August 6, 2021 5:19:04 pm
By Palak Dengla
Breastfeeding is the most gratifying feeling ever. Scientific Research says 90 percent of moms have the ability to make enough milk for their baby. Woefully, according to WHO, only 41 percent of the infants are exclusively breastfed till the first six months of their life. Quite often, mothers complain of a reduction in the supply of milk after six months, once they resume work or when the child is started on complementary feeding. However, we tend to forget the concept of demand and supply. Milk production is directly proportional to the urge created by the child. Keeping this in mind, the following are some easy tips to help improve your breast milk production.
Watch your latch
Proper latch technique is critical to have a happy lactation journey, otherwise you are prone to cracked and painful nipples, soreness and breast engorgement which leads to a hampered supply.
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Keep yourself hydrated
Breast milk is 87 percent water, hence the minimum water intake throughout the day should be of two to three litres for a lactating mother. Essentially, sip water prior to, during and post-feeds/pumps, to increase the production.
Give both breasts their due
Another hack is to breastfeed equally from both sides to improve lactation. When you first start feeding your baby, wait until he or she unlatches naturally before moving on to the other side. For an optimum weight gain of a child, he should be fed ideally for 15- 20 minutes on each side, because the ‘foremilk’ which comes in the initial seven to 10 minutes has higher water content and is rich in proteins and other nutrients whereas the latter called ‘hindmilk’ is creamier and richer in fats. A seven-month-old baby would also get 93 percent of his calories from breast milk only. This also increases the quantity of milk produced due to long time suckling.
Nocturnal feeding and cuddling
When you breastfeed, the nerves in your breasts alert your brain to release ‘prolactin’, the hormone behind breast milk production. Prolactin is released in the highest quantity during the night, thus nocturnal feeding is crucial. Try to create a routine where your child is breast-fed during the night and avoid using the bottle. ‘Oxytocin’ is another important hormone involved in breast milk production. It is also known as the love hormone, and is released during moments of intimacy. It encourages the release of more breast milk. Hence, cuddle your child a lot, massage the child, play games often, basically do more activities that build an emotional bond between you and your baby. Prescribing lots of cuddles for a mommy wanting to produce more breast milk never fails!
According to WHO guidelines, complementary feeding should be practiced till the age of two years. Do not discontinue breastfeeding once you start with solids at the age of six months as even at the age of 11 – 16 months, 50 percent of her calorie intake would be from milk. Continue with a minimum of five to seven feeds spread across the entire day along with complementary feeding. Complementary feeding is advised to not compromise the increased nutritional demands of a growing child, as the iron, calcium and other minerals in mother’s milk would not suffice the increasing demand of the child’s body.
Clogged milk ducts?
Sometimes the issue is just clogged milk ducts. A breast massage is a terrific remedy in these situations. While this will not boost breast milk production, it will aid in the loosening of hardened regions and lumps, as well as the opening of blocked ducts. Mastitis is also less likely to occur because of this. Use soft gentle strokes towards the areola to massage your breasts.
Certain Galactagogues like fenugreek seeds, garlic, carom seeds, dil leaves, moringa, protein rich diet, cumin seeds, oatmeal, brewer’s yeast also boost the milk supply. Include these in your diet to improve your breast milk supply, however, do not overdo it. Speak with your doctor to understand the different ways in which you can add it to your diet.
Lastly, to increase the production of milk, mothers can also practice Power Pumping. This is basically a technique where mothers pump milk from their breasts for a particular period of time during the day to create a sensation of increased demand for milk, thereby improving the natural breast milk production.
(The writer is Chief Physiotherapist and Lactation Consultant, Aster RV Hospital.)
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