How To Improve Milk Supply

Writer : Devi A/P Samudramu
Edited by: Darchaini A/P Rajagopal
Checked by : Dr Hairin Anisa Bt Tajuddin

All mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their babies exclusively from birth until 6 months of age and thereafter, continue until the child is 2 years old. If you are worried about not producing enough breastmilk for your baby, you are not alone. Many mothers can produce sufficient milk. However, if mothers need to increase their breastmilk production, the following are the methods:

More Demand, More Supply:-

  1. Newborn babies should breastfeed 8-12 times per day during the first month. Frequent feedings help stimulate milk production during the first few weeks.
  2. Breastfeeding should be on demand to help ensure babies get sufficient milk, especially during the first few weeks.
  3. Mammary glands make milk in response to the frequency of suckling. The more frequent a baby breastfeeds, the more breastmilk will be produced.

Pump between Feedings:-

Pump between breastfeeding sessions: either 30 minutes or 60 minutes after nursing the baby, or at least one hour before starting to breastfeed. Pumping more frequently [8-12 pumping sessions per day] until both breasts are softened, will boost milk production for most mothers. To help establish a good supply of milk, pump at least twice between 1 am to 6 am as the level of the milk-producing hormone called prolactin, increases early in the morning.
Taking advantage of this will increase milk production. Utilising a double electronic pump could save time and may boost milk production efficiently.

Breast Massage while Nursing:-

  1. A breast massage can help stimulate milk flow and increase milk production. It is also one of the most effective techniques used to relieve breast tenderness and pain due to engorgement. Mothers who massage their breasts regularly are less likely to experience breast-related problems and are encouraged to massage their breasts in a circular motion from the top of their breasts towards the nipple to prevent clogged milk ducts.
  2. A breast massage can also help reduce engorgement, mastitis and breast pain. In order to relieve engorgement, the mother must first apply a cold compress. Taking warm showers while doing a breast massage simultaneously also helps with milk flow and can help to relieve the engorgement.
  3. Practicing the correct technique of hand expression (marmet) after a breast massage and a pumping session, will reduce engorgement. Futhermore, hand expression also encourages the Milk Ejection Reflex (MER) which prevents clogged milk ducts.

Eat and Drink More:–

Breastmilk contains many important components that suit babies’ needs for the first 6 months of life. In addition, the fat and calorie content of breastmilk changes during a feeding session and; according to the baby’s age and nutritional requirement. It has been estimated that all breastfeeding mothers need to increase their intake by 500 calories per day from a balanced diet.

Herbal Galactagogues:-

These are consumed during lactation to increase the quantity of breastmilk. Common galactagogues include anise, blessed thistle, chaste berry, fennel, fenugreek and milk thistle. These herbs have been traditionally used by women to increase their milk supply while nursing and have had varying results.

Drink More Water:-

Nursing mothers need at least 8 glasses of water which can come from food, beverages anddrinking water to compensate for the extra water that is used to make milk. One way to help mothers get the fluids needed is to drink a large glass of water each time they breastfeed their baby. When mothers drink more water, their bodies will restore the balance of minerals and salt in their blood by excreting the excess in the urine and ensures good blood circulation.

Get More Rest:-

Scientifically, breastfeeding releases the Oxytocin hormone, also known as the “love hormone” that causes a mother to feel calm. This will make it harder for her to stay awake while breastfeeding compared to bottle–feeding. In addition, breastmilk contains a hormone called Prolactin, which helps to induce sleep. Breastfeeding mothers secrete this hormone into their bloodstream and tend to fall asleep after a feed. Prolactin also helps to soothe and has a calm effect which allows for a more peaceful postpartum period. Here are some easy tips to get more rest in the first few months after giving birth:

  1. Napping
    A nap is a great way to overcome sleep deficiency from the night before. Sleeping when the baby is asleep is more convenient and the mother can sleep soundly. Having a cot next to your bed. This will prevent going to and fro the baby’s room and give the mother a chance to get sufficient sleep.
  2. Nurse on your side.
    This is a great and safe way for both; the mother and the baby to get some rest while nursing.
  3. Offer both sides when nursing.
    The decision to offer one breast or both breasts, at each feeding is important. As long as the baby is getting enough breastmilk and growing at a healthy, consistent pace, it doesn’t matter if the mother nurses from one breast or both breasts at each feeding. Breastfeeding on both sides will help to stimulate breastmilk production. It can also prevent common breastfeeding problems such as breast engorgement, plugged milk ducts and mastitis. If mothers breastfeed only on one side at each session, they will need to pump or express their milk from the other breast during the same session.
  4. Find a Lactation Consultant/Counsellor
    A lactation consultant is the best option to get an opinion on the causes of lack of milk or other breastfeeding problems. They have good problem-solving skills, ensure the mother is in a comfortable breastfeeding position, have precise tips in the aspect of pumping and, give general advice and encouragement.

Providing breastmilk for a baby is a great way to start their life. Follow the tips above to begin producing more breastmilk