How Breastfeeding Moms Can Increase Their Milk Supply
The baby formula shortages from last year left parents who use formula struggling to find enough formula for their babies. Some babies are exclusively breastfed, and others are exclusively formula-fed, but often moms turn to both breastfeeding and formula feeding either simultaneously or at different times.
For moms who are breastfeeding, it’s important to know how to increase their milk supply, whether their baby is going through a growth spurt or if parents can’t find the formula they need in stock. Having access to a lactation consultant can make a world of difference in the overall length of time a baby is breastfed.
Lactation consultants can help moms try different techniques, get information on nutrition, and can be emotional support for moms as they make their breastfeeding journey.
Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their recommendations for breastfeeding to acknowledge the benefits of breastfeeding beyond one year.
In Montana, 84 percent of moms initiate breastfeeding according to CDC data from 2020, which is really good. But at six months, only 34 percent of Montana moms continued to breastfeed
For years clinical research has shown that breastfeeding is linked to decreased rates of lower respiratory tract infections, severe diarrhea, ear infections, and obesity. Breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome, as well as other protective effects.
The new recommendations re-state the recommendation for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life and add the benefits of breastfeeding beyond one year and include:
- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. There is no need to introduce infant formula or other sources of nutrition for most infants. Beyond 6 months, breastfeeding should be maintained along with nutritious complementary foods.
- There are continued benefits from breastfeeding beyond 1 year, and up to 2 years, especially in the mother. Long-term breastfeeding is associated with protections against diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancers of the breast and ovaries.
Tips to help moms build up milk supply
- Practice skin-to-skin contact. It helps stabilize the baby’s temperature, breathing, and heart rate. They cry less. It stimulates brain development. It improves milk production, and reduces postpartum complications and depression.
- Let baby determine the feeding schedule. Nurse baby when they’re hungry. Breast milk is digested quickly and easily so babies want to nurse often. Watch for feeding cues: rooting, sucking on their hand, crying when not wet or uncomfortable. Babies have growth spurts and may need to nurse more frequently at times.
- Breastfeeding works by supply and demand. The more baby nurses, the more milk mom’s body will produce. Low milk supply is rare. Sometimes babies will cluster feed and nurse again a short time later and then go a longer time before the next feeding. That helps build milk supply.
- Offer both breasts at each feeding. Nurse baby on both sides at each feeding. Be patient in the beginning. As babies grow, they get faster at nursing. If needed, pump or hand express after a feeding to draw out extra milk and signal the body to make more.
- Practice self-care. Nursing moms require more fluids and about 2,000 calories per day to maintain a good milk supply. Stay hydrated, eat enough, and sleep when the baby sleeps. Learn to manage stress.
For more information
St. James Healthcare offers a free Breastfeeding Education class for expecting parents. Along, with the ability to schedule a one-on-one session with Jessica Walsh, BSN, RNC, IBCLC. To schedule an appointment please call 406.723.2711.
Follow this link for more information about Breastfeeding from St. James Healthcare.
There is a national U.S. government program called Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) that helps pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women and their children who are at nutritional risk. There is a WIC Hotline that is staffed Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. They can answer breastfeeding questions over the phone. The phone number is 1-877-942-5437.
About St. James Healthcare and Intermountain Healthcare
St. James Healthcare has served the people of Southwestern Montana for more than 135 years and is the largest and only acute care health care facility in the region. St. James Healthcare is a 67-bed hospital located in Butte, Montana, with more than 450 caregivers, alongside 100 physicians and advanced care professionals, offering 24-hour care and dozens of progressive specialty services. St. James Healthcare is part of the Intermountain Healthcare system. Based in Utah with locations in seven states (Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming) and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit healthcare system comprised of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,800 employed physicians and advanced practice providers. To help people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. To learn more about St. James Healthcare, visit sjh-mt.org.