Many breastfeeding mothers worry about their milk supply at one point or another. Whether they have actual low milk supply or not, mothers should be empowered with the knowledge on what they can do to establish or increase their supply.
I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and most with my condition struggle with producing sufficient milk and only breastfeed for a short period of time. I was fortunate to have learned almost all of these tips from midwives and lactation consultants during my long stay in hospital when my daughter was born and had successfully breastfed my daughter for 2 years and 8 months.
- Rest well - Stress and fatigue can greatly affect milk supply. Try to get as much rest as possible.
- Eat well - Have a healthy, balanced diet. Consume sufficient calories and do not try to lose weight.
- Drink well - Stay well hydrated. Drink at least 3 to 4 litres of water a day. Keep a bottle close to you at all times. Drink a nice big glass of water before you express or breastfeed.
- Pump, pump, pump - Use a good quality hospital grade breast pump (like the Unimom Forte#) and express (both sides simultaneously) for 20 minutes after every feed. The amount of milk expressed should start increasing in a couple of days. This method is especially useful for establishing a good milk supply in the early days.
- Power pump - Details can be found here. This method is especially useful for mothers who have been breastfeeding for a while and want to increase or maintain their milk supply.
- Massage your breasts while you pump - Get your husbands or partners to help massage while you pump. This would help drain the milk from your breasts. The more you express, the more your breast would produce.
- Relax while pumping - Your milk letdown will be easier and you can even express more than when you are feeling stressed or tensed. Thinking happy thoughts or looking at a video or picture of your baby can help.
- Check and change the breast shield parts regularly - Even the smallest tear in the large membrane and white valves can lead to reduced suction and drop in milk supply.
- Make it easy - Use a pumping bra. Handsfree pumping is great and makes it a lot easier for those who pump regularly. Try PumpEase for great quality and comfortable pumping bras.
- Breastfeed whenever possible - Bring your baby to your breast as often as you can. They are the best milk extractors and no breast pump in the world can ever match their ability.
This post is dedicated to Emma Grose and Erica Liu.