From my reading, there are several positive steps you can take if you decide that your milk supply is low. This can be done at the weekend when you spend most time with your baby.
- Nurse or pump frequently. Plan to nurse at least every 1 1/2 to 2 hours during the day and at least every 3 hours at night even if you must awaken your baby. Time your feedings from the beginning of one to the beginning of another. If your baby is available to nurse, this is preferable to pumping as he will better stimulate your breasts to produce more milk.
- Allow the baby to nurse on each side until he pulls off himself or goes to sleep.
- Offer both breasts at each feeding.
- Although nursing is preferable, if the baby cannot nurse directly at the breast, use an electric pump preferably for double pumping (such as the Lactina or Pump In Style). Double pumping has been shown to increase Prolactin levels. Prolactin is the hormone which stimulates milk production. Pump for 10-15 minutes per session. Longer sessions have not been proven to be any more beneficial at increasing supply.
- Along with nursing, you may want to add another pumping session or two sometime during your day. You also may want to add a few extra minutes (5-10) of pumping after the baby has finished nursing.
- Allow the baby to meet all of his sucking needs at the breast. Avoid any bottles or pacifiers during this time. Your baby's need to suck ensures that he spends adequate time at the breast to stimulate your supply.
- Snack often on foods rich in protein and calcium.
- Drink enough to satisfy your thirst. Forcing fluids is not necessary and may have the opposite effect.
- Rest as much as you can. Consider taking the baby to bed with you for the time period. The rest will benefit you and the close skin-to-skin contact may encourage him to nurse more often.
- Some mothers have found that the herb, Fenugreek, is helpful for increasing milk supply. It works best when combined with increased frequency of nursing and/or pumping. You can find it at your local health food store or nutrition store. The dosage is 2-4 capsules 3 times a day. Most moms notice an increase in supply after using it 1-3 days. It is safe for your baby. While taking it you may notice that your perspiration and urine smell like maple syrup as Fenugreek is used to give artificial Maple syrup its odor. Some moms report diarrhea while taking it that quickly resolves once they stop taking it. If you suffer from asthma, your symptoms may become worse with the Fenugreek. Other herbs often recommended for increasing milk supply are Blessed Thistle and Alfalfa. For some mothers a combination of herbs seems to work better than one herb alone.
A breastfeeding mother requires 1200mg calcium a day. That is equivalent to the amount found in four glasses of low fat milk. If your calcium intake falls below the recommended level, than your body will draw on bone stores of calcium, thus depleting your bones.
While 70 grams of protein is required for nursing mothers. For example, this is equivalent of two glasses of milk, a 5-ounce chicken breast, and two cups of yogurt.
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