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From staying hydrated to connecting with an IBCLC, here’s what you can do to help with milk production
So you’re a new mom who wants to maximize your milk supply. To start, know that most moms make enough milk—and there are ways to help make it come in faster. Breast milk production usually amps up two to three days after birth, but every mom is different. To help you feel confident in feeding your baby from day one and beyond, here are a few helpful tips on how to make your milk come in faster.
Take Advantage of the Golden Hour
Nursing within the first hour of birth, often called the Golden Hour, will allow you to take advantage of the high oxytocin levels in your body and encourage your lactation hormones to get to work. This also gets your baby the nutrient-rich colostrum they need at this stage. Colostrum is the first form of breast milk you’ll produce and it serves as a natural antibiotic that helps protect your baby from disease while promoting their early growth and development. Although colostrum may appear to come in slowly and in a small quantity, trust your body. Your breasts will produce the right amount your baby’s small tummy needs during the first few days after delivery.
Indulge in Skin-to-Skin Contact
To help with milk production and boost your supply from the get-go, engage in immediate and frequent skin-to-skin contact with your baby. Sometimes called kangaroo care, spending time with your baby cuddled close to your chest promotes early and continued breastfeeding success by stimulating your hormone levels and your baby’s development. On average, moms who do skin-to-skin during the first hour after birth are twice as likely to breastfeed within the first hour and continue to breastfeed for six weeks longer than those who do not. Plus, skin-to-skin boosts mom and baby’s bond, lowers mom’s risk for postpartum depression and reduces infant crying. Once you’re home from the hospital, you and your newborn will still benefit from this daily skin-to-skin contact.
Get that Baby on the Boob
Breast milk is based on supply and demand. Essentially, the more you nurse, the more milk your breasts will produce. Even before your milk comes in, offer your breast to stimulate milk production. You can even request to have your baby placed directly on your chest following delivery, which will help set you up for long-term breastfeeding success. Many hospitals consider this a standard practice, but be sure to find out in advance. For a newborn baby, keep up supply and demand by nursing around the clock. Prepare yourself! Typically, a newborn will feed every two to three hours.
Recognize Hunger Cues
Responding to your baby’s hunger cues before they get too fussy not only makes breastfeeding easier but also translates to more frequent feedings (and more milk production!). In the early stages of hunger, your baby may smack their lips, open and close their mouth and suck on their hands. If you notice these signs of hunger, it’s time to start nursing!
If you don’t have a chance to react to their hunger in the early stage, the next signs to look out for are rooting around on the chest of the person carrying them, trying to get into a good nursing position by lying back or pulling on your clothes, fidgeting and squirming, hitting you on the arm or chest repeatedly and starting to fuss or breathe heavily. These are all indications of active hunger, and you should try to start nursing before they reach the later stage.
In the final stage of hunger, your little one will move their head frantically from side to side and start crying to indicate their distress. If your baby reaches this point, then you’ll need to calm them down before nursing can begin. A baby who is crying too much may have difficulty latching, which can lead to pain while breastfeeding among other issues. Swaddling your baby, rocking them back and forth and soothing them are all good ways to calm them down so that nursing can resume.
Breast milk is about 90% water, so your body needs water to make it. While extra fluids do not necessarily lead to increased milk production, dehydration will impact your energy level, your mood and your milk production. Our tips: Keep a water bottle on hand at all times, and ask those around you to refill it whenever needed. Drink whenever you’re thirsty, and aim for about 128 ounces per day, depending on the temperature outside and your activity level. Remember, drinking too much water can make you feel bloated and uncomfortable, so pay attention to your body. Also avoid drinking too many sugary or caffeinated beverages, as they may contribute to dehydration.
Just like your milk needs fluid, your body needs energy. Breastfeeding burns around 500 calories per day. Taking care of a new baby, recovering from pregnancy and breastfeeding means you’ll need a lot of energy to keep producing that liquid gold for your baby. The kind of food you eat matters, too. Although some moms swear certain foods boost milk supply, for the most part, it’s about the quality and quantity of food you eat. Make sure to eat a balanced diet including fruit, vegetables, protein and whole grains when breastfeeding.
Use a Breast Pump
There are plenty of reasons to introduce pumping alongside nursing. If, for example, you’re not able to nurse your baby during those first few hours after birth because one of you needs additional care, one way to stimulate your milk supply is by pumping. While many hospitals have hospital-grade breast pumps available for scenarios like these, some moms need to continue pumping once they’re home to increase their milk supply, build up a backup stash before heading back to work or to feed a baby who is unable to latch. Whatever your reasons, the Affordable Care Act requires health insurance plans to cover the cost of a breast pump. Check your coverage today and order an insurance-covered breast pump through our sister company Ashland Breast Pumps.
Connect with an IBCLC
IBCLCs are professionally trained lactation experts whose job it is to support breastfeeding families. They’ll provide expert help and advice on all things breastfeeding from how to make your milk come in faster to getting a good latch and so much more. If something doesn’t feel right or you encounter an issue with breastfeeding, don’t wait before reaching out for help. Like breast pumps, the ACA also requires insurance companies to cover lactation care—and most insurers cover up to three lactation visits to start, so set up an appointment with one through our network.