When milk supply seems to be low, it can be a stressful thing for a new mother. As the body adjusts to the supply and demand of baby and as baby becomes a more proficient nurser, the breasts will appear to stop producing enough milk. No fear: the breasts are still producing enough milk to feed baby. They just aren't producing MORE than they need to, which causes leaking breasts and strong letdowns.
However, if the demand for the milk lessens (ie. returning to work or a baby going on a nursing strike), the milk supply will be reduced. Stress is a common reason for diminished supply. Also, a nursing mother who becomes pregnant may find her milk supply decreases as her body's hormones switch attention to feeding the new baby.
There are many ways to increase milk supply. The two most important ways are to nurse as much as possible and maintain the determination to breastfeed.
- Reduce stresses. Try to relax while feeding. Nurse in a quiet room. This is your opportunity to relax for a bit. The simple act of relaxing will encourage letdown and there will be no distractions for baby to make him stop nursing before he's full.
- Drink lots of water. A body that doesn't receive enough fluid intake is going to have a problem producing fluid! Drink at least a gallon of water a day.
- Massage your breasts. Babies will naturally knead the breast which triggers letdown. This will in turn cause the body to produce more milk.
- Watch your diet. A diet that consists of fast food and lots of caffeine isn't good for you or baby. You will need lots of nutrients to provide a nutritious meal for your baby. Some foods can act like galactogogues (supply boosters), like oatmeal or flax seed.
- Use natural freshly ground herbs. Fenugreek is an excellent herb to help increase milk supply. It is an expectorant and has no side effects other than causing your milk to have a maple syrup scent. Milk thistle is another great supply enhancer, though not as effective as fenugreek. You can also buy ready-made tinctures specifically for this, like Mother's Milk, or Mother's Milk Two for pregnant mothers who are nursing.
Remember! the BEST way to increase milk supply is to let baby feed on demand...often!