Feeling stressed? Not getting enough sleep? Eating poorly? Any number of factors could affect your breast milk production. Here’s how to get your ducts flowing.
Once upon a time, there was a father-to-be attending a breastfeeding class. He asked the instructor, “Will my wife produce more milk if she drinks a lot of milk?” Ah, not quite. But there are easy ways to make sure you’re producing enough food for your baby.
Give milk to get milk
“The ideal way for a mom to establish, maintain and increase milk supply is directly nursing at the breast. Babies are generally the most efficient way of releasing the milk, based on the hormonal and physiological actions that take place when Baby is directly skin-to-skin on Mother’s breast,” says Gina Ciagne, certified lactation counselor and senior director of professional relations at Lansinoh Laboratories. “Moms can also pump — ideally with a double electric breast pump — to increase supply.”
Have a cookie… or three
No one needs an excuse to eat a cookie, but nursing moms can now chow down on healthy (and delicious) lactation cookies from Milkin’ Cookies to get things flowing. “The cookies contain lots of whole grains (oats and whole wheat flour) along with the nutritional yeast (high in B vitamins) and flaxseed,” says founder Cheri Wiggins, who began making the cookies with a fellow physician when they were both working stressful jobs and suffering with low milk supply. You can even feed these cookies to your kids and your husband — you just might not want to share!
Coddle your critters
Milk Buds by Corn Bag Critter Co. help increase milk flow and alleviate blocked milk ducts. “I nursed both of my children and used warm wash cloths to stimulate flow,” says Aimee Jones, owner. “However, I was drenched with water when it came time to nurse! There had to be a better way — and Milk Buds were born.”
Sippity sip sip
Instead of a cup of joe or orange pekoe, Mama’s More Milk Please Sippin' Tea from The Spoiled Mama is made with 100-percent organic ingredients to help stimulate and increase blood flow to mama's mammary glands. "Our tea was created like all of our products: out of a need,” says Tamara Johnson, founder. “During my first pregnancy, I was unable to find organic products that address stretch marks, milk production and sore/cracked nipples. With my healthcare background and close relationships with other nurses, lactation consultants and MDs, I was able to formulate natural and pregnancy-safe solutions like our tea."
Getting specific with foods and herbs
“Common herbs used to effectively increase milk supply include alfalfa, fenugreek and milk thistle,” says Ciagne. These can be taken in capsule, tincture/liquid or tea forms. In addition, “There are foods that have been eaten for centuries around the world that have been used for increasing milk supply,” she says. These include: fennel, carrots, beets, yams, dark green leafy vegetables, oatmeal, barley, chickpeas, lentils, garlic, ginger, nuts (ideally raw, and particularly almonds, cashews, and macadamias).