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How To Increase Your Milk Supply

When will my breast milk come in?

Your mature milk will come in about 2 to 5 days after your baby is born. Before your mature milk comes in, your body makes a small amount of breast milk called colostrum. Colostrum is a special type of milk that is rich in nutrients and antibodies (proteins that protect your baby's immune system).

What can cause my breast milk supply to decrease?

  • Medicines: Certain allergy, birth control, and pain medicines can lead to a low supply.

  • Breast problems: If your breasts become engorged or infected, your milk supply may decrease. Engorgement can occur when your breast milk comes in, causing your breasts to become swollen and painful. If you do not empty your breasts completely, your milk supply will decrease. Sore nipples may make you breastfeed less, which can cause your milk supply to decrease.

  • Stress: As a new mother, you may have increased stress, be very tired, and worry more. This may cause you to have a decreased supply of breast milk.

  • Breast surgery: You may have a decreased milk supply if you had surgery on your breasts. This includes having breast implants or having surgery to decrease your breast size.

What are the signs that my breast milk supply may be low?

  • Your baby looks as if he is losing weight.

  • Your baby is 4 or more days old and has fewer than 6 wet diapers a day.

  • Your baby is 4 or more days old and has fewer than 3 to 4 bowel movements a day.

  • You do not hear your baby swallowing while he is feeding. Your baby also may seem tense.

  • Your baby shows signs of hunger more often than usual or acts as if he did not get enough milk after a feeding. He also may not sleep well.

  • You do not feel or see changes in your breasts, such as fullness before feeding and softness after. You should see these changes within 5 days of giving birth.

  • Your baby becomes jaundiced (skin and whites of the eyes are yellow).

What can I do to increase my breast milk supply?

  • Feed your baby 8 to 12 times each day. Feed your baby as soon as he acts hungry. Signs of hunger include putting his hand to his mouth, making sucking noises, and moving more than usual. You may need to wake your baby to breastfeed more often until your milk supply increases. Do not set a time limit for how long you breastfeed your baby. Let your baby feed from each breast every time you feed him.

  • Make sure your breasts are emptied completely after feedings. The amount of milk you make may slow down if milk is not completely emptied from your breasts. Express milk with a breast pump after feedings to empty each of your breasts completely. A breast pump may also help stimulate your breasts to make more milk. Breast massage may also help stimulate your breasts and increase your milk supply. Pump your breasts every 2 to 4 hours if you are away from your baby. Pumped breast milk can be stored and used for a later feeding.

How can I care for myself while I am breastfeeding?

  • Follow a healthy meal plan. Follow a healthy meal plan that provides the amount of calories and nutrients you need while you are breastfeeding. Your body needs extra calories and nutrients to keep you healthy and support milk production. A healthy meal plan includes a variety of foods from all the food groups. You need about 8 to 12 cups of liquids each day to prevent dehydration and keep up your milk supply. Drink a beverage each time you breastfeed to help you get enough liquids. Drink liquids that do not contain caffeine. Examples are water, juice, and milk. Ask your caregiver for more information on breastfeeding and your diet.

  • Manage your stress. Increased stress can decrease your supply of breast milk. Relaxation can help decrease your stress and help you feel better. Deep breathing, meditating, and listening to music also may help you cope with stress. Talk to your caregiver about other ways to manage stress.

  • Ask about medicines. Talk to your caregiver before you take any medicines. This includes all prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Some medicines may decrease the amount of breast milk you make. Other medicines may enter your breast milk and affect your baby.

  • Do not smoke. Smoking can decrease the amount of breast milk you make. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Nicotine and other harmful chemicals are found in cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco and snuff). These go into your breast milk when you smoke. Your baby is exposed to these chemicals through breastfeeding and inhaling cigarette smoke. Your baby can have problems such as ear or lung infections and asthma if he breathes in cigarette smoke. Talk with your caregiver if you smoke and need help to quit.

  • Keep a diary. Write down each time you breastfeed your baby and when you pump your breasts. Make a note of how much milk you pump out each time. You can also write down when your baby has wet or soiled diapers. A diary can help you and your caregiver know if your baby is getting enough milk.

Where can I go for support and more information?

  • Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
    140 Huguenot
    New Rochelle , NY 10801
    Phone: 1- 914 - 740-2115
    Phone: 1- 800 - 990-4226
    Web Address: www.bfmed.org
  • La Leche League International
    957 North Plum Grove Road
    Schaumburg , IL 60173
    Phone: 1- 847 - 519-7730
    Phone: 1- 800 - 525-3243
    Web Address: http://www.lalecheleague.org

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • Your baby is 4 or more days old and has fewer than 6 wet diapers each day.

  • Your baby is 4 or more days old and has fewer than 3 to 4 bowel movements each day.

  • Your baby is not gaining weight or looks as if he is losing weight.

  • Your baby is feeding fewer than 8 times each day or does not seem to be eating enough during each feeding.

  • Your baby seems more fussy than usual or seems as if he does not have the energy to breastfeed.

  • Your breasts do not feel full, or you are not leaking breast milk within 5 days of giving birth.

  • Your baby has new or increased yellowing of his skin or the whites of his eyes.

  • You feel very depressed.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan how you are going to feed your baby. To help with this plan, you must learn as much as you can about breastfeeding. Ask your caregiver questions about breastfeeding. You can talk with him about the best way to feed your baby.The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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