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How can I improve my milk supply?

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You made it through childbirth and now you’re in the process of feeding your newborn. While this is a very special time, it’s also completely natural to worry about your milk supply and if your little one is getting enough nourishment. In a recent FB Live for TMB TV, we spoke to Tylah McConnell, a midwife based in Northern Territory, about simple and stress-free ways to improve your milk supply.

Supply and demand

According to Tylah, the most effective way to naturally increase your milk supply is to keep feeding. “The best thing for supply is supply and demand,” she says. “The more you express or breastfeed, the more you’re going to produce, that’s just a natural cycle.” To further help increase demand, the Australian Breastfeeding Association recommends feeding more often and making sure your baby is well positioned at the breast. It can also be helpful to let your baby determine the length of the feed.

Medications

There are medications available that have been proven to help with increasing milk production. “There is something called Domperidone or Motilium, which you can get prescribed from your GP,” says Tylah. “And this has been shown to increase your supply.”

Natural alternatives

Sometimes it can be a matter of finding what works for you. Some breastfeeding mums rely on alternative techniques, and while these may not be be evidence-based like supply and demand or prescribed medications, they still prove effective. According to Tylah, many women swear by things like Fenugreek or lactation cookies to help increase milk supply. “A lot of the indigenous women up here love Milo, they know that milo and milk, that malt, will help bring in their milk,” she says. “So it’s really about trying different things.”

Skin-to-skin contact

Keeping your baby close to you can help increase your milk supply. Try holding your baby, skin to skin while you breastfeed. And dress your baby in just a nappy to create more skin-on-skin contact. This helps to keep baby awake and increases the release of hormones involved in breast milk production.

Extra expressing

Try expressing after breastfeeds to increase the demand and improve supply. This further increases stimulation to your breast and makes sure that the breasts are completely drained. You can also start expressing antenatally to help get you on the right track. “Antenatal expressing the best way to get up your confidence that you will have enough milk,” says Tylah.

Is my baby getting enough milk?

By approximately two weeks of age, your baby should be back to their birth weight. They should be then gaining an average of 150 grams or more per week for the first three months. One way to see how your supply is going is to check that your baby is getting enough milk. Here are some signs to help determine if your baby is feeding well and getting plenty of food:

  • They have at least 6 to 8 wet cloth nappies or 5 to 7 disposable nappies in 24 hours with clear or pale yellow coloured wee
  • They poo 3-4 times a day if younger than 6-8 weeks old (yellowish in colour)
  • They have good skin colour and muscle tone (your baby’s skin springs back into place when gently pinched)
  • They are mostly happy and settled after, and in between, feeding.
  • They are gaining weight, as well as growing in length and head circumference

Ask for help

If you are at all worried about your milk supply or have any further questions, then make an appointment to chat with your midwife, child and family health nurse, lactation consultant or GP.

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