It’s a common question we hear from new moms-to-be: can I increase my milk supply before my baby is born? You want to be as prepared as possible for your new little arrival by making sure your milk comes in, so it makes sense that you’d wonder if you can increase that supply before you give birth. The reality is, your body knows you are still carrying your baby and that your milk is not needed yet. There is nothing you can do before birth to increase your milk supply. The good news is you can do a few things once your baby comes to help your supply come in and maintain.
How to Increase Your Milk Supply When Your Baby is Born
Once your baby is born, it is important to latch her within the first hour. Now, every birth is different (I have 2 kids and their births were very different). It may not be possible to have your newborn skin-to-skin within the first hour. This does not mean that you have failed. As soon as you can, attach your baby to your breast. Nurses and lactation specialists will visit you during this time to help you and baby latch properly so you can get the hang of breastfeeding. You may have trouble, it is a learning experience for both you and baby. That is why the nurses and specialists are there, to help.
What comes in first is not milk, it is nutrient-rich colostrum. It contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and antibodies to fight disease. These are all things that are beneficial for your newborn. If you choose not to breastfeed, or it does not work out for you (it is not an easy thing), think about giving at least this to your baby. With my second child, my son, I attempted breastfeeding and had full intentions of doing it for a couple of months. I ended up changing my mind after many, many attempts and lots of help from the lactation specialist and nurse. What I was able to give my son was the colostrum for the few days I attempted.
Something important to remember is that it can take even a couple of weeks for your supply to really come in. The more you latch your baby or pump, the better. If he fusses, latch, if he is napping, keep him latched. Nurse, nurse, nurse, all the time. You may feel like you do nothing else but feed your baby, but this is the best way to increase your milk supply.
Keeping yourself hydrated will also help. You may start to feel engorged, (even if not) try laying some warm towels over your breasts to help stimulate your milk to drop. Also, watch your diet. You may be thinking ‘Ok, I have had this baby, now I want to lose the weight and get back in shape’ but if you are not taking in enough calories, your milk supply will suffer. This happened to a friend of mine. Her daughter was a few months old and she was exclusively breastfeeding (EBF) and she started to workout and watch her calorie intake. Her milk supply dropped. Once she started adding more healthy calories (from fruits and vegetables) back into her diet, her supply increased within a few days.
The important thing to remember if you’re trying to increase your milk supply is to just be patient. This is a new experience for you and your baby. Relax, and get as much information as you can from the lactation specialist before leaving the hospital. You can always call them once you are home as well. If you attempt and decide that it just isn’t for you, know that is ok too. That was something I struggled with when I had my daughter. I breastfed for 2 weeks and I was always feeding or pumping, feeding or pumping and I felt like I never got a break.
I also felt like I was not producing enough for her (I was unaware at the time that the more I latched her, the better and eventually my milk would come in). It was a hard decision to make, but one that in the end was better for everyone. It is a choice you have, and please know that it is ok to not breastfeed. Breastfeeding is a hot topic these days and many women feel shame and like they are already failing as mothers if they do not breastfeed. We are all women and we should be supporting each other regardless of how we choose to feed our children.
Did you struggle with breastfeeding and ultimately have success? What sort of things did you do to help increase your milk supply come in once your baby was born? Did you choose to bottle feed your newborn? Share your stories with us below!