What to Eat to Increase Breastmilk Production
Breastmilk is the best source of vitamins and minerals for your baby. Breastfeeding helps build your baby’s immunity and it also provides many benefits for new moms. Unfortunately, breastfeeding isn’t as easy as it appears to be! For many women, especially for first time moms, they can find themselves having difficulty breastfeeding. This can be due to poor nipple-latching technique, diet, stress, lack of sleep and/or all of the above. Here are some tips to help first time moms increase their breastmilk production so you can start building your child’s immunity.
Your mammary glands are located under your arm pits and throughout your breasts. These glands produce milk so you can nurse your baby. When your baby is able to nurse your glands will “let down” allowing the milk and oxytocin to flow. The more your baby suckles or nurses the more your body will produce milk. Mid wives will tell you, that your body will produce as much milk as your infant needs. This enables you to build up your child’s immunity to help them fend off illnesses. But what happens when your milk production isn’t meeting your baby’s demand?
Having a new baby can be overwhelming! Prior to baby, you were probably a superwoman! You had your career in line, your household was spotless, hitting the gym and even had homemade meals prepared. For new moms, its important to just connect with your baby and let things go. Don’t worry about the heaps of dirty laundry piling up or getting back to your emails. All you should be focusing on is you. That you get enough sleep, limit your stress and eat a proper diet.
During breastfeeding you may notice that you’re constantly thirsty. That’s because your body is taking directly from you to give to your newborn. Your breastmilk is made up of 88% water. Staying hydrated is super important for milk production. Always have a bottle of water with you everywhere you go. Try to drink 8 ounces of water every time your baby is nursing. For a newborn, they can nurse up to 10 times a day. That means you need to stay hydrated to keep up with your baby’s demand.
Food to Help Increase Your Breastmilk Production
It is important that you eat when you’re hungry. Try to consume the right type of foods for you and your baby. When you’re breastfeeding, you burn more calories. At this point, you don’t need to worry about the excess baby weight. Breastfeeding will naturally help you shed the weight. Be cognizant that if your baby requires up to 10 feedings a day, you will also need to consume more calories to keep up with your lactation schedule.
Foods to Eat When Breastfeeding:
Oatmeal - is high in iron. An iron rich diet is essential for milk production. If your body knows that you’re at risk of becoming anemic, it will lower your milk supply to protect you. Eating high iron foods is a must! Essential Fatty Acids and Omega 3s - is known to boost lactation hormone. You’ll find good sources of these in fishes, nuts, hemp, flax, chia, olive oil and spinach. Foods Rich in Vitamin A - carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, kale and collards are excellent sources of Vitamin A.
Natural Herbs to Increase Breastmilk Production:
There are many effective herbs you can take to increase your milk supply (while being safe for baby). An effective way is through teas. Nursing teas will give you the hydration you need while the herbs such as fenugreek seed, red raspberry leaf, nettle and milk thistle will increase milk production.
Other herbs that can increase breast milk production:
Got’s Rue - from the Fenugreek family
How Stress & Lack of Sleep Affects Your Lactation
Let’s face it, as a new parent, you’re not going to get the same amount or even the quality of sleep you use to get before your baby was born.
Since your baby has no concept of night and day, it is important that you sleep whenever you can. Many people will suggest that you sleep when your baby sleeps. Even if you’re lying there awake, by just resting, it’ll give your body a chance to re-set itself.
A brief way to get some ZZZs is having one of your family members take care of your baby for a few hours while you sleep. To do that, make sure you pump/express your milk whenever you can. You can freeze your breastmilk and thaw when needed. Breastmilk in the fridge can last up to 5 days. During this time, of limited sleep and stress, you’ll find that you are susceptible to catching colds more easily. While your body is recovering from childbirth, considering taking immune boosting
foods. Elderberry is an immune-booster. The berry is packed with antioxidants and it’s known to shorten the lifespan of your colds. For as long as you are breastfeeding, it is important to continue to taking your prenatal vitamins too. Your system needs as much help as it can get! You can switch to a regular multi-vitamin once you stop nursing.
Breastmilk Helps Builds Your Baby’s Immunity
Unlike formula, breastmilk has antibodies in it called immuneoglobulins. Babies who are breastfed have lower chances of getting digestive and intestinal problems due to good gut bacteria being passed directly to your baby.
Breastfeeding can also help with babies who are colic. Breastmilk is make up of foremilk and hindmilk. The hinkmilk is the milk that comes at the end of the feeding which is fatty and higher in protein. Babies who fill up on foremilk only, will ingest more lactose which can irritate the intestinal tract.
When breastfeeding, avoid switching from one breast to the next. Have your baby empty the entire breast before switching them over. This way they will have the right balance of fore and hindmilk.
Vitamin D for Baby
Even though breastmilk is high in nutrients, unfortunately it does not supply enough Vitamin D to your baby. Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium and phosphorus. A lack of Vitamin D can leading to weakening of the bones.
For babies there are Vitamin D drops. To make sure your baby gets it into his/her system, add afew drops to the nipple before nursing. It is recommended that babies ingest 400 IU of vitamin D a Day.
As a first time parent, you might feel a lot of pressure to do everything right. The most important thing you can do for your baby is bond with them. As a mom, breastfeeding is one of the best ways. It not only benefits your newborn by giving him/her the antibodies they need to build up the immune system. It also helps new moms get over any post-pregnancy depression and assist with gradual weight loss.
Breastfeeding can be challenging, but don’t give up! If you find that it has to do with your baby latching your nipple properly, consult a Lactation consultant. Many hospitals have specialists onsite to help teach you the correct latching techniques to enable your milk to let-down.
If you find that your having problems with milk production, look at the foods and supplements you’re eating. Optimize what you’re taking into your system so that you and your baby can get the most benefit.