It is a common phenomenon to meet many breastfeeding mothers with reduced quantities of feeding breast milk, or we meet mothers who also start weaning at earlier periods. This may either be intentional or unintentional. There are various ways to establish a milk supply after taking a long break at feeding your baby. These ways, usually include herbal therapy, prescription medications, nursing and pumping.
As a breastfeeding mother who seeks to reestablish breast milk it is imperative that you choose a therapy that you are comfortable with. Moreover, your plan should be realistic and achievable.
How to Get Back Breast Milk Supply
Your age, the time that has elapsed since you last breastfed and the physiology of your body will determine how quickly and easily you can start breastfeeding again. If your baby usually latches and sucks for a couple of minutes, then you can commence by feeding her every two hours daily. It is recommended that you sleep close to your baby during the night to breastfeed her often considering that night nursing has a strong influence on breast milk production.
Don’t forget that you would still need to supplement your baby’s feeding with formula till your milk supply is enough to provide for your baby’s needs. It is recommended that you offer her an ounce less formula than what you often do, so that the baby nurses often.
In the case where the baby no longer latches on, you can consider using a fully automatic electric pump that has a double pump kit.
It may look Herculean to retrain your child to breastfeed considering that she may have already become accustomed to feeding with bottles. Nevertheless, it may surprise you to know that babies are born with an unquenchable instinct to breastfeed. To retrain your child, consider giving your baby more skin-to-skin time. To do this, you can start by putting the baby’s tummy on your chest in a relaxed mood. Your baby will instinctively latch out with a little help. If this does not happen, watch out for progressive signs that she is on her way. These signs include, turning toward the nipple, licking the nipple, opening her mouth and taking the nipples briefly and holding the nipple in her hand but does not suck. You can speed up this process by squeezing your breast gently so as to squirt milk that would encourage her to swallow and suck. This process takes time, therefore, be patient and continue trying.
Sometimes a baby may not be willing and ready to go back to the breast. In this case, you as the nursing mother would have to stimulate the breast supply by utilizing a breast pump. Usually, a hospital grade, double automatic pump is the preferred pump for reestablishing breast milk supply.
3. Prescription Medication
There are certain prescription medications that raise prolactin levels. The increase in prolactin levels and stimulation of the breast causes an increase in milk supply.
Below is a brief description of two of the common prescription medications that are used to stimulate breast milk production.
Domperidone is a drug recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to be used by breastfeeding mothers. This drug has fewer side effects when compared to other such recommended medications. A dosage of 20mg four times a day is usually recommended.
- Reglan (metoclopramide)
Reglan taken 10mg three times daily as initial dosage is known to increase breast milk supply from 72% to 110%. Nevertheless, this increase is dependent on how many weeks of postpartum the mother is. Upon reaching stability of breast milk supply nursing mothers are advised to reduce the dosage by 10mg per week. Nursing mothers with a history of depression are warned against the use of Reglan.
4. Herbal Tea-Mother’s Milk Tea
This tea is a traditional combination of anise, fennel and caraway and has been used to increase breast milk production for centuries by European women. It helps in promoting healthy lactation in mothers. To enjoy the pleasant aromatic balance of sweet, spicy and slightly bitter taste of this tea, pour 8 oz. of freshly boiled water over 1 tea bag and cover for at least 10 minutes. It is recommended that the nursing mother takes 3-5 cups of this tea daily.
5. Fenugreek Capsules
These capsules can increase breast milk supply within 72hours of ingestion. The normal dosage is 3 capsules, thrice daily for the first 10 days, then during the next ten days the number drops from 3 capsules to 2 capsules and then drops again to one capsule the next day. Side effects include bodily fluid excretions that smell like maple syrup and profuse sweating. This drug is contraindicated for women who have diabetes or asthma. It is important that you consult a lactation consultant before you start using fenugreek capsules.
6. Avoid Artificial Nipples
Do not give the baby artificial nipples during this period of retraining. Anytime you want to feed the baby, breast milk should be your first choice. In case the milk supply is extremely low or the nursing frustrates the baby, you as the nursing mother can use a supplemental system. This usually works excellently by providing supplemental milk while the mother breastfeeds the baby at the same time.
7. Monitor the Baby’s Weight
Monitoring your baby’s weight will help you know when to cut the use of supplements, especially if you feel that you are producing enough breast milk. A baby that is less than 4 months should be checked to ensure that she is gaining at least an ounce per day before you decide to stop using supplements. To make sure you cut back effectively, you can start by reducing a couple of ounces of the supplement every day and checking the weight gained by the baby.
8. More Tips
As a nursing mother you should drink plenty of fluids, eat very well, rest often and get support from friends, family and loved ones.
Endeavor to eat healthy meals with healthy snacks and drink plenty of water. Rest at least for 2 weeks, think positively, do not allow yourself to be discouraged and when you need support make sure you get it from friends and loved ones.
Watch this video, to know the tips to increase milk supply.