Saturday, August 27, 2011

Increase Milk Supply Naturally-Steps for Encouraging More Breast Milk Production
Boost Your Breast Milk Production with These Tips

By Lisa Musser

Many nursing mothers experience decreased milk production from time to time. It is possible to get your supply back up even if it seems like your breasts are empty. If you are producing any milk at all, you have a chance to regain a nearly full supply by following a few simple steps. Many women assume that they are drying up because the breasts no longer fill up or feel full like they once did.

Why the Breast May Feel Empty

This is not an indication that your supply is low, it just means that your body has adjusted to your baby's needs and produces just the right amount. Contrary to popular belief, the breast is never truly empty. You have milk in the milk glands waiting for the body to signal its release, this is known as the let-down reflex. This is the tightening or tingling feeling in the breast when your baby starts to nurse. If your baby is not nursing enough then more milk stays in the breast and the signal to produce more is less frequent. Here are some steps to boost a lagging milk supply:

1. Nurse Your Baby as Often as Possible

This is of course the most important thing you can do to increase your milk supply. Every book you read and every article posted on the web tell will tell you to nurse more often. A newborn baby needs to nurse approximately every two hours because his little body only processes small amounts of food at a time and breast milk digests faster than formula. If you are attempting to increase milk supply naturally for an older baby you will need to follow the same steps as you did when the baby was first born. Nurse him or her as often as possible even if it is only for a few minutes you just need to stimulate the milk glands. Breastfeeding works by a process of supply and demand so to produce more milk you must nurse more often.

2. Increase Fluid Intake

Many mothers find it difficult to drink a gallon of water a day but you need fluids to make milk. An easy way to make sure you get enough liquids is to fill up a glass of water and keep it beside you all day. Fill the glass with water or juice, add some ice or a straw and just sip on it until it is empty. Once the glass is empty, fill it up again and start over. You do not need to count the glasses or wonder how any ounces you drank, just be sure to keep the glass full at all times. The important thing is to stay well hydrated to produce milk for your baby. If you are curious as to whether or not you are getting enough fluids the answer is to look at your urine output. If the urine is a clear yellow then you are getting enough liquids. However, if the urine is a darker yellow to orange color then you need to drink more liquids.

3. Make Good Use of Your Breast Pump
A breast pump is your best friend. To increase milk supply naturally you must empty the breast often. This means nursing sessions and pumping to stimulate milk production. If your baby nurses well you can pump for five minutes or so after each feeding. As babies get older they nurse less often or for shorter durations so there is still milk left in the breast that needs removing in order for your body to signal the milk glands to produce more. Here is a very important tip: the more milk that is removed from the breast the more it will make. Your breast begins producing more milk when it is empty to be there for the next feeding. If you nurse less frequently or do not remove all the milk from the breast your body will think it needs to produce less because the baby is eating less. If your baby does not take a full feeding, pump the remaining milk and store it for later use.

4. Stimulate the Let-Down Reflex
Your baby's sucking stimulates nerve endings in the nipple and areola, signaling the pituitary gland to release the hormones prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin converts the proteins and sugars in your blood to make breast milk and oxytocin causes the tiny cell structures around the glands to contract squeezing milk down into the areola. This process is essential to keeping a good milk supply. You need to stimulate this reflex as often as possible by nursing or pumping milk.

To Increase milk supply naturally:
  • Nurse as often as possible
  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • Pump after feedings to empty the breast
  • Stimulate the let-down reflex to signal the body to produce more milk