Every nursing momma is on the search for boosting breast milk supply and maintaining that supply. It’s crucial to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally and physically. Your baby and your milk supply depend on you. There can be a whole lot of circumstances coming against a mother trying to maintain her milk supply. Here are a few ways to fight back.
Supply And Demand-The ultimate key to boosting and maintaining milk supply
The main reason that milk supply reduces in women is because of the science of supply and demand. Milk supply progresses when a baby is allowed to nurse as often as he needs. In the early weeks, it is a good idea for mothers to offer both breasts at each feeding to help establish her milk supply.
A lactating mother’s body is always making milk. Her breasts main function is to store the milk. As the breast empties, a woman’s body makes milk to replace it; but if the breasts remain full production of milk slows down. If a mother consistently waits until her breasts “fill up” before she nurses, her body may get the message that it is making too much and may reduce total production.
Frequency and duration of feedings
A breastfed baby’s frequency of feeding will vary for every baby because one mother’s milk supply and storage capacity will be different than another mother’s supply and capacity. Frequency of feeding will also rely on baby’s developmental needs. Growth spurts and illnesses can temporarily change a baby’s feeding pattern.
Studies show that breastfeeding babies that feed on cue will settle into a pattern that suits their own unique situation. In addition, the caloric intake of a breastfed baby increases toward the end of the feeding. This is known as the hindmilk. Putting willful limits on the frequency or duration of feedings may lead to inadequate caloric intake.
When I myself started nursing my newborn, the first 3 months felt like all I ever did was nurse. It takes a lot of patience, however baby will become more adequate at sucking and draining the breast as he develops and gets older. My little guy improved tremendously a little after 3 months old. We went from 40-50 minute nursing sessions on both breasts but now he can complete both breasts within 20 minutes. A little encouragement for ladies who are thinking it will never get better. It certainly will….hang in there!!
Concerns of infant Obesity
If a mother’s concern is that if their baby eats so frequently wouldn’t that mean their child is more likely to become obese? Studies show that breastfed babies who control their own feeding patterns and intake tend to take just the right amount of milk for them. Therefore, the chances of obesity are much less compared to formula fed or early solid fed babies. If you have ever tried to lose weight before and have done your research experts recommend eating smaller more frequent meals instead of say, for example, 3 larger meals every day. Well it is the same concept for a baby. It is the best eating habit that they can learn early on.
Stress can be a milk supply killer. I personally went from pumping 5 1/2 ounces at work to pumping 2 ounces within 2 weeks because I was so stressed out. Then I would stress because my milk supply was going down! I was stressing over stress! ! I bet your nodding your head in agreement. Add that on top of coming home to a new baby which you adore but is also yet another full time job! How does a mother do it all? Between the job, keeping house, paying bills, changing diapers etc. breastfeeding is actually a time to rest. However when your infant wants to eat almost every hour and a half you just have to do everything in increments and eventually the ever growing list of responsibilities will be tackled.
Natural remedies to lower stress
- Pray/meditate– Its like having an apple a day…….you need it to keep the negative thoughts away
- Adult Time– Have some adult conversations. Call a friend, talk to your partner or even find a mothers support group. Whatever you choose you have to have your voice be heard.
- Exercise- Exercise is naturally therapeutic. It releases endorphines, increases energy and gives you time to think. Find 20-30 minutes out of your day to take a walk or jog or whatever suits your fancy. If you take baby with you it is so good for them to get out of the house too!
- Nursing your baby– Prolactin is a feel good hormone that has a calming effect. It is released into your bloodstream whenever you nurse your child. This means that a mom who’s stressed is likely to become more relaxed as she breastfeeds.
A Little More Than Stress?? Brushing up on Postpartum Depression
If you just can’t seem to get your mind right and you are feeling a constant sorrow for a few weeks or more you should consult with your doctor and he/she can find a remedy to match your needs. It is normal to feel a little down for awhile after everything you have been through but postpartum depression can happen. It is a good thing to be educated and prepared to recognize the signs. Postpartum depression is believed to be caused by fluctuating hormones after birth and may be exacerbated by fatigue and lack of social support, though it mostly occurs in women who have a history of problems prior to pregnancy.
It is so very important to remain well hydrated especially when you are nursing. Your body is requiring more water to create your milk. Contrary to widespread belief drinking more water will not increase your milk supply. However, an average adult’s body is made of 50-65% water so all of your other major organs such as your brain, heart, kidneys and blood, just to name a
few, are demanding water to maintain their proper functions. Infants under one year of age actually require even more water intake because their bodies are made up of 75-78% water. It’s very easy to become dehydrated while lactating. If you’re not careful your milk supply could drop because quite naturally your body is going to direct fluids to your brain and heart first to keep you alive. If you are not giving your infant enough milk because of decreased supply then he too can become dehydrated.
Signs you’re dehydrated could be…
- Concentrated urine (darker yellow, stronger smelling than usual). A sign from your kidneys
- Constipation (hard, dry stools)
- Impaired concentration
- Decreased milk supply
How much fluids should a nursing mother intake??
That depends on a lot of factors such as your weight, height, age and activity. I like the general rule to drink at least half your body weight in ounces. That may sound like a lot to some, which is why I state that is just the recommendation that I prefer. Everywhere you go though you will here a different answer and opinion. I believe another great idea is to keep water at all times in the areas you nurse and drink 8 oz. of fluids while you are breastfeeding. So basically, drink when baby drinks….at LEAST.
I understand some people detest water but a person can intake other healthy options of fluid such as milk, soup, herbal teas and even vegetables which are mostly made up of water. I do not personally recommend store bought juices because most are packed with sugars. Breastfeeding moms should limit their caffeine intake to two or three cups a day as caffeine in your breast milk might agitate your baby or interfere with his sleep.
Diet and Caloric Intake
Unless there is a physical reason for low milk production, a woman who breastfeeds on cue from her infant will be able to produce enough milk for him/her, regardless of what she eats.
Nursing momma’s should consume a healthy and balanced diet to maintain adequate nutrition while lactating . The same beneficial foods are permissible to breastfeeding women as they are to the rest of the public. Meaning, there is really nothing that is off limits. It is advisable to eat a balanced diet of proteins, grains, vegetables, fruit and healthy fats.
How many extra calories do I need when I’m breastfeeding?
A woman’s caloric needs depend on her body fat percentage, her daily activity level and even her height. While women are often advised to consume about 500 extra calories daily while they are breastfeeding, this could be too much for some women, while for others it could be an inadequate amount.
If your goal is to lose weight while breastfeeding
If you are wanting to reduce calorie intake to lose the rest of that pregnancy weight gain then it is advised to wait a minimum of two months time after your baby is born. This much time is needed in order to let your body recover from giving birth and time enough to develop a good milk supply with baby. If you are ready then the rule of thumb is to lose the weight slowly no matter how quickly you’re wanting it gone. This rule is for anyone trying to lose weight not just breastfeeding moms. The healthiest weight loss is to aim for one to two pounds lost every week. A pound of fat equals about 3,500 calories so in order to lose 2 pounds per week you would need a deficit of about 7,000 calories per week. You should not aim for any lower because remember you still require more calories for your milk production. All nursing mommas would be wise to consult their health care physician to obtain what calorie needs would be right for their body type in order to maintain and to lose weight.
Take a Time Out
Now is not the time to let your pride get in the way of asking/receiving help. Even if no one is offering help and in your mind it should be quite obvious that you need it, don’t hesitate to ask!!! Do anything you can to get a spare moment to yourself. Take a few extra minutes in that bubble bath or read a few more pages of that book you never have time for anymore. Most of all, do not be ashamed or feel selfish that you are indulging in some pleasures of your own. You cannot take care of anyone else unless you are taken care of first. It is only natural. Happy Momma means happy baby and vice versa.
If you have any questions about how to better balance your breastfeeding schedule or would like to offer any insight you have gotten over the years (from your personal experiences), please leave a comment below. I would love to hear all about it!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. All of the articles written on this website were written by me for educational purposes, but are not meant to diagnose or treat any medical disorders. If you are concerned about your health, or that of your child, consult with your health care provider regarding your individual situation.