When I first started breastfeeding, I felt like I had nailed it. My baby was happy and growing! But as we approached the 4-month mark, my milk supply started to wane. I would be completely out of milk and my baby would wail and wail. I wasn’t ready to give up breastfeeding but I didn’t know where to turn. What could I be doing wrong? Was my baby growing too fast for my milk supply to catch up? It turns out the stress and business of being a new mom had gotten to me more than I even had time to notice. I was neglecting some very important parts of replenishing my milk supply. Perceived Insufficient Milk (PMI) is an actual thing and I had it. PMI means I thought my body had simply run out of milk when actually that wasn’t entirely the case. If you’re having trouble keeping up with your nursing tot, here are six quick tips for giving your supply a much-needed boost.
Nurse, nurse, nurse. Feeding your baby is a supply and demand process. The more times you nurse, the more milk your body will produce. Try to feed as often as possible. You’ll want to shoot for every couple of hours during the day and every three hours per night. Also, try to offer both breasts to your baby at every feeding. If he finishes one side, give the other one as dessert.
Offer the breast. If your baby is feeling fussy, try to skip reaching straight for the pacifier. Instead, try to offer your breast as a way to calm and soothe and ultimately stimulate your milk supply.
Sleep when your baby sleeps. You’ve heard it over and over to the point where the phrase may start sounding cliché. But it really is true. Before you were pregnant, your body was adjusted to its sleep cycle. Now, you’re missing chunks of sleep that you weren’t prepregnancy and you’re experiencing several disruptions to your sleep pattern over the course of a night. Leave the dishes for later and sleep while you can. Catching your Zs helps replenish your cells, rebuild your tissues and restore your milk supply.
Drink more water. H2O is one of the most important elements of your milk supply. Try to keep a bottle with you near whatever room you’re in so that you can sip and stay hydrated throughout the day. If you’re not drinking enough water, it can diminish your supply because you’re dehydrated. Also stay away from alcohol, like beer and wine. Once thought to increase your supply, new studies show the opposite is actually true.
Eat the good stuff. You’re nourishing your little babe straight from your bosom, so you’ll want to make sure you’re getting a healthy, balanced diet. Nursing moms need 300 to 500 extra calories per day to keep their milk supply up. If you’re undereating, this could be a reason why your milk supply is wavering. You’ll also want to choose whole grains, protein, fruits and veggies which each pack a huge nutritional punch. If you’re having a really hard time and want to try an herbal supplement, fenugreek and blessed thistle are great options. Just check with your doctor before using and don’t use while you’re pregnant.
Meet with a lactation consultant. Many times you know help is available but you have a hard time reaching out. I reached out and learned to try new positions that actually made our feeding process run a lot smoother. The encouragement that came from my lactation consultant was something I couldn’t have even imagined. Sometimes when your milk supply is failing, you need a little support to pull you back up!
These are the few simple steps that helped me restore my milk supply for the following few months. My biggest problem was that I wasn’t getting enough rest, enough calories or enough water. Try switching these basics up in your daily routine and watch as your body learns to do what it was meant to do.