baby’s pediatrician, with hypoallergenic formulas available for babies with intolerances to certain foods.
Have you had difficulty with breastmilk production? How did you deal with it?