Breastfeeding is the most natural thing for a woman to do right after delivery. It’s not something you need to prepare for, right? Wrong. This blog post will teach you how to increase your breast milk stores from pregnancy to the birth of the newborn.
As a matter of fact, there are a lot of articles out there about how to increase your milk supply for your baby. And a lot of these articles focus on increasing your milk supply after delivery.
But, can I tell you a secret? What you do during pregnancy and consequently (after delivery) makes all the difference. It boils down to: 1. Boosting your breast milk production during pregnancy 2. Establishing breastfeeding 3. Maintaining your milk supply.
This is my story, I never baked or bought lactation cookies, drank any “special” tea or took supplements specifically for helping boost breast milk production but on the average, I pumped 250-300mls (5-9oz)at a sitting. However, this is not to say I’m against lactation cookies, supplements or anything in that regard.
If you’re pregnant, this article is for you. Even if you’re not, it’s an opportunity to learn and prep yourself ahead of time for your first or next pregnancy.
That said, let’s talk about how to easily become a milk factory.
Building your milk production
1. Your diet
Your pregnancy diet is very critical. What you give your body is what it will give back to you. Your pregnancy diet should consist of fruits (banana, avocado, pawpaw ); vegetables (leafy veggies, carrots,); fiber-rich foods (oats, wheat, brown rice); whole foods (beans); sesame seeds, fenugreek seeds, peanuts, yoghurt, salmon, sweet potatoes, eggs. These food items enhance breast milk production.
2. Drink Water
Breast milk consists of 88.1% water. The composition of breast milk is shown in the diagram below.
On the average, a person needs eight glasses of water that’s approximately 1.5 liters. During pregnancy, however, you should aim to consume more. A pregnant woman should take about 2.3 liters of water a day (source).
Drinking water during pregnancy can be difficult. Because there are times you may feel nauseous making water in take difficult. How do you deal with that and still take in water?
Infuse your water with lemon or fruits.
Add ice or drink your water cold.
Track you water intake, there are several mobile apps available to help you do this. A water bottle is also helpful; I had a 750mls (15 oz) water container at my desk, . It helped me consume more water.
Try flavored water, It can be a little expensive depending on the brand but it sure does make water taste good!
Eat fruits and vegetables with a high water content such as watermelon. It also counts.
Don’t gulp all your water. Try sipping with a straw or drinking in bits.
Monitor the color of your urine to stay motivated. If it’s pale, you’re doing a good job, if it’s not, you need to up your game.
Establishing your milk supply
3. Skin to skin contact
Babies are able to intuitively latch when held skin-to-skin after birth. Not only does skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth promote bonding, it also encourages the flow of breast milk.
4. Avoid formula or limit the intake
I had no milk supply immediately after delivery until two days later. I’m sure many mothers will attest to the fact that they’ve had a similar situation. This was worrisome. The midwives wanted to feed my baby with formula since my milk wasn’t flowing yet. However, my husband (thank God for him) insisted otherwise. As a medical doctor, he requested that our baby be given DEXTROSE instead of formula. This was to help maintain her sugar level and prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar which can be dangerous).
As a new mother, I was worried, every other baby was having formula. Was my baby not starving? My husband constantly reassured me. He encouraged me to put my baby to breast often and consistently even though no milk was flowing yet. After what seemed like the longest 48hours, the breast milk started flowing.
It is okay to give formula before your breast milk comes in. But, formula should not replace breastfeeding entirely if you desire to breastfeed.
5. Breastfeed often
It’s easy to replace breastfeeding with formula after the introduction of the latter. One reason for this is that, formula feeding to an extent may seem convenient; as it is perceived that babies fed on formula sleep for long periods and feed less often.
However, you ruin your milk production when you do not breastfeed often and rely on formula. Your body after a SHORT while will produce the amount of milk it thinks your baby needs. This means the more you breastfeed, the more your body is instructed to produce more milk and vice versa.
Once your milk comes in, my advice would be to stop giving formula and breastfeed instead. Your milk may seem insufficient at the beginning particularly if your baby is breastfeeding so often but this a myth.
Pumping works similarly to breastfeeding often. It also signals your body to produce more milk once your breasts have been emptied. Pumping also prevents breast engorgement.
7. Bottle preference over the nipple
Babies may develop a bottle preference over the nipple after they get used to the bottle. For this reason, it’s advisable not to introduce the bottle too early. Ideally when they are about four-six weeks is fine.
Maintaining your breast milk supply
Doing the following things can ruin your milk supply:
8. Eating the wrong food
This includes processed food, junk food, coffee, chocolates, greasy foods. Your pre-pregnancy diet is as important as your postpartum diet.
This cannot only cause your milk supply to decline, it can also cause you to gain weight. So get help from family, friends or a nanny.
By all means, drink up mama to avoid dehydration.
11. Lack of sleep
It may be hard to sleep in the early days but get some rest, your body needs it.
In summary, breastfeeding can be exhausting but it’s worthwhile because of it’s numerous benefits. An increase to your breast milk stores starts during pregnancy and even after!
If you found this post helpful, don’t forget to share. It could be exactly what that pregnant mama needs!