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Breastfeeding: Milk Not Enough

Many nursing mums think they have inadequate milk when in fact they don't. If you're one of them, try to have realistic expectations. Don't compare the rate your breastfed baby is gaining weight to a formula-fed baby. Don't look at the woman on the breast-pump box expressing a full bottle of milk and despair at your own half-full (or half-empty) one.

Don't panic if baby isn't nursing as long as before. This probably means he has become a more efficient feeder. And don't judge the amount baby is drinking from the amount you pump. Your baby is much more capable in removing milk from the breast than a pump can be. Milk supply can be affected by several factors says Doris, a lactation consultant and researcher.

Family and work-related stress is the most common. "A new baby brings about changes in the dynamics of the family that can be tough on the Mum," she says. Stress or infection brought on by an illness, or oral contraceptives (the mini or progesterone-only pill is okay), can also affect supply.

Ways To Increase

This can never be emphasised enough: Milk production is a demand-supply process. Increase the demand by nursing or expressing often and the supply should kick in. Also, increase the duration of the feed by practising switch nursing. This is where you allow baby to feed on the first breast until the intensity of his suck and swallow diminishes.

Before he is able to drops to sleep, sit him up, burp him, change his diaper, anything to wake him up. Put him onto the other breast and encourage him to nurse actively again. Switch back to the first breast when he slows down and finish on this side.

Empty The Breast

Pump after feeds to ensure that both breasts are empty. This sends the signal to your body that more is needed. Use gentle massage before, and during, breastfeeding or expressing to encourage more complete emptying of the breast. Do it like you would a self-breast examination: Press around the breast with the flat of the fingers in a circular motion.

Start at the top of the breast and work around. Next, gently brush the breast with your fingertips from outside toward the nipple. This helps to stimulate the let-down reflex. Finally, lean forward and shake both breasts. Then continue to express. If baby needs to suck, make sure he does it at your breast and not on an artificial nipple. Your milk supply should adjust to meet his needs. If you do need to supplement with formula feeds, spoon it into his mouth.

Try Foods To Increase Your Milk Supply

Lactating mothers need to eat a well-balanced diet with 500 extra calories above their non-pregnant dietary requirement. There are no scientific studies that show that certain foods or herbs will increase lactation, its merely anecdotal evidence.


This spice is found in curries and has been used for many centuries. You can find it in capsule form from health supplement stores. Steep the seeds in hot water to make a tea. Sweeten it if you don't like the taste. Take half to one teaspoon of seeds three times a day. If taking the capsules, take around 3,500mg a day.

Nursing Mothers' Tea

This is designed to enhance milk production and supply, restore the post-partum body as well as calm, soothe, and lift the spirits of the nursing mother. The key ingredients for boosting supply are nettle, alfafa, fenugreek and hops flowers. The tea contains no caffeine, black tea, or orange pekoe tea. 

Brewer's Yeast

Rich in iron, protein and vitamin Bs, this is available as a powder or in capsules.

Oily Fish

Cold water fish like salmon and cod and threadfin (ikon kurau) are high in protein and good fatty acids.

Over Do It On Weekends

Breastfeed intensely over the weekend when you are with baby. Try pumping the other breast as baby feeds or pump after baby's feed. It goes back to the demand-supply equation. Don't worry if you pump and get nothing or very little. It can take a few days for your body to respond by making more milk.

Tried-And-Test Tips

"I was at the end of maternity leave and I felt my supply dip. 1 needed a quick boost before 1 returned to work and someone told me soup made from pig's trotters, soya beans and peanuts works. I made it, drank it and even ate the fatty meat and in a few days time, my breasts felt fuller!" - Jennifer, 26.

"°I swear by threadfln (ikon kurau) which I eat everyday. It also gives my milk a thick layer of fat which is visible when the expressed milk is left to stand in the fridge." - Catherine, 31. "I was prescribed Motilium for milk production. Without it, I express 50ml but once on it, I can double or triple that amount. I also find that when I remember to drink lots of water, production goes up a bit." - Annabelle, 40.

"Drink plenty of fluids. Try taking oatmeal, about one big cup about twice a day. I find it helps to boost my supply a little." - Maureen, 28.

"I stated taking brewer's yeast and saw results not just in terms of fuller boobs but also more energy despite the sleep deprivation and working full time. The taste was awful at first. I used to gag even when it was mixed into Milo but now I can hardly taste it. Start with a teaspoon and work up to a tablespoon or more." - Mileen, 29. "Just nurse more! 1 started taking lots of green papaya soup and fish post delivery, and drank lots of liquids, but as I continue on this breastfeeding journey, I've realised nothing beats constant nursing or pumping. Your brain gets the signal to produce more! When I am pumping, I read e-mails or work on the laptop. When your mind is not focused on the milk output, the quantity is somehow higher than if you constantly look at the milk flow." - Chrissy, 29.


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