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Breastfeeding Supply – How to Increase Your Breastmilk

We as a society have gotten out of the practice of breastfeeding. Unfortunately, the heroic efforts of the La Leche League and prominent actresses haven’t yet been enough to turn the tide to make breastfeeding the cultural norm once again. The traditional repository for breastfeeding knowledge – old wives, those keeper of tales – aren't as capable of telling the young wives how to breastfeed any longer. Fortunately, there are sources that can point you in the right direction when you need simple ways to increase your milk supply and production.

First, make sure you’re properly hydrated. If you aren’t getting enough liquid, it will be hard to make enough milk, no matter what else you are doing to boost production. Eat a healthy diet while you're at it, making sure to get enough healthy food and calories.

In addition, you should try to need your baby more often. Your breastmilk supply is a careful balance of supply and demand – your supply will rise to meet the demand. Nurse your baby every two hours and let your baby nurse as long as she wants. Feeding during the night hours is especially important as your levels of oxytocin are higher at this time. It's OK to nap while the baby nurses at night, so long as you’re both lying in a safe position. Just keep your baby stimulating your breasts and you’ll be rewarded with an increased milk supply.

Don’t let your baby go for more than four hours without eating. If you have to wake up your baby to nurse during the night, do so. This aggressive feeding schedule may prevent your breasts from “filling up,” but don’t worry about this. Your breasts don’t have to fill up in order to produce milk.

When you do feed, make sure you’re making skin to skin contact with your baby while feeding her. Instead of just exposing your nipple area, remove your bra. Remove the baby's top and cradle your baby against you. Put a blanket over the two of you if needed. This skin to skin contact will boost your hormone production and, consequently, your milk production as well. When you’re feeding your baby, visualize yourself producing milk and your milk letting down.

Offer your breast to the baby frequently and always let your baby nurse as long she wants. After your baby has nursed, burp the baby and hold her upright for about 10 minutes, then offer the breast again. This helps stimulate the production of hind milk, which is a richer milk that’s better for your baby.

To stimulate milk production, don’t let your baby use any artificial nipples, either bottles or pacifiers. The only nipple-shaped object in your baby's mouth should be your nipples. If your baby wants to suck for comfort, give the baby your breast. If you have to feed to offer your baby additional milk – either breast milk or formula – look into a supplemental nursing system or feeding via syringe or cup.

If these techniques aren’t giving you the results you’re looking for, call your local La Leche League. These women have a lot of practice with nursing and can help you with any breastfeeding problems you may be experiencing.

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