A quick and easy way to increase breast milk supply after delivery.
I went from fear of not being able to breastfeed, to fear of having an oversupply of breast milk.
The key to learning how to increase breast milk supply, starts with understanding how milk production works to begin with. While there are some health reasons that may affect milk supply, one of the most important factors that determines breast milk supply is your baby. That is due to the process of supply and demand. Many people believe that breast size, let down, and prenatal leakage has to do with how much milk you will supply to your baby, but those are not determining factors.
Before milk is produced, your breast will make a clear/yellow liquid called colostrum, also known as (transitional milk). You may only produce 1-4 teaspoons of colostrum for the first few days. That is completely normal and provides your baby with everything he/she needs in their first days of life. Milk will start to come in 2-5 days after the baby is born.
How to influence an increase milk supply immediately following birth.
This is the time that you will want to latch your baby most! It may seem like your baby isn’t getting enough milk, but it’s important to remember that your baby’s stomach is very tiny following birth and will increase in size daily.
Another thing taking place right now, is your hormones and baby are telling your body how much milk to produce. You will want to allow baby to latch often and for long periods of time. I also encourage skin to skin while nursing for the first few days and immediately after baby is born.
Unless you’re medically unable, keep baby on your breast for a minimum of 45 minutes to an hour immediately following birth. I know there will be family and loved ones waiting to congratulate the new mommy and newborn, but try and ask them to wait a few hours or until the following day to visit.
This will give you and your baby time to bond comfortably and practice skin to skin without having to worry about covering yourself and making yourself look presentable for others. This time is intimate for you, your partner and your newborn.
How oxytocin plays a part in increasing breast milk supply?
Understanding oxytocin, will help you understand why it’s so important, that you and your baby be kept together within the first few hours and days following birth. Oxytocin is a reflex that starts when the mother senses that her baby is near, hungry/ready for a feeding and when your baby is suckling.
Therefore, even if your baby isn’t nursing or hungry and may be comfort nursing( nursing for comfort, rather than to feed), just having your baby latched and suckling will encourage milk production.
Eventually, the oxytocin reflex conditions to the mother’s feelings, which is why mothers may leak milk when she sees, smells, touches, thinks about or hears her baby cry. Hence, the reason why skin to skin contact and bonding is encouraged throughout breastfeeding, but especially while milk is starting to come in.
Nurse on Demand; high demand = high milk supply
Although it may be overwhelming to have your baby attached to your breast for long periods after giving birth, doing so will naturally increase milk supply! Your baby is part of the determining factor of how much milk your body should produce. For example; if you delivered twins or multiple babies, you would obviously need more milk. The amount of milk being expelled from your breast, as well as the frequency in nursing, will help your body determine the amount of milk to produce.
Therefore, if that means latching your baby for 5 hours straight the first or second night of his/her life, remember that it is only temporarily and you’re signaling your body to make more milk; higher demand=higher supply.
Don’t worry that you’re over feeding your baby, feeding on demand is exactly what it sounds like. A baby who is full will stop nursing or reject the breast. If nursing for long periods of time is painful, seek help from a nurse or lactation consultant and invest in a natural ingredient, nipple cream.
How pumping affects milk supply?
Wait until after breast milk has come in to start using a breast pump. Using a breast pump withing the first 3-5 days following birth can take away from the time you could have your baby latched. It can also confuse you into thinking you aren’t producing enough milk for your baby causing premature worrying and supplementing.
Again, you may only produce 1-4 teaspoons of colostrum in the beginning. That is enough for your baby’s tiny tummy in the first few days, but in a baby bottle or milk bag, may not look like much. Often, this causes moms to feel like they aren’t enough and can’t feed their baby, when that isn’t at all the case.
After your milk comes in.
Once your breast milk has come in, it’s okay to hand express or pump for 5-10 minutes, once-twice per day as needed. Pumping longer than 10 minutes or completely emptying the breast after each session, can sometimes lead to oversupply. This is why some recommend waiting until your milk regulates to your baby’s feeding schedule.
Though, if you’ve spent a lot of skin to skin time nursing your baby within the first few days, it’s likely that you’ll have a heavy supply of breast milk. Therefore, not expressing will signal to your body, that you have enough (or too much) milk and to make less. You’ll also run the risk of becoming engorged, which can be very painful and sometimes cause mastitis [an inflammation of breast tissue which can lead to an infection].
If you’re baby is emptying the breasts well, there’s no need to pump or express milk unless you’re planning to return to work soon. Otherwise, pump for 5-10 minutes when breast are full (and after you’ve already offered the breast to your baby).
Remember that your baby’s tummy, is still too small during the first week that milk comes in, therefore, he/she may not be able to empty the breast in just one session. Continue to nurse on demand, express milk when needed and wait for your milk to adjust to your baby’s feeding schedule.
So, taking all that into consideration, here a few key points to keep in mind.
- Latch baby and encourage skin to skin immediately after birth (unless medically unable).
- If baby isn’t latching immediately, still encourage skin to skin and continue to offer the breast to your baby.
- Nurse for a minimal 45 minutes to an hour immediately after birth, if your baby wants to nurse longer (comfort nursing) allow him/her, the suckling and bonding will help supply.
- Nurse on demand.
- Express milk when needed .
- Your baby is most beneficial for increasing milk supply.
- High demand=high supply!
Remember that YOU are enough!
If you found this article helpful, you may also like “10 Essential Tips on How to Prepare for a Natural Birth”