WHAT IS BREAST MILK
If you’re worried that you’re not producing enough breast milk for your baby, you’re not alone.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that approximately 75 percent of new mothers start off breastfeeding their babies, but many stop either partially or completely within the first few months. One of the most common reasons for this is worry about insufficient milk production.
For many women, your milk supply is just fine. However, if you do need to increase your breast milk production, there are ways to do it.
Read on to learn how to increase your breast milk production using several evidence-based methods and some practices mothers have sworn by for centuries.
How to increase breast milk production
1. Breastfeed from both sides
Have your baby feed from both breasts at each feeding. Let your baby feed from the first breast until they slow down or stop feeding before offering the second breast. The stimulation of having both breasts breastfed from can help increase milk production. Pumping milk from both breasts simultaneously has also been found to increase milk production and result in a higher fat content in the milk.
2. Lactation cookies
You can find lactation cookies in stores and online on Amazon or you can make your own. While there’s no research available on lactation cookies specifically, some of the ingredients have been linked to an increase in breast milk. These foods and herbs contain galactagogues, which may promote lactation. More research is needed, though.
Some of these include:
- whole oats
- wheat germ
- brewer’s yeast
- flaxseed meal
Easy lactation cookie recipe
- 2 cups white flour
- 2 cups oats
- 1 tbsp. wheat germ
- 1/4 cup brewers’ yeast
- 2 tbsp. flax seed meal
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Mix the flax seed meal with water in small bowl and let soak for at least 5 minutes.
- Cream the butter and white and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add egg yolks and vanilla extract. Beat on low for 30 seconds or until ingredients are combined. Stir in flaxseed meal and water.
- In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and stir just until combined. Fold in the oats.
- Roll dough into 2-inch balls and place 2 inches apart onto a baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges start to golden. Let the cookies stand on the baking sheet for 1 minute. Cool on a wire rack.
You also can add dried fruit, chocolate chips, or nuts for some variety.
3. Other foods, herbs, and supplements
There are other foods and herbs that may increase breast milk production, according to the Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation. Some, such as fenugreek, have been found to take effect in as little as seven days. These foods and herbs include:
- brewer’s yeast
- blessed thistle
Always talk to your doctor before taking a new supplement, especially when breastfeeding. Even natural remedies can cause side effects.
4. Pump between feedings
Pumping between feedings can also help you increase milk production. Warming your breasts before pumping can help make you more comfortable and pump easier, too.
Try pumping whenever:
- You have milk left over after a feeding.
- Your baby has missed a feeding.
- Your baby gets a bottle of breast milk or formula
5. Breastfeed more often
Breastfeed often and let your baby decide when to stop feeding.
When your baby suckles your breast, hormones that trigger your breasts to produce milk are released. That’s the “let-down” reflex. The let-down reflex is when muscles in your breasts contract and move the milk through the ducts, which happens shortly after your baby begins breastfeeding. The more you breastfeed, the more milk your breasts make.
Breastfeeding your new baby 8 to 12 times a day can help establish and maintain milk production. But this doesn’t mean that more or fewer feedings indicates a problem.