Are you struggling with low milk supply?
As a second-time mom, I empathize with the challenges and frustrations that come with breastfeeding. My first baby never effectively latched after we introduced the bottle early on, leaving me producing no more than 400ml a day, no matter what I tried. Determined to do better for my second child, I successfully became her exclusive food source for the first 4 months and weaned off at 7 months. Along the way, I learned valuable lessons and now I'm here to share proven tips that can help boost your breast milk supply.
Tip 1: Effective Latching - The Key to Increased Milk Supply
Removing milk more often through effective latching is the #1 way to boost your breast milk supply. While it may not be easy, it's crucial for two reasons:
Opening nipple pores: Effective latching allows milk to flow out and prevent clogged ducts. Even if it feels painful, don't stop pumping or nursing; consider getting yourself a pair of Silverette nursing cups to help soothe and heal the nipple skin so that you can continue nursing.
Signaling demand: Emptying your breasts signals your body to produce more milk. Your baby is the best breast pump, so seek help from a lactation consultant to ensure you're latching correctly every time. In the first few weeks, be prepared to devote ample time to baby and nurse on demand. This will greatly benefit your milk supply. If latching is not an option, diligent and regular pumping every 3 hours, 8 times a day is necessary.
Tip 2: Start Strong from the Beginning
The first few hours after giving birth are crucial for establishing a good milk supply. Here are five key steps to focus on:
Work on effective latching: Persist in practicing and consider supplementing with tube feeds of expressed milk or formula to maintain baby's interest at the breast. If supplementing with tube feeding, try to pump another 10-15 minutes after the session to signal to the body that baby actually required more milk (which was supplemented).
*tube feeding image credit: Intermountain Healthcare Org
Help your baby latch on: Utilize the "U" shape hold and breast compression techniques to ensure a deep latch and maximize milk transfer.
Stay Hydrated for Optimal Milk Production: Don't forget to hydrate! Drink a glass of water before and after each pump session to replenish your body's hydration levels. Staying properly hydrated is essential for milk production and is one of the most effective ways to boost your milk supply.
Hand express after each session: Hand express after each breastfeeding/pumping session to stimulate milk production and ensure no milk is left behind. Sometimes, additional milk can be expressed after massaging and gently shaking the breasts. Continue until milk stops spurting and only a few or no droplets remain. This signals to your body to produce more milk!
Optimize pumping: Massage your breasts, directing milk towards the nipple, and shake up the breasts before each pump session. Ensure that you use the correct flange size - try different flange sizes to see which feels most comfortable and yields most output. Sometimes, one side could be bigger than the other, and it's perfectly normal! Experiment with double pumping and single pumping, different timings, and different timings to find the routine that maximizes milk output. Aim for at least 6 pumping sessions a day, including 1-2 power pump sessions. For example, my personal power pump routine is 30 minutes of double pumping followed by 15 minutes of single pumping each side, which I find yields optimal milk flow. Once your milk supply is established (typically around 4-6 weeks), you can gradually reduce pumping frequency.
Tip 3: Persistence and Self-Care
Breastfeeding can be incredibly challenging, but don't be discouraged if you don't see immediate results. Stay committed to a consistent and sustainable routine of breastfeeding and pumping while taking care of yourself. Pamper yourself with breastfeeding essentials such as the Silverette nursing cups, LaVie warming pads, hands free pumping bra. Create a comfortable space for breastfeeding and prioritize your well-being. It may sound counterintuitive, but the lesser you stress over this, the more milk you will produce and the reverse holds true.
Tip 4: Set a Goal and Embrace Your Best Effort
Setting a breastfeeding goal and working towards it can provide a sense of direction and accomplishment. Remember, every drop of breast milk you provide is valuable. Do the best you can, and don't be too hard on yourself. As a mom, you have many other responsibilities besides breastfeeding, and your children won't remember the duration. My personal goal was to breastfeed for 6 months, and I ended up going for 7 months. It's okay to adapt and adjust along the way. Focus on the love and care you give them, knowing that you're doing your utmost to provide what's best for them.
Your Best Is Enough
Increasing your breast milk supply is achievable with the right techniques and support. Embrace the journey, be patient with yourself, and know that you are not alone. Keep exploring different strategies until you find what works best for you. And remember, if breastfeeding doesn't work out, there's always a good alternative – formula milk. As long as your baby is happy, healthy, and growing, that is what truly matters!
Wishing you every success on your breastfeeding journey!
P.S. Please note that these tips are based on personal experiences and advice from lactation consultants and may not work for everyone. Consult with a professional for personalized guidance.