Nursing mothers, especially first-time mothers, often worry about whether their supply of breast milk is adequate. Most mothers produce enough breast milk for their child. However, at times some mothers are unable to produce adequate quantities.
Low breast milk supply can be due to certain illnesses, consumption of birth-control pills, certain hormonal changes in the body, nutritional deficiencies, improper latching position of the baby and infrequent breastfeeding due to cracked nipples.
Inadequate breast milk can put your baby at a high risk of malnutrition, a weak immune system, poor memory and many other health problems.
As breast milk is a very important nutritional source for newborn babies and infants, it is important to take steps to increase its supply. Your doctor can prescribe medications. But you may also be able to increase breast milk production yourself by practicing some easy and simple home remedies.
Here are the top 10 ways to increase breast milk production.
1. Warm Compress
In some cases, low blood circulation in the breasts is the main reason behind inadequate breast milk supply. If this is the reason, you can use a warm compress on your breast before feeding sessions to increase the blood supply.
- Massage your breasts gently for five minutes prior to nursing.
- Dip a clean cloth in warm water and wring out the excess water.
- Use the warm cloth to gently massage the area around the nipples, pressing the breast against the chest.
- After massaging for five to 10 minutes, lean forward and breast feed your baby.
You can also try this as a relaxation technique if you notice your breasts have become heavy, but you are not able to feed your baby. It can help facilitate the flow of milk.
Fenugreek is considered a good remedy for stimulating the milk-producing glands. Fenugreek contains phytoestrogens that help increase breast milk production. It is believed that it stimulates sweat gland activity; mammary glands are modified sweat glands.
- Soak one tablespoon of fenugreek seeds in one cup of water overnight. In the morning, boil this water along with the fenugreek seeds for several minutes. Strain the solution, and drink this tea every morning until you get positive results.
- You can opt instead to take three fenugreek capsules, three times a day for the first 10 days. Then take two capsules, three times daily for the next 10 days. Finally take one capsule, three times daily for another 10 days.
Note: Diabetic and asthmatic women must not use fenugreek remedies.
3. Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds also help increase breast milk production. This herb acts as a galactogogue, a substance that helps the body produce more breast milk. Plus, fennel seeds aid digestion and help prevent colic pain in small babies.
- Add one tablespoon of fennel seeds to one cup of hot water. Cover the cup, let it steep for 30 minutes, and then strain the solution. Drink the tea twice daily for a month.
- Alternatively, mix together one-half cup each of fennel seeds, cumin seeds and rock candy (misri) in a bowl. Grind the ingredients to make a fine powder. Have one teaspoon of it with one cup of milk three times a day for one or two weeks.
- Also try to include fennel seeds in your cooking.
4. Cumin Seeds
Cumin seeds are also believed to stimulate milk production. Plus, cumin seeds improve digestion and provide relief from constipation, acidity and bloating. They are also a source of iron that provides strength to new mothers after childbirth.
- Mix one teaspoon of cumin power with one teaspoon of sugar. Have this mixture with a glass of warm milk daily before going to bed for a few weeks.
- Alternatively, add two teaspoons of cumin seeds to one-half cup of water and boil it. Strain the solution and add one-half cup of milk and one teaspoon of honey. Mix well and drink once daily for several weeks.
According to Ayurveda, cinnamon will also help to increase secretion of breast milk. When nursing mothers eat cinnamon, it helps improve the flavor of breast milk that many babies seem to like. Plus, it helps delay the occurrence of menstruation after childbirth and prevents early conception.
- Mix a pinch of cinnamon powder and one-half teaspoon of honey.
- Have it along with a cup of warm milk.
- Repeat daily before going to bed for one or two months.
Being an excellent galactagogue, garlic stimulates lactation. It has been found that nursing mothers who eat garlic tend to feed for a longer time, and babies even like the flavor of the milk.
- Finely grate three garlic cloves.
- Boil the grated garlic in one cup of water until the quantity is reduced to about one quarter.
- Add a cup of milk to the mixture and bring it to a boil again.
- Remove from heat, mix in one-half teaspoon of honey and strain it.
- Drink it once daily, in the morning, during the breastfeeding period.
7. Holy Basil
In Ayurveda, holy basil has been used to help nursing mothers increase their milk supply. This herb can stimulate milk flow as well as help calm the nerves of new mothers. Being a good source of carotene, niacin, thiamine and iron, holy basil also helps keep the mother and baby healthy and free from many diseases.
- In a pan, combine one cup of water and six to eight finely chopped basil leaves.
- Allow the mixture to boil for one to two minutes.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and let it steep for about five minutes.
- Remove from heat and strain the mixture.
- Add a little honey for taste.
- Drink this twice daily for a few months after childbirth.
Drumstick, also known as sahjan, is a green vegetable with many essential nutrients that stimulate the mammary glands and also help to open up veins around the breast to improve circulation, resulting in increased breast milk.
- Extract the juice of fresh drumsticks and drink half a glass of this juice everyday for a month.
- Alternatively, boil a handful of drumstick leaves in one cup of water mixed with a pinch of salt for a few minutes. Drain the water and then smear the leaves with clarified butter (ghee). Eat this twice daily for one month to increase breast milk.
Oatmeal is a healthy addition to the diet for mothers who wish to increase their milk production. First of all, oatmeal is a good source of iron and iron deficiency is one of the main reasons behind less breast milk production. Secondly, oatmeal is a comfort food for many women. This means it can help new mothers relax and reduce stress.
Eating a bowl of oatmeal with milk for breakfast each morning is one of the simplest ways to increase breast milk supply.
10. Carrot and Beetroot
Both carrots and beetroot contain a good amount of beta-carotene, which is said to increase the supply of breast milk. Also, beta-carotene is beneficial for the overall growth of newborn babies. Plus, these vegetables are high in minerals and nutrients that a nursing mother needs.
- Put two carrots and two beetroots in a juicer to make fresh juice. Add salt or honey as per taste. Drink it twice daily for several weeks.
- Alternatively, you can make a healthy salad or soup of carrots and beetroots and eat them daily to increase the supply of breast milk.
- Keep the body hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
- Follow a nutritious diet and try to increase your daily calorie intake.
- Improve the latching position so that both you and baby are comfortable during feeding sessions.
- Frequently breastfeed your baby. The more you breastfeed, the more milk will be generated.
- Breastfeed your baby from one breast until it becomes empty, and then switch to the next one.
- Use a breast-pump to pump milk for about 15 minutes every two to three hours to increase breast milk supply.
- Do not smoke or drink during the breastfeeding period.
With these remedies and tips you can easily increase your production of breast milk. However, before considering any of these methods, it is essential to have a professional determine if your supply of breast milk is really inadequate. Your doctor can advise you in this regard.