Did you know that your milk supply is actually regulated by two different hormones: Prolactin and Oxytocin? That’s right, there are two separate things going on here at the same time. The first, oxytocin, is the hormone that triggers contractions when you’re having a baby. It’s also the one that brings on the big cuddly post-partum love feelings. The second hormone, prolactin, is the one responsible for making milk.
This dual functionality of these hormones makes it tricky to get more milk when you’re just getting started with breastfeeding. But thankfully, we have science on our side! There are plenty of great ways to increase your supply of both oxytocin and prolactin so that you can get more milk from your new little nursling.
What Is A Normal Milk Supply?
One way to determine whether you have a low, normal, or high supply of milk is by measuring your baby’s wet and dirty diapers. A normal yield is around 1 to 2 ounces per feed, so if your baby is urinating that often, you’re good to go. If they’re urinating a bit more often, that’s normal too. But if they’re urinating less frequently than that, it’s a sign that your supply isn’t up to par and you might want to take some steps to increase it. If your baby’s diapers are consistently less than 1 ounce (28 grams), or they’re having really large poos, then you might want to take steps to increase your supply of milk.
If you have a low supply, your baby may have trouble gaining weight or may be fussy at the breast. You don’t want your baby to have to go without enough milk, so it’s important to get your supply up if you’re having trouble. But if your baby’s diapers seem to be just a little below their average, there’s nothing to panic about. There are plenty of ways to increase your supply of milk if you need to.
Stay Relaxed and Keep Nursing
Oxytocin is triggered most strongly by relaxation and affection, so being in a calm, happy state will make it easier to trigger your breastfeeding hormones. There are plenty of ways to relax, but being sure to spend some one-on-one cuddle time with your baby will go a long way. Don’t be afraid to spend all day in bed with your baby if that’s what it takes. Your baby will be able to feed more easily if you’re relaxed and calm. They’ll also be able to pick up on your calm state and feed better, easier. Feeding often and nursing for as long as your baby wants will also keep your oxytocin levels up. The more often you nurse, the more often you’ll trigger the big cuddly love feelings. So keep nursing your baby often, and stay relaxed and calm. You’ll increase your supply of milk sooner rather than later.
Try an Infant Massager
Massaging your breasts can help increase your supply of milk by triggering the release of oxytocin. Your baby’s fingers are great for stimulating your breasts and triggering the production of milk, but you can also use an infant massager. Using an infant massager is a good way to stimulate your breasts if you’re not able to hold your baby while they nurse. You can use your fingers and/or an infant massage tool. Rubbing your breasts in small, gentle circles can help trigger the release of oxytocin. You can massage your breasts before you nurse, or you can do it after you breastfeed as a way to encourage your body to produce more milk.
Check Your Diet
Eating certain foods may help improve your supply of milk. Many breastfeeding books and websites recommend eating foods that are rich in calcium, protein, and B vitamins in order to increase a low milk supply. Below are some examples of the best foods to eat while you’re breastfeeding.
- Cereals and grains – Oats and wheat are high in iron and B vitamins, which are good for your milk supply.
- Dairy products – Eat plenty of dairy products, like yogurt, cheese, and milk; they’re high in calcium and protein.
- Fruits and vegetables – Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, especially ones that are high in iron, like spinach, broccoli, and Swiss chard.
Take A Supplement
If you’re having trouble getting your milk supply up and running, there are supplements out there that can help. There are a few different supplements that can help increase the amount of milk you produce. If you’re finding that your milk supply isn’t increasing, don’t be afraid to get some help. It’s better to take a supplement than to have your baby not get enough to eat.
- Fenugreek – This is a popular herb that can help increase your milk supply, which you can purchase as a powder or in pill form. It smells terrible, but there are supplements available that are easier to ingest.
- B Vitamins – Many women find that taking B vitamins can help increase their milk supply. You can also try a B vitamin supplement like Mother’s Milk, or a probiotic supplement like Bio K.
- Probiotics – If you eat well but are still having trouble increasing your milk supply, try taking a probiotic supplement.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bond with your baby, and it has many health benefits for both of you. Getting your milk supply up and running can be challenging, but with a little patience and persistence, you’ll be breastfeeding like a pro in no time. There are plenty of ways to increase milk supply, including taking supplements, eating well, massaging your breasts, and keeping yourself relaxed and happy. With a little effort and dedication, you’ll be breastfeeding like a pro before you know it.