Every new mother wants to give her baby the best nutrition possible. Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby, so it's only natural to worry whether you have an adequate supply. Drinking plenty of fluids, eating a healthy diet and using good breastfeeding techniques is the best way to produce the right amount of milk for your baby.
Vitamins, Medications and Supplements
According to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine there is not a specific vitamin that increases breast milk supply. A couple of medications and the herb fenugreek may help, but studies are inconclusive and most are poorly done. Some cultures have traditions followed by new mothers such as staying warm, resting for the first month, drinking certain herbal teas or eating certain foods, but none have been scientifically proven. Your health care provider may recommend that you continue taking your prenatal vitamin as long as you breastfeed, but this ensures that you and your baby get adequate nutrients, not that you increase your milk. If you are concerned about your milk supply, talk to your health care provider or to a certified lactation consultant.
La Leche League encourages mothers to make sure your baby is latched on correctly and to breastfeed frequently and for as long as your baby will drink to increase your breast milk supply. Remember, babies have growth spurts at around two to three weeks, six weeks and three months, so they may have periods when they can't seem to get full and others when they aren't as hungry. Your body will adjust to your baby's needs.
Drinking plenty of fluid will also help maintain your milk supply. Hydration is key. Try drinking a glass of water every time you nurse your baby. Avoid too many sugary beverages, and limit caffeinated beverages to fewer than 3 cups a day.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet will help you maintain your breast milk supply. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that breastfeeding women consume 500 extra calories a day to make adequate amounts of milk for their babies. Choosing lean meats, colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy foods or calcium fortified milk substitute and small amounts of healthy fats such as olive, canola and corn oil will provide you with the necessary vitamins and minerals to make nutritious milk for your baby.
- Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine: ABM Clinical Protocol #9: Use of Galactogogues in Initiating or Augmenting the Rate of Maternal Milk Secretion -- First Revision January 2011
- La Leche League: How Can I Increase My Milk Supply?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Nutritional Needs While Breastfeeding
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Losing Weight While Breastfeeding