Seven tips to improve supply

9:29 PM

Hopefully, this post will be helpful to mothers. I have seen a bunch of articles that speak on improving milk supply. I will write about what has helped me personally. My baby was a few days early, and slightly underweight. My pediatrician is the best, and all efforts were put to feed him very well (possibly more than he needed initially). Remember, you should not pump if you are pregnant. I have heard it supposedly triggers labor but I don't know the scientific truth behind this claim.

Get baby to latch, soon after giving birth.
The first thing you should ask for is getting the baby close to you within a few hours.

As soon as I had my baby, the doctors took him away for a few minutes. They were removing meconium, so I knew it was worth the wait. Then he was handed off to me. They placed him on my chest and he tried to latch, successfully. Note that he was a tiny baby who didn't have the energy to suck (at the time), but he always had a strong latch.

Be positive, stay stress free.
Being a new mom can be stressful. It is even more stressful to obsess about whether baby is getting enough to eat or not. Being stressed will not help, but it can surely decrease your supply temporarily. If you are going through extreme stress, make sure you eat well, pump well and get lots of rest. It is not a big deal to supplement if that helps improve the bonding experience with your little one.

Nurse as often as baby wants.
Always try to bring baby to breast before trying other methods like pumping, to improve supply. While it may not seem like a lot, no pump can remove the milk as nicely as your baby (assuming you have a normal delivery where the baby knows how to suck). 'Supply' is in fact, 'demand and supply' so the more you nurse, the more milk you will make. If you pump though, watch for engorgement issues and decrease the frequency and length of pumping as needed.

Get a pump and pump frequently.
If you are not provided with a hospital grade pump, ask for one. It also doesn't hurt to ask for your insurance to provide you with a pump, during the last stage of pregnancy. I don't remember the exact process, but you will be asked a few questions, and should receive a pump for free. The pump can take a few days to arrive. I chose the PISA (Pump in Style Advanced) from Medela as the hospital grade pump was also a Medela, and my lactation consultant also recommended the same. Plus, one gets the set of parts for free (for sanitary reasons) and it doesn't hurt to have an extra pair for regular use. Eventually, I got a manual backup pump for about 25$ as well.
Make sure you pump regularly. If you are pumping for a newborn, you should pump an ounce or two every 3 hours. Try not to overdo it if possible. Not a bad thing if your supply is low, but I had oversupply issues. Read this for more pumping tips.

Sleep well (even though it's tough for moms).

It is hard for new moms to sleep. However, there is a rule for newborns - sleep when the baby sleeps. Sleep. Other things can wait. Get help from family and friends, for getting good food, household chores. According to my pediatrician, do the 'elbow dance' when needed. Use your elbow to nudge the person sitting beside you for ensuring they move when needed.  :)

Eat nutritious and calorie rich food.
You can easily find very good sources for what to eat, I will list a few that have helped me a lot.
  • Plenty of water - hands down this helps supply the best.
  • Oats. You can eat plain oats cooked in water or milk. I find leaving oats overnight in water, and then drinking this 'water' works the best. It doesn't taste very good, but add it in any drink, with sugar and it works fine. 
  • Garlic, fried in ghee (clarified butter) - helps improve the fat content in the milk
  • Fenugreek - soak a few seeds overnight and eat on an empty stomach in the morning, or even better, team it with oats (do not  eat together but one after the other, otherwise it will taste horrible).
  • Asparagus
  • Milk (assuming no lactose intolerance)
Go to a lactation consultant if you have doubts.
You may be thinking that your supply is low, but in fact your baby may be feeding just fine. Pumping less does not always point to a low supply. The baby getting hungry random nights also doesn't necessarily signify your supply is low. Babies go through growth spurts every few months and they grow suddenly overnight, literally. Your body may not expect the growth but in a few days, it adjusts. It may not be a good idea to try introducing your little one to more than 2 solids a day till one year just to substitute. 

Please visit a lactation consultant who may weigh your baby before and after a session. 
Try to take your baby hungry with you if they offer this, so you can get a better estimate. Still, they may not eat the same amount every meal so if the amount is not what you want, don't be disappointed. Babies mostly crave more at night as they are naturally nocturnal. As long as your baby has wet diapers daily, they should be okay. 

And a bonus final tip. Don't hesitate to supplement with formula.
 It's not such a big deal, and especially in the first few days, your baby already loses a bit of weight, and the milk takes a few days to come in well. Excluding the colostrum, if you need extra calories for the baby, you might have to supplement with formula. Don't feel bad about it. You can still bond with your baby, and you should be happy that you are doing the best for your baby. Also, you can always try to improve supply by pumping, continuing to try getting the baby to breast. Soon enough, your supply will be good and you can exclusively nurse your little one for the the first six months. Then, you have to pave way for some solids. Still, your baby will rely on milk (or formula) as the primary source of nutrition.

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Welcome to Sleepy Mom Bliss, written by Amrita. I wanted a platform to share all my experiences, struggles and memories of being a mom.

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