What Helps Milk Production According to a Lactation Consultant
If you’re a new or expecting mom, then chances are you’re probably wondering what exactly will help your baby get the most amount of breast milk during lactation. The good news is that it’s not too late to increase your production and get your little one the very best start possible. Let’s take a look at what helps milk production and at some of the top things you can do to boost your supply according to a lactation consultant:
Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Lactation is an energetically demanding process both for you and your baby. Adequate, nutrient-rich meals are a must to support your body, reduce stress and maximize your milk supply. Foods that are rich in iron, zinc, and calcium, such as fish, eggs, legumes, whole grains, and yogurt, are key to helping increase milk supply. It’s also important to get a healthy, well-balanced diet to prevent nutrient deficiencies that can slow lactation or even cause a low milk supply. When you’re eating for two, make sure you’re eating for two!
Get 7-8 Hours of Sleep
Sleep is one of the most powerful natural processes for tissue repair and growth. When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re actually increasing the production of stress hormones like cortisol, which can reduce your milk supply. Make sure you’re getting a healthy amount of sleep, as well as taking time for relaxation, every day. You’ll find that your sleep improves a little bit after you’ve had a baby. That’s when you’re body is finally able to recharge, so make sure you have time to relax and unwind. Remember, too, that the longer you can spend in bed, the better the quality of sleep you’ll get.
Exercise can do more than just keep you healthy; it can also boost your milk supply. While you may have already known that exercise is good for you, you may not have known that it’s also very important for boosting milk production. Not only does increased milk production means that you’re getting more for your efforts, but it’s also going to help you feel better, too. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood-boosting hormones that can help with moodiness, anxiety, and stress. It’s also important to keep in mind that how you feel is going to affect your milk supply. If you feel stressed, upset, or anxious about feeding your baby, it’s likely that you’ll experience a low milk supply.
Pumping Is Worth the Time and Effort
Many new moms are confused about the benefits of pumping, and they wonder if they should spend their time and effort pumping instead of eating well. Luckily, there are many benefits of pumping that make it worth your time and effort. If you don’t have the time or inclination to regularly pump your breasts, it’s still beneficial to try. You can use a breast pump to extract the milk more efficiently and increase your milk supply. Pumping also helps your breasts recover faster, which can be very helpful if you have to return to work soon. If you don’t have the time to pump regularly, doing so can still be very helpful in the long run. Keep in mind that you should pump for at least ten minutes, four times a day, which is enough to cause a noticeable increase in milk supply.
Don’t Shower Right Before Bedtime
You may be tempted to take a long, relaxing shower right before bedtime, but don’t do it. Showers can be very stimulating, and they can interrupt your hormone balance, which can decrease your milk supply. It’s important, too, to note that showers can be very drying for your skin, which can lead to an increased risk of eczema in babies. It’s better to keep showers short and sweet and wait until later in the day. When your breasts are at their cleanest, they’ll be at their most productive, so avoid showers right before bedtime. Instead, wait until the middle of the day, when your breasts aren’t quite as clean, but they’re also not quite as oily.
Nipple Care Is Important Too
Like any mom, you want to make sure that your nipples are healthy and functioning optimally during lactation. If your nipples are cracked or dry, they may not be able to produce milk properly, which can slow your milk supply. Make sure to always wash your hands before touching your breasts, as well as clean your nipples with a gentle, non-medicated formula every day. If you notice that your nipples are becoming cracked or dry, you may want to consider using a medication-free nipple cream. Nipple creams can help to restore the natural lipid barrier of your nipples and restore the function of your lactation system.
The good news is that it’s never too late to increase your milk supply. With a little bit of effort and patience, you can boost your milk production and get your baby the nutrition and goodness that he or she needs. Remember, breastfeeding isn’t an event, it’s a skill that you have to practice every day.