All through pregnancy, your body has prepared itself for the moment you begin breastfeeding. As soon as your baby is born, you are ready to begin! But the let-down reflex (when milk production is released) may take a while after birth to stabilize. To help stimulate your milk production at home, practice the following tips:
- Bring your baby close to your skin. Skin to skin contact helps release prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that aid in milk let-down.
- Apply a warm moist towel to your breast a few minutes before breastfeeding.
- Make sure your baby is well positioned and that the latch is adequate.
- Seek a nursing position that is comfortable for both of you.
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, allowing your stomach to expand and slowly collapse.
- Play soothing music.
- Try to breastfeed your baby every 2-3 hours (during the day) during the first months, instead of following a rigid schedule with long periods between meals. Breast milk production abides by the rules of supply and demand, the more you breastfeed the more milk you produce.
- If you can, avoid using formula to continuously produce milk.
- Consider extracting milk with a breast pump between meals, as long as you’re not too tired.
- Join a lactation support group. This groups provide support, help, and great tips that help make breastfeeding easier.
- Make sure to rest whenever you can, and eat well. Exhaustion and a low-calorie diet can interfere with your milk production.
- Drink lots of water and liquids to stay hydrated. Fluids aid in milk production.
- Avoid smoking, surrounding yourself with secondhand smoke, consuming alcohol, or drugs. These substances can affect milk production and they are also harmful for you and your little one.
- Finally, remember that the milk you produce will vary according to your baby’s needs and the number of times he feeds.
What if I cannot breastfeed despite the above?
In some cases, breastfeeding is not possible. Sometimes it can cause too much stress. It may be that your way of life does not allow you to be consistent with breastfeeding, or there may be medical conditions that make it impossible. In case of a disease, your energy to breastfeed may decrease or it may be due to a medicine you’re taking. If that’s the case and it keeps you from breastfeeding, ask your doctor if there is another safe option so you can continue with lactation.
On the other hand, there are cases when the baby can’t be breastfed because his body doesn’t tolerate it. Such conditions include being born with galactosemia, a hereditary disorder that prevents the metabolizing of galactose, a sugar found in milk. Don’t feel bad if you cannot nurse; sometimes, in spite of all the support and desire, the body doesn’t seem to cooperate. However, there are many other ways to bond with your baby. You can caress him, touch his face, bring him closer to your body, cuddle him, sing and talk to him with a sweet tone of voice. This will give him lots of love. Finally, remember there is a vast variety of formulas in the market which can help you find the adequate nutrition for your baby.