Mums have emailed me sooo many times asking about foods to eat to boost milk supply. And the first thing I always want to know is, what makes you think that your milk supply is low?
Many mothers worry that they have low milk supply when they actually don’t. If your baby is filling plenty of nappies, then she is drinking plenty of milk. If a child health nurse or paediatrician is worried about your baby’s weight gain, I highly recommend getting a second opinion, and your breastfeeding advice from a lactation consultant.
Some Newborn Mothers are surprised by how often a newborn baby feeds. It is normal to feed for up to 45 minutes whilst your baby is learning to suck, and every two hours while your baby’s stomach is still small. Some babies will space out to 3–4 hourly breastfeeds by the age of six months or later, but don’t worry if your baby still wants to feed every two hours.
To figure out if you actually have a problem with your milk supply (and in my experience most women don't!) check in with Dr Jay Gordon: http://drjaygordon.com/newborns/scales.html
So assuming that your milk supply is actually struggling, let's look at how to boost it! Food is always the number one way mums assume they can boost their supply and it's the most common question I get asked; what foods to eat to increase breast milk.
Most of the recipes in my recipe book, including garlic confit, ghee, porridge made with oats, lactation tea and lactation biscuits, may help to boost your milk supply.
But foods will only work for about 10 days, giving you a small grace period to work on the root of the problem.
In my experience the two biggest things that sabotage breastfeeding are:
- Routines - Feed as often as you can, never make your baby wait. It is the frequency and no the duration of feeding that increases your milk by supply and demand. So anytime your milk lets down, even if it's just a 2-3 minute feed, your body is getting the message to make more.
- Stress - Stress reduces oxytocin, and oxytocin is essential for breastfeeding as it is the hormone that governs your milk let down reflex.
Get some help with housework, shopping, cooking, childcare... And if something is stressful for you DON'T DO IT! That even includes things that are SUPPOSED to help with breastfeeding, like pumping milk, obsessing over your diet, measuring milk, weighing the baby, and keeping charts and records of feeds and wees. It is MUCH more important to be calm and happy, as without oxytocin (the peace and love and joy hormone) your milk will not let down.
It is always worth keeping in touch with a lactation consultant in case there are any physiological or medical barriers to breastfeeding (like thyroid disorder or tongue tie). But if what they tell you to do stresses you out, ask them if it is absolutely essential, what the alternatives are and why you should do it.