Babies have a sucking reflex that enables them to suck and swallow milk. Experts recommend that newborns be breastfed within one hour of birth and exclusively breastfed for the first six months, and then breastfed until age two with age-appropriate, nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods. Some advise that after exclusive breastfeeding, the child is breastfed "for a year and for as long as is mutually desired by the mother and baby.” Breastfeeding is a very personal decision; women have their own beliefs and feelings about whether or not they want to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding mothers want to ensure that their baby is getting enough milk. First thing you need to know is what contributes to a low milk supply.
Some things that can decrease milk flow are:
· Having a C-section - having a surgery means you will be in pain at some point. Some women may take a while before feeding or holding their baby. This will cause the milk flow to come a bit later. But rest assured that you will be able to produce the same amount of milk as you would have with a vaginal delivery.
· Inadequate sucking reflex due to flat nipples - when a woman nipple is flat (also known as inverted nipples) this hinders the baby from latching on well. If you realize that your nipples are flat you can throughout your pregnancy pull them upwards that they can stand when breastfeeding is initiated.
· Being separated from your baby for long periods of time- when going back to work or being busy can cause the flow to be less. The best thing you can do is use a breast pump to pump regularly every 3 hours.
· Limited breastfeeding time - in the new born stage women tend to stop at 20 minutes. It is recommended that you let the baby drink until he's full, or at least 15 minutes each breast until flow has been established.
· Being sick or being stressed out -when having the flu cold or any other disorder cause the body to produce less milk. So does being stressed.
· Supplemental feeding or pacifier -when you use formula milk for baby or give a pacifier you will have your baby eating less from you and it will cause your milk flow to be less.
· Dieting - this can reduce you milk flow by not getting enough calories per day.
There are several natural methods you can use to help increase your milk flow:
· Eat well -You should consume a minimum of 1,800 calories a day and drink at least 6 glasses of fluids while you are lactating. What you eat has a big impact on the quality and quantity of the milk produced. Find excellent sources of calcium. These will help your baby's little bones grow healthy and strong. Calcium-rich foods include dairy products (opt for organic dairy products), leafy green vegetables, and certain fish (sardines and salmon). Make fruits and vegetables a big part of your diet, as they are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
· Supplement feedings with pumping. Pumping is beneficial for two reasons. First, pumping allows you to store breast milk when your baby doesn't need it. Secondly, pumping both breasts will help to stimulate more production. Invest in a high-quality pump this allows you to pump adequately. Whether you are at work or at home, consider pumping for 15 minutes every couple of hours. Either that, or pump for 5 to 10 minutes after nursing. Pumping at least 8 times during a 24-hour period will help to quickly increase breast milk production.
· Limit the use of pacifiers and bottles while you are trying to make more breast milk. This makes sure all your baby's sucking needs are met at the breast. As the baby gets older, it will be easier for him to go back and forth from breast to pacifier or bottle without your baby losing important breast stimulation.
· Offer both breasts at each feeding - “switch nursing”. Watch your baby as he nurses. He will nurse vigorously for a few minutes, then start slowing down and swallowing less often. He may continue this lazy sucking for a long time, then be too tired to take the other breast. Switch him to the other breast as soon as his sucking slows down, even if it has only been a few minutes. Repeat this until you have offered each breast twice, then let him nurse as long as he wants to. Switch nursing will ensure that he receives more of the higher calorie hind milk (high fat content milk that is produce 2 to 3 days after lactation begins), while also ensuring that both breasts receive adequate stimulation
· Try massaging the breast gently as you nurse. This can help the rich, higher calorie hindmilk let down more efficiently. Using breast compression is a simple, easy, and effective way to help your baby get more milk.
· Make sure that you are using proper breastfeeding techniques. Check your positioning to make sure that he is latching on properly. If the areola is not far enough back in his mouth, he may not be able to compress the milk sinuses effectively in order to release the milk (mymilkies.com).
· Breastfeed your baby regularly - your body adapts milk production to the amount being demanded. The more you feed your baby, the more milk your body will produce. You may find that milk production is best when you develop a feeding routine for your baby and feed at regular intervals. This gives your body the time to produce the needed amount again.
· Get enough rest - if you are too tired, your body will not have the energy to produce milk properly. So try to catch up on your sleep and rest during the day if you are up a lot at night.