Breastfeeding, though a natural process is difficult especially during the postpartum period*. We shall look at the important Breastfeeding Matters new mothers should be aware of.
The following factors can help improve and regularize your breast milk supply:
- Foods called Galactagogues
- Adequate Sleep
- Stress & Anxiety
- Balanced Diet
- Exclusive Breastfeeding
- Skin-to-Skin Interactions
1. Foods called Galactagogues: The foods that can increase breast milk supply for lactating mothers are called as Galactagogues. There is not much medical evidence regarding the effectiveness of galactagogues. But, mothers find some foods that are very useful in boosting milk supply along with regular breastfeeding.
Foods like oats, fennel seeds, garlic, dried fish help increase the supply of breastmilk.
Each pregnancy, each mother and each baby is different. Hence, you should experiment prudently if a galactagogue really works for you and your baby. There are also some foods mothers swear that reduces their breast milk supply. For example, Mint.
2. Adequate Sleep: A good night’s sleep is a dream for many new mothers. But, breast milk supply can be greatly affected with poor sleep and lack of rest. You should try to squeeze in as much as sleep as possible whenever you can.
Adequate sleep can help you regularize your breast milk supply.
It can also reduce stress levels and greatly reduce the risk of postpartum blues. We understand that getting your chores done is important. It is also equally important if not more for you get some adequate shut eye to take care of your baby, yourself and for your own sanity.
3. Stress & Anxiety: Stress can hinder the supply of breast milk, though it may not stop the milk production. New mothers may enter into a loop of lack of sleep, stress and reduced breast milk supply. Hence, you should have a check on your sleep and stress levels. On the other hand, regularly feeding your baby can soothe you and help reduce stress levels and mood swings.
Anxiety, fear stress and hormonal imbalances can affect your breast milk supply.
It is also very important to remember that every mother does her best and it is completely normal to be overwhelmed by your responsibilities. Try to meditate or do a simple exercise or anything that can lift your mood and avoid stress. Talk to a friend or family member who has recently had a baby. This could help you in sharing tips and ideas and you could also get much needed empathy and reassurance.
4. Balanced Diet: A balanced and healthy diet is essential for the health of the breastfeeding mother and the baby. The quality of the breast milk will be greatly improved when you consume the right kind of diet from the start of your pregnancy and throughout your breastfeeding journey.
A balanced diet can not only improve your breast milk supply but also improve your quality of milk.
Even when the quantity of the milk supply is not a problem, when your diet lacks vital nutrients, the quality of breastmilk may get affected and/or you may get malnutrition. For example, if your diet lacks Calcium, the body makes amends to make Calcium available from your bones from the breastmilk. The recuperation of the body is better when the diet followed is a healthy one with all vital nutrients.
5. Hydration: Almost 88% of breast milk is water, hence hydration is key. Make sure you drink adequate amount of water. You could sip water, fresh fruit juice, lemonade, tender coconut water or butter milk as you nurse your baby or just after a feeding session.
Drinking adequate water is key to maintain the breastmilk supply for nursing mothers.
This can help to keep your body stay hydrated as the amount of water input has a direct effect on the breast milk supply.
6. Exclusive Breastfeeding:
Exclusive breastfeeding can improve breast milk supply.
Breastfeeding works in the principle of demand and supply. The more you breastfeed, the more milk the breasts create. So, regular breastfeeding with no formula substitution can help increase your supply. Alternatively, you could also take the help of breast pump to increase your supply. You can increase the breast milk supply by pumping every 2-3 hours even when your baby is not hungry. Doing this routine for at least a day or two can help increase your supply greatly as your body adapts to produce more milk based on the demand.
7. Skin-to-Skin Interactions: The skin-to-skin interactions have been found to increase breast milk supply for the mother. The skin-to skin interaction can be done as long as possible and as frequently as possible especially during the postpartum period.* So mommies, go ahead to hold and cuddle your baby as much as possible. Don’t worry you cannot spoil or pamper your baby by doing so. On the other hand, the bond between you and your baby is strengthened by frequent skin-to-skin interactions. It could also help calm the baby and make the baby feel safe and secure.
The skin-to-skin interactions between mother and baby can not only regularize breastmilk supply but also strengthen the bond.
All the above mentioned factors are in a complex loop of inter-dependencies and when regularized can help in greatly improving the breastfeeding journey.
What were the major challenges you faced while breastfeeding your baby? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
*postpartum period is the first 3 months after childbirth