6 Natural remedies for improving lactationDr. Madhavi Latha
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Lactation Consultant & Childbirth Educator
Deepti had always looked forward to breastfeeding her baby. Everyone she spoke to had told her that this was best for her baby. But, unfortunately, when she started feeding her little one, she discovered that her body was not producing enough milk. Inadequate breastmilk can be the result of many different factors, such as nutritional deficiencies, a lack of sleep, hormonal changes, certain types of medication, dehydration, etc. For a young mother, this can be extremely depressing but the good news is that there are a number of natural remedies that can help improve lactation.
1. Breastfeed often
The act of breastfeeding stimulates the breasts into producing more milk. Shortly after your baby starts breastfeeding, the muscles in the breast contract and milk are moved through the ducts. This is known as the “let down” reflex. Thus, it is important to breastfeed your baby often and regularly. To encourage your breasts to produce more milk, you should breastfeed your baby 8 to 12 times a day.
2. Demand supply mechanism
It is very important to understand that breastfeeding is a supply-and-demand system. The more demand on the system through breastfeeding the baby, the more milk the body makes, which essentially means if you want more milk you must feed more number of times.
Breastfeed from both breasts
We tend to favour one breast over the other when breastfeeding. However, if you want to improve lactation, try and breastfeed equally from both sides. When you start feeding your baby wait until spontaneously unlatching before offering the other side. This not only increases the amount of milk produced but can also help increase the fat content of the milk. Make sure your baby gets all the foremilk and hindmilk from every breast.
3. Manually pump between feeds
Your baby may not want to feed as often and as regularly as you want her to. Hence, it is advisable to express breast milk manually between feeds. This helps encourage lactation in the same way as breastfeeding. You can also pump breastmilk after a feed if you feel your breasts have not been completely emptied. To make pumping breastmilk easier, warm your hands and breasts before expressing the milk.
4. Massage your breasts
Sometimes the problem may just be blocked milk ducts. In such cases, a breast massage is a great idea. While this will not increase breast milk production, it can help loosen hardened areas and lumps and open up blocked ducts. This also reduces the risk of conditions like mastitis. Massage your breasts with gentle strokes and warm hands.
5. Eat a well-balanced diet
Breastfeeding requires energy and lactating mothers may need as much as an extra 500 calories per day. Thus, it is important to have a nutritious, well-balanced diet. You should eat plenty of protein-rich foods such as eggs, yoghurt, oatmeal, etc. as well as fresh fruits and vegetables rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Your doctor may also advise a few supplements. Remember, do not take any supplements without consulting your doctor. Also, remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Keep a glass of water beside you while breastfeeding since it could make you a little more thirsty than usual.
6. Herbs and spices
There are a number of herbs and spices that can boost breastmilk production. For example, you can mince a few garlic cloves and add them to your food. You can also make tea with fennel seeds or basil. Fenugreek seeds are another well-known lactogenic food. Soak a tablespoon of these seeds in a cup of water overnight and boil it the next morning for 5 minutes. Strain and drink. Before going to bed, have a cup of lukewarm milk with a pinch of cinnamon powder mixed into ½ tsp of honey.
When you still can’t breastfeed
Despite all your best efforts, there’s still a chance you still won’t be able to breastfeed your baby to satisfaction. If you’re at this junction and see cow’s milk-based infant formula as the only way out, think again. A better alternative would be to give your baby donor milk. Donor milk is breastmilk that has been expressed by other lactating mothers. This milk contains all the necessary nutrients for your baby and is the next best thing for your baby after your own breastmilk. Donor milk undergoes pasteurization and quality checks to ensure you have the peace of mind when feeding your baby – a 100% human milk diet. This diet has been clinically proven to be the best for all newborns over any commercial cow’s milk-based infant formulas.