Breast milk will be the main nutrient source for young babies. In order to have sufficient supply of breast milk, stimulation during pregnancy and after giving birth is necessary. Milk supply will not depend on the size of your breasts, so every woman has the same chance of giving exclusive breast-feeding to her infant.
What Influences Milk Production and How to Stimulate it before Birth
During pregnancy, your body will produce the hormone called prolactin which has the role of producing breast milk. After delivery, your body will continue producing this hormone, and another hormone called oxytocin which has role to let the milk come in to your nipples whenever your baby sucks. Your body starts to produce breast milk on 8-week pregnancy. Breast milk stimulation is best done after delivery, although some below methods might be useful to induce breast milk production during pregnancy.
- Keep hydrated. Water is core element needed by humans, especially pregnant women. Drinking sufficient water and putting caffeine down can stimulate your body in producing sufficient amount of prolactin that is needed for milk production.
- Keep your diets healthy. During pregnancy, you are always told to consume only healthy diet. This is very good to your baby and will let your body produce every substance needed for preparing birth and feeding. Be sure to consume greens, low-cholesterol foods, and fruits. Spinach, broccoli, bitter melon, asparagus, carrot, almond, oatmeal, avocado, orange, and papaya are several foods you might want to put into your daily menu because all of them are high in folic acid that your body needs to prepare milk production and keep baby nourished.
- Give up smoking. Smoke is harmful for both your baby and your body. It contains various substances that can cause cells to misbehave. During pregnancy, you need to avoid smoke in order to make sure your prolactin growth is not decreasing as a result of smoke intake.
How to Stimulate Milk Postpartum
Although your body has started producing milk during pregnancy, it might be possible that in a few days after delivery the breast milk won’t come in. Since only few women are naturally unable to breastfeed, you will have to stimulate your breasts to let the breast milk come in. Breast milk stimulation after delivery is much easier than the one during pregnancy. You can consider doing one or two things below.
- Keep yourself relaxed. Baby delivery might be stressful and exhausting, and thus affects milk production process. You will need to be relaxed in order to let your body release oxytocin hormone that is needed to let breast milk produced inside the breasts come in.
- Do early contact with your baby. Midwives always suggest new mothers to put their naked newborn on top of their chest. This means to trigger the baby to find mother’s nipples by instinct. When baby tries to suck the nipples, mother’s body is told to start releasing oxytocin, knowing that milk is required by your baby.
- Feed your baby often and regularly. This will stimulate your body to keep producing breast milk. Young baby can be fed every one or two hours to avoid her from getting starved and drink too fast that will lead into spit up.
- Between intervals when you are not breast feeding your baby, you can empty your breasts by pumping. Similar to breast-feeding, pumping also gives message to your brain to keep releasing prolactin and producing more milk.
- Keep your breasts warm. Wet either a wash lap or face towel with warm water and put it on your breasts. They will get your breasts to relax and thus, promote increasing production of oxytocin to let the breast milk come in.
- Stimulate your nipples. You can rub your nipples in order to give stimulation similar to baby suck. Make sure you do it gently and slow because your nipples are extremely sensitive on this period. This movement will stimulate prolactin to work and produce more milk. You can do this even with inverted nipples.
Right after birth, your baby can only be fed colostrums produced by your breasts, so that you have few times to prepare for your milk supply.