Health organizations around the globe have united to promote breast milk as a natural source of nutritional and emotional sustenance for babies. The benefits of breast milk greatly exceed any alternative method of infant feeding. So they encourage women to breastfeed exclusively for six months and to continue for at least two years to take advantage of its benefits.
Though low milk supply is rare, there are times that a baby may struggle to get enough milk for other reasons. In this article, we will focus on the signs that your baby is not getting a sufficient supply of milk and how certain foods help increase your breast milk supply.
Signs your baby isn’t getting enough milk
It’s hard to exactly figure out the amount of milk your baby is eating when breastfeeding. But there are some signs that you may watch for:
- Your baby is sleeping longer than usual. Newborn babies need to eat every 2-4 hours so you need to watch out for this. The baby should be nursing 10 to 12 times in a 24-hour period. If your baby is feeding less than eight times a day you need to talk to your baby’s doctor.
- If feedings are too long, the baby might keep trying to get milk for over an hour. Or if feedings are too short, the baby may quickly give up on nursing after a few minutes.
- Latching is really painful for you or the baby hasn’t latched deeply enough.
- The baby is not producing stools or urine. During the first week, your baby will have about the same number of wet and poopy diapers as the days of their life. So on day 1, there is at least one wet and one poop. On day 2, at least there are two wets and two poos, and so on and so forth. Until day 5 and on the next few days, you should expect to change eight to 10 diapers each day.
- The baby is not gaining weight. It’s normal for a newborn’s weight to fluctuate during the first few days. By day 10, a baby’s weight would typically rebound to its birth weight. And at five months, your baby’s weight should be double of its weight at birth.
- Dehydration. If your baby has dark-colored urine, a dry mouth or jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin or eyes, or if she is lethargic and reluctant to feed, she could be dehydrated.
Foods that will help boost milk production
Your body should be properly nourished in order to keep your milk supply flowing. Eating nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day is the best way to guarantee a healthy milk supply and boost milk for your baby.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, during lactation, women require an average of 400-500 additional calories per day to produce a sufficient milk supply for the baby. This will still vary depending on the mother’s pre-pregnancy weight, if she is exclusively breastfeeding, and whether she has begun to add solids to the baby’s diet.
Foods with lactation-promoting properties are called lactogenic foods or galactagogues. Adding this to your diet can give your milk supply a boost. The book Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide listed out some lactogenic foods. Here are the following:
- Oatmeal – It has properties that lower cholesterol, maintain a healthy blood pressure, and may also help with lactation.
- Salmon – It contains both essential fatty acids and omega-3s which are highly nutritious and essential for lactating mothers. Go for steamed, boiled, baked or grilled salmon.
- Spinach – This is a good source of calcium, iron, vitamin K, vitamin A, and folate or folic acid, which is also important for your increase of milk supply. Dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach also have phytoestrogens, which are reported to promote breast tissue health and lactation.
- Carrots – These too have phytoestrogens and are high in beta-carotene and vitamin A, which are both needed by lactating mothers. Carrots boost lactation and the quality of milk. You can have it as carrot juice in the morning or have it as snacks that you can dip with hummus.
- Legumes – Examples of legumes are chickpeas, lentils, lima beans, or green beans. Hummus is a perfect snack for lactating moms.
- Garlic – It is well known for boosting lactation in nursing mothers because of its chemical compounds.
- Papaya – It has enzymes and phytochemicals that can enhance breast tissue as well as improve lactation. It also has a natural sedative that can help you relax while alleviating the milk let-down process.
- Asparagus – It is high in fiber, folic acid, and vitamins A, C, and K and has phytoestrogens which aids in milk production and helps maintain a healthy milk supply. Asparagus also contains tryptophan where it stimulates the production of prolactin, a hormone that triggers breast development and milk production.
- Brown rice – There are researches shown that brown rice enhances breast milk production. It is also highly beneficial to the mother by giving her more energy for breastfeeding.
There are several foods that you can add to your diet to help increase your breastmilk supply. However, it is important to remember to view them as just a part of a complete diet. Ensure that you are eating a surplus of calories and drinking plenty of water. And if you have issues with your milk production, contact your doctor right away to determine the problem. Plus, try our Belta Folic Acid supplement and Sakura Omega-3 Dietary supplement to help in increasing your lactation and improve your breast milk quality!