The production of breast milk is primarily a supply and demand situation. The more milk you need the more you will produce. The more often the baby feeds or you express your milk, the more you will produce. It is possible to stimulate milk production by encouraging the baby to nurse or expressing milk every two hours.
Women often reach a point where they feel that they are not producing enough milk. There are three main ages that this occurs at, at birth a mother may worry that her milk has not come in. At around six weeks and twelve weeks she may feel her supply is not keeping up with demand. These blips coincide with growth spurts from your baby that demand an increase in milk supply and it can take a few days to catch up to the new demands.
It is possible to not be producing enough milk but it is actually very rare. The first thing to consider in ensuring your supply is your own diet. In late pregnancy your body naturally lays down fat stores, typically on the hips and thighs, to provide calories for breast-feeding.
The pressures of modern society on women to maintain a thin shape during pregnancy and then pop back to pre pregnancy size following delivery mean that fat is often not stored, and then many women restrict their calorie intake following birth. In fact many experts agree that if you lose weight at a rate of more than two pounds a week it can be dangerous for your baby as the break down of the fat in your body releases toxins that pass into your breast milk.
It is important to maintain your diet following childbirth. If you are breastfeeding all your babies nutrition is dependent on yours. Everything that your child needs has to come from your body. This means you have to eat it first. Your baby needs all the vitamins and minerals as well as protein, fats and carbohydrates and you have to provide all of them. It is important therefore to maintain a healthy diet containing all the food groups whilst you are breastfeeding.
Make sure you eat a diet high in protein, calcium and iron. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Eat oily fish at least three times a week to provide the omega three oils vital for brain development. Your body will provide many of your child's nutrients at the expense of your own body, for instance calcium will come at the expense of your bones, but mostly you have to eat the food first. Having oatmeal for breakfast is a well-known way to increase milk supply.
Milk production also requires a lot of fluid. A breast-feeding mother may need more than five liters of fluids a day in hot climates. Some of this comes from the foods you eat such as fruits, but a large quantity of water must be consumed as well. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol are not a good idea as theses substances pass into the milk.
If you are following a healthy diet and drinking plenty of fluids but still think that your milk production is low then there are several herbal teas that can be taken to stimulate milk production. The most commonly recommended is Fenugreek, which smells like maple syrup. The first few times you drink it you may notice some slight diarrhea but this should settle quickly. Asthmatic women should not use Fenugreek as it can worsen symptoms; it can also stimulate uterine contractions and should be avoided in pregnant women.
There many alternatives to Fenugreek: Blessed Thistle, Alfalfa, stinging nettle and fennel seed teas all stimulate milk production. These can be drunk alone or made into personalized mixtures.
The most important factor in ensuring your milk supply is to make sure there is the demand, feed the baby or express milk often. get plenty of rest as stress will stop milk, and make sure you are not taking anything that will stop your milk, such as combined contraceptive pills.
Eat a full and healthy diet and do not attempt rapid weight loss. Drink plenty of fluids. If there is still a problem there are many herbal teas that will help.