5 Ways to Power Boost Your Breast Milk
It’s true: Breast milk is quite the superfood. What other form of nutrition automatically changes with baby’s needs and comes absolutely free? But even Mother Nature’s genius can be improved upon now and again. Read on for five ways to give your milk a boost, from maximizing your output to improving its nutrition and ability to keep baby healthy.
One of the most important contributors to baby’s brain development is DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found predominantly in our brain and eyes. This crucial building block for the growth of neural and vision cells is especially important during the first two years of baby’s life, when the brain is undergoing major changes. While DHA is naturally occurring in breast milk, moms can up the amount available to baby by consuming more in their daily diet. Fish, especially salmon, is the best source, but for the highest concentration of DHA, be sure to buy wild, not farm-raised. If you’re not a seafood fan, you can chat with your doctor about taking a supplement. Shoot for 200 to 300 milligrams per day.
Nutrition is incredibly important for both you and baby while breastfeeding. After all, what you eat directly affects the quality of your milk, not to mention the fact that your body is working overtime—burning an extra 500 calories a day—and needs extra energy and nutrients to keep up the good work. And while there are plenty of foods that can maximize a healthy diet, many of them can also pull double duty to increase lactation. Known as galactagogues, these foods have been used for centuries to get milk flowing. Oatmeal is the most common and the easiest to work into your daily diet. Along with flax seeds and brewer’s yeast (yes, the kind for making beer), oatmeal is often the main ingredient in lactation cookies, which you can either buy online or whip up at home. Other foods known to increase milk supply include almonds, barley, fennel and the herb fenugreek (a common ingredient in lactation teas).
Yes, your breast milk contains everything baby needs to grow and thrive, but new research suggests modern infants might be missing key gut bacteria needed to digest some of its nutrients. Ongoing research from the University of California shows that many babies lack B. infantis, good bacteria in the gut that helps digest breast milk and protects baby from potentially harmful bacteria that have been linked to colic, eczema, allergies and obesity down the road. Certain baby probiotics, which you can add to your expressed milk, may help create a protective environment in the digestive system and contribute to baby’s metabolism and immune system, building the foundation for good health that can last a lifetime.
Possibly the most foolproof way to increase your milk supply is to feed or pump as often as you can: every two to three hours for baby’s first few weeks, based on your child’s feeding cues. If you need more help boosting supply, consider power pumping. This practice of spending an hour a day pumping in short bursts (pump 20 minutes, then rest 10 minutes, pump 10, rest 10, etc.) can signal the body to produce more milk and help jump-start your supply if it starts to dwindle.
For the first six months of baby’s life, you are their sole source of hydration. Since infants younger than 6 months old shouldn’t drink water, you’ll need to be drinking plenty for both of you. This is especially crucial since your body needs water to keep producing milk. So what’s the magic number of ounces? The amount you need can really vary depending on weather, diet or exercise. You should naturally become more thirsty while nursing, so pay attention to your thirst (even when you’re busy with baby), and keep a glass ready and waiting near the spot where you breastfeed every day.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.