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How To Increase Your Milk Supply
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
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).
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider (PHP) as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Reasons your breast milk supply may 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.
Signs that your 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).
How to increase your 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 to care for yourself while you are 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 PHP 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 PHP about other ways to manage stress.
- Ask about medicines. Talk to your PHP 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 PHP 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 also can write down when your baby has wet or soiled diapers. A diary can help you and your PHP know if your baby is getting enough milk.
For support and more information:
- Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
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
Contact your PHP 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.
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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.