Breast milk is designed by nature to be the best nutrition for infants but not all mothers find it easy to breastfeed. Some mothers may be faced with inadequate milk supply, breast conditions or difficulty to find time to pump milk upon returning to work. Here are 5 secrets and hacks to cope with these frustrating situations.
Hacks for Inadequate Milk Supply
#1 Drink enough water
Did you know that drinking more water helps with breast milk production? If you’re too busy to remind yourself to drink up, place water bottles around your home and in your office. This will help to remind yourself that you need to keep yourself hydrated. You can also drink water while nursing your little one!
#2 Eat well and enough
Having a well-balanced diet helps with ensuring that your breast milk is of good quality; make sure you’re getting enough calcium, folic acid, iron, protein and vitamin C. Some of the foods that contain these nutrients are fresh milk, fortified soya milk, dark green vegetables, whole grains, avocado, fortified cereals, cod fish, broccoli and fruits. Also be sure to eat enough, as breastfeeding mothers require additional calories per day (300 to 500 calories more). You can also try herbal supplement like fenugreek for milk production.
#3 Nurse regularly (or pump)
The milk supply is largely dependent on the demand for it; therefore, be sure to nurse the baby when there is a demand. To ensure that baby has a good balance of foremilk and hindmilk, it is highly encouraged to completely drain a breast before moving to the next. If the baby has fed enough during one session and have not moved to the next breast, pump the other breast. Through your breastfeeding journey, some parents may advise you not to let your baby suck for comfort. However, non-nutritive sucking is actually good for the baby. It provide comfort and security for the baby, helping them to feel safe. Not only will baby learns to associate the world as a safe place, they will grow up to be a secure and confident individual. So hurry and continue to nurse on!
#4 Breast compression
Just before and when the baby is nursing, you can also massage the breast gently to stimulate the breasts to produce more milk. Try to get baby to drink sufficient milk during feeding time because, a hungry baby will definitely wakes up more frequently through the night. Wake baby up gently if they fall asleep halfway through the feeding session!
#5 Lactation consultation and high quality breast pump
You may want to go ahead and book an appointment with a lactation consultant during your hospital stay, right after the delivery of your baby. It will be extremely helpful for new parents! If there is any issue or problem in regards to breastfeeding, nipple or the nursing position/ latch-on can be promptly detected and corrected. There might not be much flow during the initial period, but preserve on! The supply will slowly kick in. You can also get a high quality double breast pump or borrow a hospital-grade pump to help to get the milk supply going.
Hacks for Breast Conditions
#1 Cracked nipples
Cracked nipples can happen when the latch-on is not correct and too much of the sucking is on the nipple. Check the latch-on, in particular ensure that the areola is far enough in the baby’s mouth to help with the release of milk.
For engorged breast, try massaging the breast before and during breastfeeding. Also, continue to nurse frequently and on demand. When nursing, pay attention to the latch-on as sometimes it is harder to latch properly with an engorged breast. If the breast feels full but it is not time to nurse, consider pumping some of the milk out (but not all). For relief, you can also use ice, frozen peas on the engorged breast (with a fabric in between) or a cooled green cabbage. If you are using cooled green cabbage, keep it to a maximum of once a day usage.
#3 Clogged duct
A clogged duct refers to the duct from the milk-producing glands to the nipple being blocked with milk. This leads to a sensitive and reddened area of the breast, but there is no infection. Plugs typically clear up in less than a day, and warm moist compress can be used to treat a clogged duct and breastfeeding also helps to dislodge the plug.
This refers to inflammation that causes the breast to be swollen, tender, red, hot and hard. It can come from persistent clogged duct that gets inflamed and infected. This is accompanied by flu-like symptoms and requires a doctor consultation to treat the inflammation and infection.
Thrush is an infection with a yeast called candida albicans. It can happen when the baby has the infection in his mouth, and the mother’s nipples may appear pink, red, shiny or itchy. See a doctor to get a prescription to treat the thrush and take precautions to not pass it back and forth between mother and baby.
Hacks for Busy Moms
While many couples fear the loss of their couple time at night due to sleeping with the baby, it may be worth considering to co-sleep in the initial few months when nursing or get a baby cot that you can place right beside the bed. This will definitely help parents to get more rest, especially with the frequent nursing happening during the first few months. Co-sleeping is not for every family and also be mindful of the dangers involved (especially if baby has a health condition).
Related article: Is It Safe To Co-Sleep With Your Baby?
#2 Hands-free pump
There are nursing bras that are designed to allow breastfeeding mothers to be hands-free when pumping milk. There are also special nursing bras that allow mothers to nurse on one breast and pump on the other. Typically, there are various cross over cover panel designs for the bra with pumping openings. The fitting of the bra has to be the top priority in order to support the hands-free pumping.
Another innovation are breast pumps, for instance, Freemie. It directly collects the pumped milk into a cup, allowing the mother to pump hands-free and with clothes on. Gone are the days where we need to hold on to the pump and wait for the process to be done. With hands-free pumps, mothers are able to move on and complete her other tasks on hand.
#3 Storing Breastmilk
There are many ways to store breastmilk. For the extra milk that has been pumped, you can freeze them in storage bag or even in ice cube tray with lid. Storing breastmilk in smaller quantity allows the milk to be thawed quickly.
#4 Breastmilk popsicles
For babies who are teething, why not give a breastmilk pop? That way, your baby can get the nutrition from the breast milk while soothing his or her gums.
It may seem strange to suggest resting when a busy mom does not have enough time! However not resting enough is likely to create more problems relating to breast milk supply, lower immunity, possibly recurring mastitis and the ability to persist in breastfeeding efforts. Therefore, resting is really important and it definitely helps in your breastfeeding journey!
Related article: How Does Sleep Affect Quantity And Quality Of Breastmilk?
No matter what circumstances you’re facing, remember that you are not facing them alone. You have your spouse! Supportive spouse has been studied to be an important factor in breastfeeding success! Talk to friends and lactation consultants if you need the affirmation and help.
This article is part of Breastfeeding with Love campaign, initiated by The New Age Parents and New Age Pregnancy.
Join the Breastfeeding with Love Facebook Group to find out more and be part of our breastfeeding online community!
Click on the logos to find out more about our supporting partners.