Tag Archives: Breasts

Increase and maintain milk supply tips

As painful as it was at time when my breasts were engorged, the thought of having an abundance of milk to give my baby was fulfilling to say the least. Then there was days where my breasts just looked deflated so I was unsure as to whether my son was getting enough milk or not. Not to mention when I had to express milk if I was leaving my son with a relative and fifteen minutes of pumping would only result in 2 ounces of milk. This was disheartening as this happened on more than one occasion.

How is breast milk made?

The nipples contain many nerve endings which are triggered when the infant suckles the breast and causes a release in oxytocin and prolactin into the mother bloods stream. The prolactin hormone acts as the milk making tissue and increases the milk supply whereas the oxytocin causes the breast to release the milk that is present in the breast.

This release is known as the let-down reflex or the milk ejection reflex which is a normal reflex elicited by stimulation of the nipple resulting in milk being released from the glands of the breast. Therefore the more a baby suckles, there will be a surge of breast milk released from the glands resulting in the more milk bring produced.

 

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Factors that can decrease milk supply

There are a number of factors as to why some mothers can’t feel like they can maintain an adequate supply of milk but be reassured even if your baby cries after a feed that doesn’t mean that they didn’t get enough milk, what is important is that you child is gaining weight. Pumping 2 ounces on some occasions and 4-5 ounces on other days I understand how this can make you feel as a mother and here could be some reasons why this may be;

  • Birth control- estrogen containing contraceptives have been linked to low milk supply
  • Breast surgery- Supply can be reduced due to the cutting of milk ducts and nerves.
  • Herbs- Such as black walnut, parsley, chickweed can suppress milk production
  • Suckling difficulties- It’s important that your child latches onto the breast correctly while feeding, (See below).
  • Not feeding at night- Prolactin levels are higher at night therefore this is the best time to feed and increase your milk supply.
  • Use of dummies- Some research suggest that dummies can discourage breastfeeding but more research is required to conclude this advice. (see below)
  • Scheduling feeds- If a baby is hungry but isn’t scheduled yet for a feed the mothers breast milk remain full therefore milk production will slow down.

Remember

empty breast = more milk 

 

Does the food and liquid I consume effect milk supply?

Contrary to popular belief there are many blogs, posts and websites that have such headings ’10 foods that will increase your milk supply’, ’25 foods that will increase your milk supply’ the list is really endless. Having had a browse of these miraculous milk producing foods there isn’t a particular food that is going to increase your milk supply but they will however help. According to Irene Zoppi an internationally board certified lactation consultant and clinical education specialist for Medela mothers should do the following.

Keep pumping: Some mothers notice a decrease in milk supply once they return back to work so one solution to this would be to pump whenever possible; before your baby wakes up, after each feed at various times, through the night especially if your child has stopped feeding through the night this can be known as power pumping. Power pumping tricks your body into producing more milk as you are constantly emptying your breasts.

The method

The best time do use this method would be when your milk supply is at its peak which is usually in the morning.

  • Pump for 20 minutes and rest for 10 minutes
  • Pump for another 10 minutes and rest for 10 minutes
  • Pump for 10 minutes

An hour or so of much needed uninterrupted mummy time is required.

Feed and feed some more: This method is pretty simple as you just need to feed on demand. The more your baby suckles the more breast milk is produced. Simple supply and demand.

Keep hydrated: According to Zoppi drinking more water to increase your milk supply is a myth. Of course this is not to say that you shouldn’t drink the recommended 8 or so glasses per day but there is no need to go overboard. Stick to this rule of drinking when you are thirsty or when you feel hungry because we can at times mistaken hunger for thirst. I would personally recommend drinking coconut water which contains natural electrolytes including potassium and sodium and is perfect for hydrating the body.

Check your latch: An improper latch could result in a number of issues but one of them is that you child wont feed properly therefore they wont get enough milk. Have a read of my post on breastfeeding pros and woes for the correct technique a step by step guide.

Relax: What ever you enjoy doing to relax. Do it. As much as you can even if its for 30 minutes a day. This could be a bath, to read a book , using aromatherapy and meditating in a quiet space or even watching a film. When we get stressed our bodies react with a flight or flight response. This can then lead to muscles becoming tense and an increase in respiratory and heart rate.

I highly recommend the book by Dr Herbert Benson who coined and wrote the book ‘The relaxation response’ which describes the scientific benefits of relaxation.

Herbal remedies and/or prescriptions: I am a herbal tea fan and my two go two herbs I would consume are fenugreek and fennel.  Just like pharmaceutical medication, herbs should also be taken with caution. It is advised to slowly increase your intake of fenugreek while breastfeeding until your urine and sweat smell like maple syrup. Discontinue if you have any adverse reaction to these herbs and try an alternative. I don’t agree with the one glove fits all method and there are many alternatives available as there is over 390,000 species of vascular plants (369,000 are flowering plants) on this planet so i’m sure there is more than these two that can help you.

Use of dummies/ bottles? I had to add a question mark to this point as after much research it is difficult to say as to whether giving your baby a dummy/bottle will result in a decline in feeding. The World Health Organisation warns mothers that giving breast fed babies dummies can discourage breastfeeding whereas as study carried out by scientists from Orgegon Health and Science University found the opposite. The researchers studied a small control group of  2.249 newborn babies up until the age of 14 months and found that there was a 11% decline in breastfeeding rates once the dummy was removed whereas there was an 10% increase in babies who breastfed and received formula. Thus is does depend on the child and you as the mother will know whether your child is thriving from your feeds.

🙂 x

References

Breastfeeding, T. (2018). The physiological basis of breastfeeding. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK148970/ [Accessed 6 Jan. 2018].

Llli.org. (2018). LLLI | Pacifiers: Yes or No?. [online] Available at: http://www.llli.org/nb/nbnovdec95p172.html [Accessed 6 Jan. 2018].