If there’s one all-round beneficial activity that post-partum mums can engage in, it would be breastfeeding. Breastfeeding helps mums to slough off those extra pounds gained during pregnancy, reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and promotes bonding between mother and child.

Breast milk is a highly nutritious food for babies as well, boosting their immune system, and promoting brain development. The benefits of an adequate supply of milk are obvious; however, many mums struggle at times with irregular milk production, and have to supplement their baby’s diet with formula. Fortunately, there are techniques that can help to boost milk production. Here we cover the most common causes of low milk production, and offer useful tips on how to circumvent this.

Insufficient Glandular Tissue

If you’ve just had your first baby, but the milk isn’t quite flowing yet, it could be due to insufficient glandular tissue (IGT). Some women with this pre-disposed condition do not have sufficient milk-ducts to support their baby’s diet. However, there’s good news; milk ducts do develop with subsequent pregnancies, and milk production often increase during the second, third and subsequent births.  Women with IGT can still breastfeed successfully through careful planning, and taking necessary steps such as pumping and taking prescription meds – you may also need to supplement your baby’s diet with formula. It’s always wise to consult your pediatrician or a breastfeeding expert on the best course of action to take.

Management of Breastfeeding Timings

Irregularity in nursing during the first few weeks of baby’s life can have a significant impact on milk production. The most common scenario faced by mothers is that the milk comes in but doesn’t get well drained. Even with a well-established supply, milk production can decrease later if a mother goes without feeding for long intervals of time (such as not pumping regularly during the work day).

To avoid this, mothers should breastfeed as early as the first day of birth, and continue for regular sessions to condition the body for regular milk production. Hold your baby skin to skin right after birth and your baby will likely breast-feed within the first hour after delivery. During the first few weeks, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed as often as possible, every 3-4 hours and should not skip breastfeeding sessions.

Nutrition and Diet

Your baby’s source of food is produced within your body, and hence your own nutrition and diet play a key role in milk-production. Mothers could consume lactogenic foods such as oats, dark green leafy vegetables, lactogenic beverages, and healthy proteins to increase their milk production. It is important to consume a sufficient number of calories in a well-balanced diet so that your body has the reserves necessary to produce milk and to maintain a healthy and energetic state. Excessive dieting to cut down on pregnancy fats could result in low supply of breast milk.

Now that you’re breastfeeding, it’s even more important that your calories should not dip below 1500 – 1800 per day, and most women are advised to aim for the higher end of this range. Professionals recommend that mothers avoid dieting until their babies are at least two months old, in order to establishing a proper milk supply.

Improper Latching

If your baby isn’t latched on properly, poor breast milk drainage can result, leading to lower milk production. A baby needs to be latched deeply onto the areola, and not just the nipple. If a baby cannot sustain attachment to the breast for more than a few sucks or if he is only on the nipple, it’ll affect your nursing efficiency. Improve on your baby’s latch on by understanding the signs of a good latch-on, and how to set up your babies to nurse properly.

Using Hormonal Birth Control

Hormonal birth control (pill, patch or injection) may affect the production of breast milk for some mothers. Combined hormonal birth control that contains both progestin and estrogen are not good for nursing mothers, particularly in the first six months, because they may cause you to produce less milk. You should consult doctors or lactation consultants about the consumption of hormonal birth control. Using birth control pills, injection, or patch containing progestin only may help you establish a regular milk supply.

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