After a long break from blogging, I've decided to get back to it! I asked for topics on a facebook post and my friend Shannon suggested I write about ways to increase milk production. Great question!
Pregnancy and birth are a time when a mother is often depleted of nutrients and energy stores. If she decides to breastfeed her baby, there is an even greater demand placed upon it. Her body is continuing to perfectly grow her child and needs everything that baby needs in order to make quality milk.
When a mama isn't producing enough milk, I think it is a good chance to assess how she is taking care of herself. Middle of the night feedings, work schedules, and adjusting to having a new member of the family can leave a mother feeling exhausted and alone. Depletion of any kind can create deficiencies in the body. Sometimes adequate rest can really boost milk production.
The most crucial factor is how often a baby is nursing. Increased nursing should increase milk production in the mother. Skipping feedings and bottles of formula will definitely lessen milk production. When baby is nursing on a good schedule (every 1-3 hours) and milk production is still low, it is time to consider other factors.
Hydration is another key factor to consider. Breastmilk is mostly water so a decrease in fluids by mom can certainly create low volume of milk. Besides keeping water with you all day, you can also drink nutrient rich beverages such as nettles tea (recipe included at bottom), or a lactation inducing tea such as "Mothers Milk" by Traditional Medicinals. Protein and high quality fats are also needed for both mother and baby at this time and increasing sources of these macronutrients may help build a mother up enough to produce more milk.
When these basic measures don't seem to be helping, a galactagogue might help. Galactagogues are substances that can help the body lactate. Fenugreek, fennel, blessed thistle and alfalfa are well known galactagoges. Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic remedy that is sometimes used as a galactagogue. I would recommend consulting an herbalist or a naturopath before taking higher doses of herbs to make sure they are right for your body and any other conditions you might have.
1 cup dried nettles
4 cups water
Combine nettles and cold water and allow to sit overnight. Drain in morning and drink throughout the day. Excellent source of calcium and kiddos love it too!