Latching | Breast Compression | Breastfeed Frequently | Milk Ejection Stimulation | Pumping | Skin-to-Skin
Breastfeed More Frequently
After a good latch and maximum breast drainage, breastfeeding more frequently is the next strategy to increase milk production. How often has your baby been nursing in the last 24 hours? Especially in the first few weeks, babies should not be allowed to go any longer than two to three hours between daytime feedings or longer than one 4 to 5 hour stretch at night. It is normal for a newborn to nurse at least 8 to 12 times in 24 hours.
Infrequent feeding is a common cause of low milk production and the easiest to reverse. When milk production is low, more frequent feedings are especially important both for getting more milk into the baby and for telling the breast to make more milk. If we do not change anything, the breast cannot change what it is doing, either.
Would your baby nurse more often if you offered? Try offering at times you normally might not. Even if baby refuses one time, try again. It will also help to allow your baby to nurse for comfort between feedings when he wishes to give him every bit of milk possible, which in turn will make that much more milk. Adults tend to think in terms of babies having “feedings” as full meals, but babies tend to feed in terms of snacks that add up to full feedings. A technique you can use to encourage more frequent feedings is to keep your baby skin-to-skin against your body.
Take a Nursing Vacation
When your milk production is only slightly low and not related to something happening in the mother's body, taking a “nursing vacation” (not a vacation from nursing!) can be just the ticket for turning things around. Spend the weekend or any two days in bed with your baby, doing nothing but cuddling and nursing. Marilyn Grams, MD, calls this a “babymoon,” building on the honeymoon concept. This “vacation” will not only help to encourage frequent nursing, but it will also result in enhanced bonding and a better-rested baby and mother. Uninterrupted time together can have a wonderfully positive effect on both of you. This may not be possible in every circumstance, but if it is at all feasible, it can really be helpful for milk production. We don’t mean you need to focus your mind on your baby all weekend. Take magazines, snacks, and beverages to bed with you, nap, knit, watch television. But from your baby’s–and your body’s–perspective, all that uninterrupted body contact and those quick responses to nursing cues usually mean more milk by the third day.
If you cannot take a whole two days off, at least try to rest and relax whenever you can, and don’t do anything you don’t have to do. Take frequent naps and pamper yourself at every opportunity. Your milk production will be able to respond most effectively when you are well rested and not stressed.