by Pregnancy.org Staff
In a breastfeeding relationship mom's body responds to baby's "make-me-milk!" signals. The synchronized dance between nursing partners can break down sometimes, causing a supply issue. For instance, if you don't empty your breasts often enough, this could be the main cause of a poor breast milk supply. The situation can be compounded by:
Identifying and targeting your problem areas can help you bring your supply back up to baby's demand.
A newborn can't look you in the eye and say, "Thank you for the great meal mom. I'm full and content! Now I can use the nutrients you gave me to grow big and strong." However, these are the signs that show your tiny tot's getting enough milk:
Almost every mom gets concerned that her supply might not be enough, but the opposite is true. The softness of your breasts, your baby's behavior, the frequency of nursing, let-down sensations or the amount you pump don't tell if you're making enough milk for your baby. These "indicators" might convince you that your milk supply is low when it really isn't. If your baby is gaining weight on breast milk alone, then you don't have a problem with your milk supply.
Your milk supply works on a simple principle: The more milk your baby drinks, the more milk you will make. These three tips can help you and your baby become an effective team.
1. Your pain and baby's lack of swallows indicate a problem and the first suspect is latch or position. A lactation consultant can help you and your wee one get positioned and latched properly so all your milk gets from breast to babe efficiently and pain-free.
2. Many women find success with a "nurse-in." Take your baby to bed with you; nurse and cuddle all day long! Have your partner bring you food, drinks, snacks and allow you to relax so you can bond with your baby. The extra nursing not to mention the skin-to-skin contact tells your body to make more milk.
3. Use a high quality pump after each feeding (or as often as possible). This helps empty your breasts completely, sending the signal out for more milk production.
Our advice: Stay hydrated! Keep a beverage near the area you breastfeed and drink while your baby does! Even a warm cup of tea will help you relax, which makes for more pleasant and effective nursing sessions.
Despite your best efforts, sometimes your supply still needs a boost. For thousands of years mothers have used herbs like Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, Goats Rue and Marshmallow Root to help bring a milk supply to fruition. While little-to-no medical research proves the herbs' success, they're world renowned by many cultures as safe and very effective choices. These herbs can be found in capsule, tea and tincture (liquid) form and are widely available at most "health food" stores.
Your doctor can prescribe certain medications to help with lactation. Metaclopamide, domperidone, and the antipsychotics, sulpiride and chlorpromazine work by blocking dopamine receptors. That results in higher prolactin levels and can increase milk supply. A galactagogue is most effective when combined with more frequent nursing sessions.
Some foods are touted to have a positive effect on supply such as oatmeal, papaya and even hops in beer. [Editor's note: Research indicates babies nurse less after a mom drinks alcohol.]