Q: I’m nursing my baby but am struggling with a low milk supply. Are there any natural ways to boost my production?
A: Making every effort to breastfeed your baby is well worthwhile, because breast milk is the best food you can give him during at least the first year of life. It meets all his nutritional needs, provides antibodies that help defend against infection and protects against allergies, asthma and obesity as he gets older. Breastfeeding can also help a mother shed pregnancy weight more rapidly and protects against breast or ovarian cancer later in life.
But like you, some women do have problems with their milk supply. The most common causes are inadequate food and fluid intake, fatigue, high stress levels and feeding the baby too infrequently or for only short periods of time. Here are some ways to counter these obstacles:
1. Eat a healthy anti-inflammatory diet (go to drweil.com for “anti-inflammatory diet”). Aim for about 2,500 calories per day.
2. Drink plenty of water. Your body can’t make milk if you’re dehydrated.
3. Get as much restorative nightly sleep as you can and nap during the day when the baby is sleeping.
4. Regularly practice healthy stress-reduction techniques such as breath work.
5. Ask family and friends for help with household duties.
6. Breastfeed often, because the more often and the longer your baby latches on to suck, the more milk you’ll produce. A lactation consultant can teach you the best techniques and positions.
Some natural health practitioners recommend herbal remedies such as fenugreek and wild asparagus to augment milk production. While there is a rich history of use for these agents, there have been only a few human studies on their safety and effectiveness. Want a traditional remedy that’s good for you? Try a bowl of oatmeal each day.
Is my baby getting enough milk? Look for these four signs to tell if baby is full.