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How to increase breastmilk supply

woman breastfeeding her baby

One of the most common reasons for Mama's either weaning or introducing formula as a top up whilst they still breastfeed (called mixed feeding) is a concern for their breastmilk supply. Many Mum's worry whether their baby is getting enough breastmilk for their requirements from breastfeeding alone. So today I'm going to share some practices we can be adopting to help encourage and recognise a healthy supply of breastmilk?

Whether your baby is breastfeeding, mixed feeding or formula feeding we all just want the best for our babies. It’s human nature that we want our babies to be well satisfied and content after a feed and to be getting all the nutrients they require for healthy growth and development. So before I go on, please know that there is no judgement here from me about parents feeding choices. We all try to do the best we can with the knowledge and the situation we are given. The following advise is aimed at the Mama who wants to continue breastfeeding but is unsure if they have enough milk supply to satisfy their baby. We look at ways to increase breastmilk supply.

It’s important to know that often mums who think they don’t have enough breastmilk actually do. It can be either they’re not sure what a breastfed baby’s normal behaviour is or they perceive changes in their breast to be signs of low milk supply. We called this perceived low supply and this is different to an actual low supply. Often addressing a perceived low milk supply is about education rather than needing to change anything about how you feed your baby. So let’s explore this. How do we know when a baby is well fed and hydrated. Below are the signs to look for.

Signs your baby is getting enough breastmilk from a breastfeed:

  • Newborns breastfeed at least 6-12 times in 24 hours. Breastfed babies will feed frequently and that’s normal. Feeding every 2-4 hours is normal.
  • Baby is having 6 or more wet nappies in a 24 hr period, the urine is not concentrated and you can feel this nappy is heavy with urine.
  • Consistent weight gain and growth noted at the MCHN visits.
  • Soft loose poo’s. (Hard formed poo’s can indicate that a breastfed baby may be a bit dehydrated).
  • Baby wakes for feeds rather than needing to be woken, and being alert and active before their feed.
  • Your baby seems relatively contented and satisfied after a feed.
  • Baby looks well to you. Baby has good skin tone and colour, and does not appear pale or lethargic.

It’s also worth noting that many women describe a softening of their breasts a few weeks after birth as their breastmilk matures. Women may feel softer or more empty in the breast than they had felt before, but it’s a normal change that happens and it’s not indicative of milk supply. Rather than focusing on the difference in the feel of the breast look at the signs your baby is getting enough milk.

Now let’s cover some ways we can increase breastmilk supply. Generally speaking, for most women their breastmilk supply will adapt to the level of demand. That is when there is an increased demand for milk the body should start making more volume. So if you feed your baby more frequently and for longer periods of time there is more demand for milk and your supply should start to increase. The following may also help increase breastmilk supply.

Ideas on increasing your breastmilk supply:

  • Encourage baby led feeding (don’t limit feeds or restrict baby to a routine or feeding regime. Let your baby lead the way).
  • Ensure baby is getting a good deep attachment on the breast whilst feeding, therefore is feeding efficiently.
  • Finish feeding and emptying on the first side before you move baby to feed on the second side. This may mean baby spends more time feeding on the first side than the second, but you’ll swap the first side for the next feed, so the both breasts and getting there same amount of stimulation over the day.
  • Start each feed with some skin to skin contact.
  • Room share. That is share a room with your baby when sleeping, that way you are close and on hand to breastfeed more easily overnight. It’s recommended to room share with your baby for the first 6-12 months.
  • Try to avoid using dummy’s/pacifiers for the first 6 weeks whilst you establish a good milk supply.
  • Trust in your body’s ability to feed your baby, but if you are concerned about your milk supply seek help and support.
  • Ask your Maternal Child Health Nurse (Child and family health Nurse in states other than Victoria) or see a Lactation Consultant for a breastfeeding consult. Also the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s website or hotline can help. See the links below.
  • And finally, it’s reassuring to know you can’t over feed an exclusively breastfed baby. So adding more feeds into the day won’t overfill your baby, but will increase the volume of milk you make.

And finally you could try incorporating some Galactogouges (breastmilk boosting foods and ingredients) into your diet to increase breastmilk supply. These work well in conjunction with the methods described above. Try the Franjo’s kitchen range, homemade Breastfeeding biscuits (see recipe here) or Breastfeeding supplements or Tea’s.

Helpful Links:

November 10, 2020

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