If you are pregnant or just had your baby, congratulations! Breastfeeding is an exciting bonding experience between you and your new-born that boasts many benefits for both mother and baby. Breastmilk is referred to as “liquid gold” as breastmilk is the perfect, all-in-one nutrient that contains the perfect amount of fluid, carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals to nourish your little one. Breastmilk also contains a secret weapon, antibodies. These antibodies help develop their immune system, helping them stay healthy and fight off any harmful bugs that they might encounter.
Although breastfeeding is the preferred feeding choice for infants and young children, breastfeeding does not come without its own difficulties. Many mothers are excited to breastfeed but become discouraged and overwhelmed with how demanding the task might seem. During the first few weeks of breastfeeding, you might feel that you do not know whether your baby is receiving enough milk, how much they are actually drinking, and how often they should be feeding.
While preparing for the birth of your baby, you may be reading up a lot on breastfeeding. Although it is a good idea to collect as much information as possible, we must remember that each baby is different. Even if this is not your first pregnancy, and you got breastfeeding right the first time, the new baby might be completely different. Often, these standards and expectations that are set through the information we gather, might discourage us when our baby does not comply 100% to these expectations and we decide to give up. Today I would like to clarify for every mother that just because your baby is not feeding according to the “textbook” does not mean that you are doing anything wrong!
World Breastfeeding week is celebrated every year from 1-7 August. This year, we would like to use this opportunity to discuss breast milk production, and what you can do to boost yours.
HOW TO BOOST YOUR BREAST MILK PRODUCTION
Most mothers (65%) go through a stage while breastfeeding where they feel that they are not producing enough milk to nourish their babies1. Milk supply concerns are the most common reason for mix feeding or early weaning2. Although these fears are often unfounded, we have provided a few tips to help you increase your breastmilk production.
Easier said than done! Constant anxiety can reduce breast milk production3. Rest assured that if your baby is gaining weight according to the growth chart in the Road to Health Booklet, your baby is receiving enough breastmilk. So, take a deep breath, take a long bath or go for a massage. Relaxing will improve your breast milk supply.
Visit a lactation consultant
Getting accurate, trustworthy advice from a certified lactation consultant before and/or after the birth can greatly improve your confidence, which is key for successful breastfeeding4. A consultant can ensure that the baby is latching and sucking correctly which is crucial. With your newfound confidence and improved technique, breastfeeding will become more pleasurable and a great bonding experience. In a Canadian study, mothers who were less confident in breastfeeding had increased perceived insufficient milk supply, although they were producing sufficient amounts of breastmilk5. These mothers were more likely to give up on breastfeeding sooner. It is definitely worth your while to book a consultation with a lactation consultant.
Breastfeed on demand
Many sources suggest a strict feeding schedule where feeding every 3-4 hours is recommended. Although this is a good guideline for older infants it should rather be a guideline to ensure your baby does not feed less often than that. Instead of sticking to a strict feeding schedule, you should offer the breast on demand6. Especially during the first few days, when the baby’s stomach capacity is as small as 20ml, the baby might want to drink much more frequently, even hourly7. The more the baby suckles at the breast, the more oxytocin and prolactin is secreted by your body. These hormones are responsible for breast milk supply and delivery8. So do not feel discouraged when your baby drinks very often, this is all part of the process to get your breastmilk supply going.
To breastfeed exclusively means to give nothing other than breastmilk to your baby. That means not even water or any other fluids or solids (except medication prescribed by your doctor) is given. After all, your breastmilk is sufficient, and your baby needs nothing more. When breastfeeding exclusively, the baby relies on breastmilk as his/ her only source of fluid and nutrition and the baby will feed more often from the breast. This in turn will improve your breastmilk production.
Eat a balanced diet
Breastfeeding increases your nutrient requirements, and many nutrients might already be depleted after the pregnancy and birth9. It is therefore important that you consume a balanced diet during the breastfeeding period.
Do not restrict your calories
Although you want to get rid of the baby weight as soon as possible, restricting your energy (calorie or kilojoule) intake is not advised. In fact, you should consume slightly more energy during this time to maintain breastmilk production10. Make sure that this additional energy comes from nutrient dense foods that have a high vitamin and mineral content to support the growth and development of the baby. Including plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as dairy products is recommended.
Eat enough protein
Your protein requirements increase when breastfeeding by approximately 21g per day during the first 6 months and 14g per day thereafter10. Include foods that are high in protein with every meal and snack. Not only will this improve your breastmilk supply, but it will also keep you fuller for longer helping you not to snack on unhealthy foods. Include foods like nuts, soy, lentils, eggs, meat, fish, pork, chicken, milk and other dairy products.
Dehydration can lead to impaired breast milk supply. Having adequate amounts of fluids will prevent you from getting dehydrated. Try to include 8 – 10 glasses of fluids a day. Have fresh, clean water, milk and caffeine free drinks throughout the day to ensure sufficient breast milk supply.
WHERE DOES FUTURELIFE® FIT IN?
The FUTURELIFE® Smart food™ and FUTURELIFE® Smart Bar™ range is a perfect option for a complete meal or snack when breastfeeding.
With limited time available to spend on preparing healthy balanced meals with a new-born in the house, the FUTURELIFE® range is a perfect solution! FUTURELIFE® Smart food™ is high in protein, low GI, high in 23 vitamins and minerals and best of all, FUTURELIFE® Smart food™ is instant. FUTURELIFE® Smart food™ can be prepared as a porridge or a drink by simple adding milk or water.
The FUTURELIFE® Smart Bar™ range, including the FUTURELIFE® High Protein and FUTURELIFE® High Protein Lite Bars are great snacks to curb the mid-feed hunger. These bars are high in protein, low GI. The best part is you only need one hand to eat them!
The FUTURELIFE® Smart food™ range is extremely versatile. The FUTURELIFE® website contains a variety of recipes to try with the FUTURELIFE® Smart food™ range. To access these delicious recipes visit www.futurelife.co.za
Breastfeeding is a special time for both mum and baby but can be daunting. Many mothers are stressed about their breast milk supply and whether they are producing enough breast milk to meet their baby’s requirements. Confidence in your own ability is one of the most important aspects to successful, exclusive breastfeeding. If you are worried about your breast milk supply, visit a lactation consultant, eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated and take some time to relax.
- Peacock-Chambers E, Dicks K, Sarathy L, Brown A and Boynton-Jarret R. 2017. Perceived maternal behavioural control, infant behaviour, and milk supple: a qualitative study. Journal of developmental & behavioural paediatrics; 39(6):401-408. Available at: doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000455
- Flaherman VJ, Beiler JS, Cabana MD and Paul IM. 2016. Relationship of newborn weight loss to milk supply concern and anxiety: the impact on breastfeeding duration. Maternal & child nutrition; 12: 463-472. Available at: doi: 10.1111/mcn.12171.
- Sari LP, Salimo H, Budihastuti UR. Optimizing the combination of qxytocin massage and hypnobreastfeeding for breast milk production among post-partum mothers. 2017. Journal of maternal and child health; 1(1): 20-19. Available at: https://doi.org/10.26911/thejmch.2017.02.01.03
- Galipeau R, Baillot A, Trottier A and Lemire L. 2018. Effectiveness of interventions on breastfeeding self-efficiency and perceived insufficient milk supply: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Maternal & child health; 14:e12607. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/mcn.12607
- Galipeau R, Dumas L and Lepage M. 2017. Perception of not having enough milk and actual milk production of first-time breastfeeding mothers: is there a difference? Breastfeeding Medicine; 12(4). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1089/bfm.2016.0183
- Mum & Baby Academy. Improving colostrum and breast milk supply. Available at: https://lansinoh.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Colostrum-feeding.pdf
- Berman, NJ. 2013. Neonatal stomach volume and physiology suggest feeding at 1-h intervals. Acta paediatrica; 102:773-777.
- org: Oxytocin and Prolactin. Available from: Osmosis.org.
- Segura SA, Ansotegui JA and Diaz-Gomez NM. 2016. The importance of maternal nutrition during breastfeeding: do breastfeeding mothers need nutritional supplements? Anales de pediatria; 84 (6)347.e1-e7. Available form: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anpede.2015.07.035
- Marangoni F, Cetin I, Verduci E, Canzone G, Giovannini M, Scollo P, Corsello G and Poli A. 2016. Maternal diet and nutrient requirements in pregnancy and breastfeeding. An Italian concensus document. Nutrients; 8: 629. Available at: doi:10.3390/nu8100629