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Breastfeeding is important for both the mother and the baby. Being the only source of nutrition for the babies, it provides them with all the essential food components and daily nutritional calories making it crucial for their initial growth and development.

Colostrum, which is the first milk of the mother and is yellow and thicker than the subsequent breastfeed, is quite essential for providing the baby with the desired immunoglobulins, to warrant a healthy immune system. This will help in protecting your baby from diseases and infections.

For the mother, it is important to breastfeed in order to avoid complications like breast abscess, breast engorgement, mastitis or a blocked duct. These conditions are marked by painful swelling in the breast due to infrequent feeding or not feeding at all. Not just this, breastfeeding is also important for the mother to lose the excess weight gained during pregnancy. It further helps to avoid the risk of obesity-related disorders like hypertension and diabetes later in life.

As important it is to breastfeed, some women feel that their bodies are unable to synthesise sufficient breastmilk, which is why they wean off early and switch to feed milk.

Compared with artificial feed, breast milk has been time and again demonstrated to have nutritional and immunological benefits, protecting the baby from allergies, respiratory infections and diarrhoea during early stages of its development.

Several researchers have found that human bodies are capable of synthesising more than enough breast milk to be feeding a single infant. This means that you must not be worried about insufficient breast milk volume since that is quite not happening.

Further, researchers say, that feeding practices and diet are important factors which influence breast milk production. So, taking care of these factors and not giving up on feeding your baby will go a long way in managing your health and that of the baby.

  1. How to increase breastmilk naturally at home
  2. Start off early to increase breastmilk production
  3. Baby positioning to increase breastmilk production
  4. Feed more often to increase breastmilk production
  5. Breast massage to increase breastmilk production
  6. Foods to increase breastmilk
  7. Proteins increase breastmilk
  8. Water improves breastmilk production
  9. Iron increases breastmilk
  10. Reduce caffeine intake to increase breastmilk production
  11. Herbal remedies to increase breastmilk production
  12. Fenugreek tea to increase breast milk
  13. Fennel seeds tea to increase breast milk
  14. Anise seeds tea to increase breast milk
  15. Shatavari to increase breastmilk production
  16. Tips to increase breastmilk production
  17. Manage stress to increase breastmilk production
  18. Stop smoking and alcohol consumption to increase breastmilk
  19. Other tips to increase breastmilk production
  20. Doctors for Foods and tips to increase breast milk

Breastfeeding describes a golden time for you and your infant to bond. It helps you spend time with the baby, which is important to bring you two close. When it comes to breastfeeding, it is important that you never give up and keep feeding the baby because your bodies produce milk in response to the baby’s demands. So, the more you feed, the more milk your body will form. Simple, right? Sure, it is. Here are some feeding tips to keep you going:

Initiating breastfeeding early is quite important to ensure that your breasts produce sufficient milk for your baby. Studies suggest that breastfeeding during the first few weeks is critical to achieving a constant milk supply.

3 to 5 days post delivery, breast milk will start forming quite more rapidly causing your breasts to feel full. You may feel heaviness in breasts and may notice a rise in temperature. This is a sign that you must begin breastfeeding your baby to get off that excess milk. Some women may even feel that their breasts are hard and lumpy during this period.

It is important to not miss this first feed in order to initiate the automated cycle of breastmilk production by your body. Breastmilk produced after the first feed flows so well that it may often drip from your nipples all by itself. All these symptoms are quite normal and hint that you must start.

So, you started feeding your baby and the little one is trying to suckle on your nipples and derive the best nutrition it can from the feed. But, are you sure your baby is properly suckling and that all the nutrition is reaching it? Well, here is how you can know.

First of all, the baby needs to be well attached to your nipples and the breast in order for it to suckle properly. You can ensure this by bringing the baby closer to your bare chest while supporting the area of its head, neck and shoulder. Your baby's head must be slightly tilted towards the back in order to ensure that the feed is reaching it properly. You can gently guide the infant to latch to your breast until it covers the region of your areola.

You will notice that the infant is feeding by looking at its nostrils which will flare up while the baby is feeding. Proper latching of the baby will send the signals to the brain to regulate breast milk production.

Breastmilk is produced as a response of the body to breastfeeding. This follows a positive feedback mechanism, which means that the more you feed, the more breast milk will your body produce. While you do that, it is important to remember that breastfeeding is a new activity for you and your baby, so, it is essential to give it some time and be confident of satisfying the baby’s needs.

Perceived feelings of low breast milk production drive a lot of women to stop breastfeeding within the first week of initiation or before the fourth week. In such cases, the new mothers starts to believe that the feed provided by them was not sufficient enough for the baby's nutrition, which is why they stop, following which breastmilk production ceases.

Studies have reported that optimal milk production was achieved when mothers fed at least 5 times a day during the first month. Due to this positive correlation, it was also established that reducing the number of these feeds can limit breastmilk production. However, the quantity of milk consumed by the baby also matters. Some infants are able to take up sufficient quantities in about 4-5 feeds, which also works.

If your infant is unable to take milk this frequently, storing breastmilk with the help of a pump will help. Use a hospital grade pump to obtain breastmilk in between the feeds. Eat something and make sure to rest before beginning, then apply some warmth to your breasts or massage them in order to obtain breastmilk.

Breast massages stimulate the release of breastmilk and are an effective method, which can be employed before the initiation of the feed. Light massages ease the flow of milk from milk ducts and make it available for the baby. It has been found that relaxing with the help of light music and gently massaging your breasts improves milk production. You can also make the use of an oil to improve these massage. Follow these steps:

  • Take 2 to 3 teaspoons of coconut oil in a bowl
  • Heat it until its warm
  • Apply heated oil to your breasts while massaging gently in circular motions

Application of heated oil will additionally help to open any milk ducts that could have been blocked due to an infrequent feed.

Having a balanced diet is the key to the optimal health of yourself and your baby. Since the baby is entirely dependent on you for nutrition, it is only fair that you provide it with all the essential dietary components. Further, a balanced diet is also important to maintain your energy levels in order to ensure an optimal production. Dietary restriction immensely reduces breastmilk production. So, it is important that you take a balanced diet consuming around 2000 daily calories (will vary according to activity levels and the number of infants to be fed) while taking care of the following components:

(Read more: Post-pregnancy diet chart)

Protein, as we all know, are building blocks of life and are essential in providing energy to each body cell. Since no particular increase in daily calorie intake is recommended during lactation, it is important that you increase your protein intake so as to derive some extra energy required for lactation.

A study conducted on Indian women found that an increase in protein intake from 50-60g per day to 100g per day immensely increased breastmilk production. Include more of eggs, pulses, lean chicken and dairy products in your diet to add to your total protein consumption.

An increase in fluid intake during lactation is quintessential to support your energy needs so that the body is able to produce enough milk for the baby and you are able to feed without feeling dehydrated.

So, drink at least 2 to 3 litres of water per day while you are breastfeeding.

The infant is dependent on your body stores of iron until 6 months postpartum. Also, iron is essential for breastmilk production. So, increase the consumption of fish, chicken, nuts and green leafy vegetables in your diet.

Caffeine causes you to feel dehydrated and can affect the quality and quantity of your breastmilk. So, you must avoid more than 3-4 servings of caffeine in the form of tea or coffee.

Galactogogues are agents that are used to stimulate and increase breast milk production and include a variety of commonly used herbs. Let’s have a look at the best of these herbs and their actions:

The most commonly used herb for its galactagogue effects, fenugreek, stimulates the growth of the mammary glands and increases breast milk production. It may also influence the maintenance and duration of lactation. To use fenugreek for this effect, you can make fenugreek tea in the following manner:

  • Soak a spoonful of fenugreek seeds in a glass of water
  • Boil in the morning
  • Strain and enjoy

Increasing the production of methi leaves in the form of delectable vegetables like aalu methi, methi matar is also recommended.

The use of fennel seeds has been demonstrated to increase breast milk production in women by increasing the secretion of milk without having any adverse effects. You can either chew on raw fennel seeds or replace your conventional tea with fennel tea by following this recipe:

  • Take a spoonful of fennel seeds and a cup of water in a pan.
  • Bring this mixture to a boil
  • Strain and enjoy

This is another herb which helps to increase breastmilk production in its aqueous state. So, it is the best idea to have it as a tea. Just follow these steps:

  • Take a teaspoon of crushed anise seeds
  • Add to a cup of boiling water
  • Let it sit for 10 minutes
  • Strain and drink.
  • Sip twice each day to get maximum benefits.

Shatavari is an Indian plant belonging to the Asparagaceae family with its mention in several Ayurvedic texts to increase breastmilk production. It increases milk secretion and improves milk yield by favouring the growth of mammary glands. Further, the roots of this plant help to maintain milk secretion as demonstrated in animal models.

To utilise this benefit, you can make the use of shatavari powder obtained from grounded shatavari roots. However, you must get in touch with your doctor to determine its safe dosage during lactation.

There are certain lifestyle changes which you can implement to increase the production of breastmilk if you currently feel that it is not satisfying your baby. Let’s have a look at the best of these tips:

Breastfeeding is a natural activity. Your body will produce milk as much as the infant consumes. It is important to not stress too much about this concern since this can negatively affect your milk supply.

Your body produces milk due to milk-ejection reflex, which functions quite well in healthy women. However, during states of anxiety, whether due to milk production or otherwise, this reflex is inhibited, which reduces milk production. Studies have ascertained even more serious outcomes during chronic states of stress.

So, it is very important that you stay relaxed and continue feeding even if you suffer from any physical concerns like breast swelling or pain. However, don't avoid checking in with a gynae if the condition becomes unbearable.

Indulging in smoking and alcohol is as detrimental to breastmilk production as it is to your health. These habits do not just affect the volume of breastmilk produced but also hamper its quality, having health consequences on the infant. This occurs due to an inhibitory effect on prolactin and oxytocin hormones, which regulate breastmilk production. Smoking stimulates the release of adrenaline, which is responsible for these effects.

Lower prevalence of breastfeeding is observed among smoking mothers. Statistics reveal that women smoking about 12 cigarettes per day had 30-50% lesser prolactin levels.

The effects of alcohol are dose-dependent and less obvious than that of smoking with only mild derangement in breastmilk production occurring from the regular use of alcohol. Yet, it is best to stay away from indulging in these habits for the best health of your baby.

(Read more: How to quit alcohol)

  • Offer both the breasts to the infant to ensure an optimal milk production. Keep switching between the two. Use compression to aid flow while the baby is feeding.
  • Do not go longer than 5 hours without feeding.
  • Make sure that your breasts are empty after the feed. If the baby is unable to feed entirely, make the use of a breast pump to empty both your breasts.
  • Use the pump in a quiet and relaxed place. Thinking about your baby or looking at its pictures may help this process.
  • Use breast massage and hot compression to improve milk production.
  • Increase skin to skin contact with the baby while it is feeding. Dress the baby in just diapers or underpants. This will allow the baby to feel breast sensations.
  • Infants must be exclusively breastfed during the first six months to ensure optimal production and secretion of breastmilk by the body. This means that no additional foods or drinks be given to them.
  • Avoid stress by indulging in some soft music or practising meditation to ensure that breastmilk production is not compromised due to stress.
  • Get a back rub or a massage. This may help in stimulating the nerves responsible for lactation.
  • Do not eat any unprescribed medicines as these can interfere with lactation.
  • Talk to your doctor about your current medications to rule out their interference in lactation.
  • Stop consuming birth control pills while you are still breastfeeding.
  • Avoid going on any calorie restriction or weight loss diet.
  • Eat balanced meals and consume your postnatal vitamins if indicated.
  • Take hot, relaxing baths.
  • Ensure that you take enough sleep of 7 to 9 hours.
  • Maintain a lactation diary.

Visit a doctor if you face too many problems with feeding or have a very less flow or production of milk.

Dr. Siddharth Rawat

Dr. Siddharth Rawat

General Physician
8 Years of Experience

Dr. Syed Mukhtar Mohiuddin

Dr. Syed Mukhtar Mohiuddin

General Physician
7 Years of Experience

Dr. Gopikanth K.P.

Dr. Gopikanth K.P.

General Physician
2 Years of Experience

Dr. Vachanaram Choudhary

Dr. Vachanaram Choudhary

General Physician
1 Years of Experience

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References

  1. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Nutritional Status During Pregnancy and Lactation.Milk Volume. Nutrition During Lactation. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1991.
  2. Office on women's health [internet]: US Department of Health and Human Services; Making breastmilk
  3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Breastfeeding
  4. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Breastfeeding facts
  5. Department of Health. Why is Breastfeeding Important for your Baby?. New York State
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