One of the concerns that many new moms have is whether their breast milk supply will be adequate. While most mothers produce adequate breast milk for their babies, a good number of moms struggle to get enough milk. Low production of breast milk can happen as a result of many factors, including certain medical conditions, the use of some family planning methods, nutritional deficiencies as well as fluctuations in hormonal levels after delivery.
It is also important to note that when the baby is not latched properly, this can hamper optimal production of breast milk. Some mothers will also experience reduced milk production as a result of infrequent breastfeeding, often done as a method of countering cracked nipples. Other risk factors associated with low production of breast milk include malnutrition, depression as well as a weakened immune system.
Considering that breast milk is recommended as the sole source of nutrition for babies six months and below, it is vital for moms to take steps that will increase its production in the body. Depending on the cause of low breast milk production, there are different ways of intervention. One’s doctor may recommend medication, particularly in instances where the reduced production is as a result of medical and mental health conditions. In mild cases, there are some simple home remedies that one can use for increasing breast milk production.
1. Use a Warm Compress to Massage:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Some olive oil, a clean towel and a bowl containing warm water.
One of the easiest ways to increase milk production is to massage the breasts prior to feeding sessions. This is because, in some cases, poor circulation of blood to the breasts leads to poor milk production. By using a warm compress, the warmth of the towel improves circulation and stimulates milk production. The advantage of using a warm compress is that it also encourages milk let-down which improves the flow of milk during feeding. Follow the simple directions below to get the most of this easy technique.
- Apply some olive oil to the breasts as gently as you can to ease the process of massage and prevent frictional pain.
- Soak the clean towel in the warm water and proceed to squeeze the excess water.
- Place the warm cloth on the breast and use it to encircle the area around the nipples and spreading outwards to the chest.
- Do this for about 10 minutes after which you will lean forward and feed the baby.
- Leaning forward helps with milk let-down, and certainly improves breastfeeding.
2. Fenugreek Seeds:
Time Required: 10 Min preparation and overnight soaking.
What You Need: 1 Tablespoon of fenugreek seeds, 1 cup of warm water, a pan and a strainer. Fenugreek capsules (optional).
Fenugreek seeds, also known as methi, are the ‘holy grail’ of increasing milk production, thanks to their high concentration of a group of compounds known as phytoestrogens. Just as the name suggests, phytoestrogens have a great impact on the body’s hormonal system, and this is known to stimulate the activity of the milk-producing glands. This remedy is both effective and easy to prepare, making it a preferred inclusion in a new mom’s diet. Other benefits of using the seeds include their high concentration of healthy vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, iron and calcium
NOTE: however, that moms suffering from diabetes and asthma are prohibited from using this remedy without medical consultation. This is done to avoid drug-drug interactions.
- Soak the fenugreek seeds in a cup of water and leave them overnight.
- The next morning, transfer the soaked seeds to a pan and bring the mixture to boil for a few minutes.
- Pass the mixture through a strainer to get rid of the used seeds and drink the solution.
- Take this fenugreek tea daily until you notice some progress as far as milk production is concerned. Fenugreek seeds may also be added to foods such as vegetables, meat stews and soups.
- The other alternative is to use fenugreek capsules – and to consult your doctor in the event that you have any concerns or are using medication. Since these capsules are taken as a supplement, it is recommended that they are taken thrice for the first 10 days, twice for the next ten days and once for another 10 days to cover a whole month. This is important because it provides ample time to gauge whether there is an increase in breast milk production.
3. Fennel Seeds:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 Tablespoon of fennel seeds, 1 cup of hot water and a strainer.
Fennel seeds, just like fenugreek seeds, are a herbal remedy that has long been used for increasing breast milk production. The seeds are known to act as a galactogogue, which by definition is a substance that aids breast milk production in the body. Sometimes referred to as saunf, the seeds also have the benefit of preventing gas and managing colic in infants. These benefits make fennel seeds a perfect accompaniment for new moms.
- Place 1 tablespoon of the fennel seeds in a glass and add hot water.
- Let the seeds steep for about 20 minutes.
- Strain the mixture to get rid of the seeds and remain with the tea.
- Take this fennel tea at least twice daily for a month or so.
- Remember to include fennel seeds in your meal preparation as well for added benefits.
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 3 Cloves of fresh garlic, a grater, 1 cup of water in a park, 1 cup of milk, 1/2 tablespoon of honey as well as a strainer
Garlic cloves are a popular herbal remedy thanks to their many healing benefits. When it comes to increasing breast milk production, garlic’s active ingredients behave as a galactogogue. This means that their consumption stimulates the milk producing glands to increase the amount of milk produced. Research indicates that lactating mothers who ate garlic were more likely to breastfeed for a longer period of time without milk levels dipping. Follow the simple steps below to prepare garlic milk in order to improve milk production.
NOTE: Increased garlic intake may alter the flavour of breast milk, and babies react differently to this. As such, it is important to consider your baby’s reaction to your altered diet. If baby’s feeding patterns change, you may want to discontinue the use of garlic and instead opt for any of the other remedies in this list.
- Peel the garlic cloves and clean well before grating so that you have a mass of finely grated garlic.
- Transfer the grated garlic to a pan and add a cup of water.
- Bring the mixture to boil until you have just about a quarter of the original amount remaining.
- This allows the garlic’s active ingredients to steep into the water.
- Add a cup of milk to the remaining water and garlic and boil once more.
- Once the mixture has reached boiling point, add the honey and stir.
- Pass the mixture through a strainer and drink the tea at least thrice daily for as long as you are breastfeeding.
5. Dill Seeds:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 Tablespoon of crushed dill seeds (this is for every cup of dill tea to be prepared), a cup of hot boiling water and a strainer. Chamomile (optional).
Dill tea is one of the most popular remedies for increased breast milk production. Its effects make it one of the most widely known nursing teas. Dill seeds used to prepare the tea not only improve milk production, they also aid in proper digestion and help prevent bloating. The seeds also aid in stress management and help improve sleep, which is incredibly important for new moms for whom erratic sleeping patterns are an everyday occurrence.
NOTE: Dill seeds have a mild diuretic effect and as such, should be used in moderation to prevent dehydration. Consequently, dill seeds should be used with caution in mothers with kidney conditions.
- Start by heating the water in a pan.
- Once the water has boiled, add the crushed dill seeds and cover.
- Allow the seeds to steep for 10 minutes. This will result in a distinct yellow-coloured tea that is characteristic of dill seeds.
- Strain the tea to get rid of the seeds and drink.
- Use this remedy twice daily until you notice an increase in the amount of breast milk produced.
6. Stay Hydrated:
Time Required: Spread throughout the day
What You Need: Adequate drinking water
One of the most important things for nursing mothers to remember is that staying hydrated is key to increased milk production. The body strains to produce milk when dehydrated, so make sure you take enough water during the day. The precise number of glasses of water varies from one mother to the other as there are various variables that come into play.
A general guide when it comes to this is to ensure that you do not stay long enough for you to feel thirsty. The colour of your urine is also a great pointer as to whether you have had enough water or not. Generally speaking, an intense yellow colour is indicative of dehydration and the reverse is true.
- Keep a glass of water at hand to sip on throughout the day, particularly just before breastfeeding.
7. Holy Basil:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 Cup of water, a handful of fresh basil leaves, a strainer and 1 tablespoon of honey.
Holy basil (also known as tulsi) has long been used to assist lactating mothers increase breast milk production. The herb’s active ingredients are known to stimulate milk production while relieving stress in new mothers. The leaves are also an excellent source of iron, carotene and Vitamin B that help keep mother and child healthy. Other benefits of using holy basil include improved bowel movements, improved appetite and overall a calming effect.
- Wash the leaves well before chopping into fine pieces.
- Add the leaves to the pan containing water and let the mixture boil.
- Once boiled, reduce the heat to allow simmering for another 5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and strain the mixture.
- Stir in some honey for natural sweetening and proceed to drink the holy basil tea.
8. Sesame Seeds:
Time Required: Varies depending on the foods to which it is added.
What You Need: Sesame seeds.
Sesame seeds are rich in calcium which is one of the most important nutrients required for improved breast milk production. What’s more, it enhances baby’s development, and is one of the reasons why it is recommended for lactating mothers.
- Sesame seeds are simple to use as they can be added directly to foods, smoothies and salads.
9. Practical Measures Recommended for Increasing Breast Milk Production:
- Make sure you are latching properly as this greatly impacts milk production. Make use of breastfeeding accessories if you must.
- Ensure you are breastfeeding frequently. The simple reason for this is that the more you breastfeed, the more milk is produced in the mammary glands.
- One of the simplest ways to improve milk production is to ensure that you drain one breast before feeding on the other. The explanation behind this is that when the first breast is completely drained, milk production begins while the second one still has some milk stored. You can benefit from this practical technique by expressing milk more frequently.
- Maintain a healthy balanced diet to ensure a steady supply of nutrients for the production of milk in the breasts. Include green leafy vegetables in your daily diet. Carrots are of notable importance, as are beetroots, but the latter may alter the taste and flavour of breast milk.
- Lastly, avoid stress as much as you can. Stress limits breast milk production in the body. Try and relax in order to improve the quality of milk produced.
Breast milk has immense benefits for the child. Using the aforementioned remedies is recommended for increasing breast milk production. Consult your doctor in case of any doubts or if you think you are experiencing low milk production as a result of an infection.