New moms are often concerned about how to improve their milk supply to meet the needs of their babies. Breast pumping and eating the right foods can both help to increase milk production.
It’s important to remember that what we put in our bodies will show on the outside, including milk production. If you are lower on the supply, we’ve got a few ideas to boost it back up.
What foods help to produce breast milk?
It’s important for new moms to stay nourished and hydrated. No matter what your milk production is like, food and lots of water can still boost your production and provide nourishment for baby.
Here are a few foods that can really give you a boost when your milk is low.
Hydrate hydrate hydrate! If you’re not getting enough water throughout the day, aim to drink a glass or two every time you nurse or pump.
Oatmeal for breakfast is practically an American classic! If you are a new mom you need meals that are nutritious, quick and easy. A bowl of oatmeal meets all of those requirements and makes a great go-to breakfast for new mothers.
While oats can help improve milk production, they also increase energy and aid digestion.
You don’t have to stick to just a plain bowl of oatmeal. Get creative with lactation muffins, freezable oatmeal cups and overnight oats for a quick morning breakfast. Jazz it up with fresh fruit, chocolate chips or nuts.
I’m a bar type of girl when I’m out and about, so I tend towards lactation bars. One of my faves is Milkful’s Lactation Oat Bars.
Due to the estrogen-like properties, Fennel seeds can increase milk production. This herb has a long history in increasing breastmilk production, aiding digestion, and even help alleviate baby-colic.
Fennel can also be consumed as a tea, flavoring agent or roasted like a vegetable.
Used in many different dishes, garlic has a reputation for aiding in many bodily functions, including increasing breastmilk and digestions.
Garlic is a popular ingredient in stir fry, soups, meat rubs and can be used in just about every dish imaginable. Easily incorporate it into your next dish by purchasing the minced garlic in a jar from the grocery store.
As kids, we were always told carrots gave us sharp eyesight. Now, as a new mom, it can increase your breastmilk production. Add this vegetable to your meal rotation if you want to increase milk supply.
Steamed carrots (add fennel and garlic, too!) with butter, pureed carrot soup or even carrot juice incorporated in a smoothie.
Should I pump after every feeding?
In addition to a proper diet, breast pumping can help improve milk supply.
Our boobs don’t get text messages. So we have to tell them that we need more milk by emptying them fully and more frequently if we want them to make more milk.
Now, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your boobs produce more milk after just one day. It can take a couple days or weeks of increased demand before they get the message, so don’t lose hope too quickly.
Aim to pump after every feeding, especially if your breasts are not entirely empty after nursing. Pumping will get rid of whatever is left in your breasts, giving your body a message to create more milk.
Pumping also balances out lopsided breastfeeding. Some babies will only breastfeed on one side, or some mothers favor one side over the other. In those cases, only pump on the side that has milk left. This will even out how much milk gets produced on each side.
Although it’s ideal to pump after every feeding, don’t stress if you have to skip a session here and there. Life happens, and it’s not the end of the world. Milk production might initially slow down, but it should pick right back up when you begin pumping again. That being said, be careful not to skip too many sessions.
Besides increasing milk supply, pumping has other benefits.
- Gives the other parent a chance to bottle feed baby.
- Builds up storage of milk for babysitters.
- The storage of milk can also be used to feed your baby in public if you aren’t comfortable breastfeeding.
- Babies who won’t latch are still able to receive nourishment from highly nutritious breastmilk.
- Working moms have the ability to continue feeding their babies breastmilk even after returning to work.
How long should I pump to increase milk supply?
As already mentioned, the goal is to completely eliminate milk from the breasts after each feeding or pumping session for the sake of improving milk supply.
Once the breasts have been emptied of milk continue pumping for about 2-5 minutes longer. Although this length of time brings the best results, pumping for any duration is helpful. So don’t let a few missed minutes stop you from pumping. Something is better than nothing.
You can also try pumping more often for shorter amounts of time. And if it’s a challenge to pump at set intervals each day, focus more on how many times you pump within 24 hours, which should be about 8 to 12 times.
Eating a diet full of foods that help produce milk and pumping regularly after feedings should really boost your production of milk. Now put that knowledge of how to improve milk supply to good use so that you can provide your little one with plenty of nourishing milk.