Frequent nursing can boost a mother's milk production.

Factors Affecting Milk Production in Breastfeeding

by Candice Coleman

Once your little one arrives, the breastfeeding sessions begin right away. During the first few days after birth, new mothers produce "colostrum," a name for the initial milk, which is high in nutrients and antibodies. Milk supply may be minimal during those first days, but it should steadily increase with time. If low milk production continues affecting your ability to breastfeed, you may be able to make some adjustments to get your supply up to baby's demand.

1. Feeding Schedule

If your milk production is low, breastfeeding more often may be just the solution you need. Stimulating the breasts through feeding can increase a mother's milk production. If instead you turn to pacifiers or formula to soothe your hungry baby, expect milk production to fall accordingly, points out the American Academy of Pediatrics. Persistence is a key factor that affects milk production. It may take a few weeks after your little one's birth before your milk supply can meet your newborn's needs.

2. Nursing Time and Technique

As baby breastfeeds, she may suckle at a slower pace because she is filling up or because she is falling asleep. Instead of nursing for a set amount of time, let your baby feed as long as she desires. Switching breasts during breastfeeding may also keep your newborn engaged and eager to eat. Feeding from only one breast can cause the other breast to stop producing milk.

3. Diet

After giving birth, new mothers are often eager to hit the gym and start dieting to get back to pre-pregnancy condition. Exclusive breastfeeding can burn 200 to 500 calories a day, and cutting your daily calorie intake too much can affect your milk production, according to Kelly Bonyata, a certified lactation consultant writing for KellyMom.com. A sudden drop in calories, rather than a gradual decrease, can also impact milk production. Your doctor can provide guidance on how to lose weight in a healthy manner -- for both you and your baby.

4. Professional Help

Learning the ropes of breastfeeding can sometimes leave new mothers frustrated and concerned. A doctor can refer you to a lactation consultant, a professional who can teach breastfeeding techniques and offer advice on increasing milk production. Improper breastfeeding techniques may affect your baby's latch to your breast, which could in turn affect how much milk your baby receives during feedings. It can also impact your milk production over the long term.

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