Simple Steps Mothers Can Take to Increase Milk Supply

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Many new moms are concerned about having adequate milk supply for their newborns. A Renown lactation expert provides several easy tips to boost a mother’s milk production.

By Desaree Wroblewski, RN, IBCLC, Board Certified Lactation Consultant

Keeping baby close to a mother’s chest has been recognized as one of the most significant things a new mother can do in the early hours and days following birth. Whenever possible, it helps to hold the baby upright against her breasts with baby’s chest against hers. This is especially helpful if mother and baby can have skin-to-skin contact — in other words, with nothing separating them like a shirt or bra.

What are the Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Contact?

Studies have shown that both baby and mother benefit from this special bond, and in mothers, it actually helps to raise her oxytocin levels. Scientists have measured these levels and find that there is a direct correlation to the release of a special milk-making hormone and time spent with baby in this manner. Spending time with baby near is a great way for a new mom to observe and learn her infant’s language. For this reason as well as many others, if baby seems reluctant in the early hours or days to breastfeed or latch on a consistent basis, we will often encourage mom to “wear” her baby in a carrier or sling, skin to skin, while she goes about her daily activities.

Tips to Increase Milk Supply

A comfortable, relaxing position for both mother and baby can help to foster a good milk supply by increasing the hormones that enhance milk production. Warm baths, soft lighting and music, and shoulder massage are all great ways to de-stress and create a more harmonious environment. Taking a nap when feeling tired sounds simple and yet can prove to be a powerful restorative measure.

Maximizing milk removal from the breasts in the first weeks has been shown to be particularly important in calibrating as high a milk supply as possible. This may mean pumping, massage and hand expression of milk in the beginning if baby is not able to do it effectively. Some babies may start out a little slow to catch on, and others may perhaps be away from mother — for instance, in the NICU. Chiropractic care, acupuncture and acupressure have all been measures that many professionals recognize as helpful to lactating mothers.

Wondering What’s Normal? Just Ask

Whatever the reason may be that a new mother is concerned about increasing her milk production, it is a common concern and one that should be addressed, as her perception of “how breastfeeding is going” is of vital importance to her emotional health. Forums and support groups are a great way for new mothers to connect with others who can offer the encouragement and reassurance, which can make such a big difference. Many of these forums and groups offer input from Board Certified Lactation Consultants, who can help evaluate if there is a valid concern and the appropriate measures to take. Ideas can include but are not limited to private consultations, assessments and communication with physicians. Certified Lactation Counselors can also help with putting together a plan for weight checks, graphing baby’s growth and other supportive advice.

For more support and advice for breastfeeding moms, please visit Renown’s Lactation Connection page.

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