While lactation cookies are a delicious and sometimes nutritious snack that can help to support your breastfeeding journey, it is important to not rely on them as the solution - because they definitely are not! I have heard them described as "your cheerleaders, but they're not going to run the marathon for you" which I think is a great way to describe their role. However, there are MANY things that you can do to help boost your milk supply or support breastfeeding if you are finding it challenging. Most importantly, always connect with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) if you have queries or concerns. Each journey is unique, and the remedies will be just as individual.
The most important things to keep in mind when establishing breastfeeding are:
- Feed as often as necessary - never try to stretch out feeds if you are concerned about your supply being low. Allow bub to cluster feed - this can be their way of working with your body to increase milk production.
- Ensure bub is properly latched and efficiently/fully draining the breast. Connect with a lactation consultant ASAP if you are concerned that this is not happening.
- Breastfeeding should not be painful. There may be some initial discomfort while baby is latching, but if this persists throughout the feed it is important to seek help as it can indicate other issues including improper latch, nipple thrush etc.
- As much skin to skin as possible - even with older babes. This helps to increase oxytocin and decrease stress hormones, which will in turn boost your milk supply.
- Ensure adequate hydration - this could be around 4-6L of water each day for some women, particularly in the warmer months! Herbal teas, smoothies and fresh juices can also be included in this, as well as soups and broths.
- Ensure adequate and nutrient dense meals and snacks. If you're struggling to prepare meals for yourself then ask some friends and family to organise a meal train, or order our premade, nourishing postpartum meals here.
- Increase consumption of galactagogue foods - oats, flaxseeds, chickpeas, almonds, dark leafy greens, ginger are known to support breastmilk quantiy and quality. Again, they are your cheerleaders and aren't going to be the one and only.
- Rest! Have an afternoon nap to help increase your supply through the evening if at all possible.
Breast engorgement/softness is not a good indicator of supply - once feeding is established, your breasts can feel soft AND have great supply - particularly with subsequent babies.
- The volume you are able to pump is not indicative of supply - baby is much more effective at draining the breast than a pump, so your supply will generally be greater when bub is feeding. However pumping between feeds can be helpful to increase supply as your body works on a feedback loop of supply and demand.
- Increased feeding will increase supply - don't hesitate to feed on demand, rather than trying to adhere to a schedule. Baby knows best!
Be mindful of:
How many wet and dirty nappies you have a day - if this reduces significantly then this could indicate a drop in supply.
- Changes in mood, behaviour or sleep (your baby can become MORE sleepy if your supply is low).
- Changes in weight gain.
If you ever feel concerned, please connect with a lactation consultant who will be able to guide your more specifically.
This article first appeared on Holism Health Co and is published here with their permission.
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