Breast milk: Increasing supply

Are there any particular foods or drinks that increase the production of breast milk?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

There are no specific foods to eat that will stimulate production of breast milk, but there are things that can help with milk production. More important than what you eat is how your baby eats. When a baby is properly positioned, well-attached and sucking effectively, the longer a baby nurses at your breast the more milk will be produced. This is the single most important way to increase your milk production.

From a mom's diet and nutrition standpoint, there are two important factors critical to producing milk. The first is drinking enough fluid. It doesn't have to be milk; water or juice is fine. You may be producing from 20 to 40 ounces of fluid a day, and that's quite a lot. Thirst is a good indicator of need, but may not do the whole job. It's a good rule of thumb to drink a bit more, past being quenched. It is also a good habit to fill a glass of water for yourself to drink while your baby is nursing. Drinking sufficient fluids won't make you produce more milk, but is important in replenishing lost fluids.

Nursing requires about an extra 500 calories per day. Women that go on restricted diets in an attempt to lose weight while they are nursing may be eating too few calories, which leaves them fatigued and without the energy necessary for optimal milk production.

Beer has been touted for years as being a stimulus to milk production. However, research shows that babies don't like alcoholic breastmilk, and actually drink less of it, resulting in less stimulation to the breast. Ultimately, this means a decrease in milk production.

Stress can negatively affect milk production, but reaching for a beer is not the best way to relax. Find an alternative way to rest and de-stress. Have a sitter come in so you can nap. Join a car pool so you can rest or sleep on the trip to and from work. Find ways to eliminate unnecessary chores, or perhaps relax your standards for tidiness and instead, sit down and close your eyes for a moment or two!

Caffeine stimulates milk production, but it also stimulates your baby. Caffeine finds its way into breast milk and large amounts can act on your baby as it does on you. Caffeine stays in baby's system longer than in an adult's, which will prolong its effect. Also, caffeine can make your baby irritable, as well as interfere with his sleep. One cup of coffee or a soda will not be a problem, but in large quantities (five or more cups of a caffeinated beverage a day), the levels of caffeine in breast milk can reach amounts that affect your baby.

The best prescription for maximum milk production is effective and frequent breastfeeding or milk expression, plenty of fluids, adequate calories and rest.

Watch Video: What's better, Breast or bottle?

 
 
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