10 Milk Supply Tips For Better Breastfeeding
Here are 10 essential breastfeeding rules to establish a healthy milk supply!
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In order to make the perfect amount of milk for your baby, it’s important to understand the fundamentals…
#1. Demand enough milk from your body
The golden rule for milk supply is that milk production = Supply + Demand. Your milk supply depends almost ENTIRELY on how much and how often you empty your breasts.
Milk removal triggers milk production. So at its most basic - to make enough milk for your baby, feed your baby plenty of milk enough times a day.
If you don’t remove enough milk throughout the day and night - your milk production will not keep up with baby.
Milk collects in your breasts between feedings (and that’s why you feel engorged when a lot of time has passed since your last feed). The more milk that accumulates in your breast throughout the day, the slower your speed of milk production and the less milk you’ll make.
On the flip side the more times you remove milk, the higher the rate of milk production and the more milk you’ll make.
We like to think of it like this - the amount that you breastfeed or pump today is like putting in an order of breast milk tomorrow!
#2. For a healthy milk supply, start removing milk a.s.a.p after birth
Ideally practice latching within the first hour postpartum when your baby experiences something called the “GOLDEN HOUR.” (a special time right after birth when babies are generally awake, taking everything in, and looking for the breast)
If you’re separated from your baby after birth or your baby struggles to latch, you can hand express or pump. From the very beginning, it’s necessary for milk to be removed FREQUENTLY and EFFICIENTLY (via baby or expression).
#3. Know that colostrum is enough the first few days…
Right after birth and until your milk officially comes in (usually around day 2-4 postpartum), your body will make colostrum. It’s a thick, yellow-tinged milk that’s small in amount but mighty in substance!
It’s jam-packed with immunities and is EXACTLY what your baby needs to thrive until your milk comes in. It’s potent, powerful stuff!
Colostrum is where the term liquid gold comes from and every DROP is beneficial for your baby. You won’t produce a lot of it but that’s no problem. Colostrum is enough because your baby’s tummy is TINY and the small amount of colostrum you produce is the perfect amount that they need as your milk transitions.
#4. Breastfeed at night
Did you know that babies cycle through their sleep in a different pattern than adults? That definitely explains why we sometimes feel so tired taking care of babies at night!
Studies continually show that night waking is normal for infants and that breastfeeding at night is important for building and maintaining a robust milk supply.
Sleeping in the same room as your baby can allow for easier middle of the night feedings.
Need an affordable solution for sleeping in the same room as baby? THIS is our favorite!
#5. Ensure *EFFICIENT milk removal
It all comes down to a great latch from your baby or effectively expressing milk (either manually or from a pump).
You’ll know your baby is removing milk efficiently if they’re having proper amount of wet/dirty diapers for their age and they’re gaining along their growth curve.
If your baby doesn’t want to latch or can’t latch well, you’ll need to express your milk until they learn or are ready.
Because colostrum the first few days is so thick, hand expression is more efficient than a pump at getting it out.
If your baby is having trouble with latching, get help as soon as possible from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). They are amazing at troubleshooting latch issues and are the most qualified in lactation.
#6. Your milk supply calibrates the first 40 days
The first 40 days are SO important for your milk supply. How much milk you remove during this time will affect your how much milk your body will eventually make.
That’s why moms can make enough milk for twins or even triplets!!!
#7. Don’t freak out during growth spurts and cluster feeding
All babies occasionally experience growth spurts and sometimes cluster feed.
Babies react to a growth spurt by increasing their feeding frequency and duration for a few days up to a week to bump up your milk supply.
Cluster feedings happen when babies will cluster the feeds together and you may feel like they’re feeding every hour!
A lot of moms misinterpret growth spurts and cluster feeding as meaning their baby is not getting enough and then they start to doubt themselves and their body’s ability to produce milk.
Please know that ALL babies have growth spurts and cluster feed at times.
If you respond to your baby’s cues, feed on demand, and trust your body - your body will absolutely respond by making the perfect amount for your baby!
#8. Feed on demand, always
Because breast milk is digested quickly by your baby (in about 90 minutes), you’ll need to remove milk frequently. The recommendation is at least 8-12 x every 24 hours.
Avoid missed feedings and avoid setting time restrictions for how long they feed.
Let your baby be your guide.
By knowing how to read your baby’s hunger cues and responding as soon as possible, you can trust that your baby will get enough and your milk supply will meet their demands.
#9. Understand how much milk you’re actually making
For the 1st month your milk supply will increase quickly (during the calibration phase) and then once it’s calibrated your milk supply will plateau between 1 month and 6 months until you introduce solids.
Breastfed babies don’t need more milk as they get older (except for occasional growth spurts).
After you introduce solids (usually around 6 months) your supply will slowly decrease as your baby eats more and more food (although breast milk should still provide a majority of their nutrition throughout the first year).
#10. Know what to expect
Did you know… Around 6-12 weeks your milk supply will regulate. During this time, your breasts may leak less, your let-down may be less obvious, your breasts may feel less full and you may even pump less. This it totally normal and means your milk supply has regulated to reach the optimum amount for your baby and you’re no longer making TOO much.
See other low milk supply fakeouts in THIS post!
Did you know… you can never completely empty the breast ? It’s like trying to empty a cup that’s always being refilled. more milk will keep flowing in while milk is being removed.
Did you know… As baby gets older and becomes more efficient, they’ll obtain more milk in less time and begin to space feedings farther apart.