Embarking on the journey of breastfeeding your baby is a special experience, providing them with essential nutrients and a strong foundation for their growth and development. As a new or expecting mother, you may be curious about how to build and increase milk supply, ensuring a successful breastfeeding journey. Being a breastfeeding prepper means taking proactive steps to optimize your milk production and provide your little one with the best start in life. In this blog, we'll explore strategies on how to build milk supply and how to properly store your breast milk supply, empowering you to navigate the breastfeeding experience with confidence and joy.\n\nWhat Causes Low Milk Supply?\n\nWhile breastfeeding is a natural process, some breastfeeding mamas may experience challenges with low milk supply or producing less milk. Understanding the causes can help you address and overcome them. Here are some common factors that can contribute to low milk supply:\nInadequate Breastfeeding Frequency\nBreast milk production works on a supply and demand basis. The more frequently a baby breastfeeds, the more milk supply increases to meet the demand. Infrequent or inconsistent breastfeeding, or long gaps between nursing sessions, can reduce milk production and result in low milk supply. Breastfeeding on demand, whenever the baby shows hunger cues, helps to maintain a healthy milk supply and supports your body’s ability to produce enough breast milk.\nImproper Latching\nA proper latch is essential for effective milk transfer, stimulation of milk production, and making sure your baby is getting enough milk. When a baby latches incorrectly, they may not be able to effectively remove milk from the breast. This can decrease milk supply because the breasts aren't being adequately stimulated. It's important for you to seek assistance from a lactation consultant or healthcare professional if you’re experiencing difficulties with latching while your milk supply is low.\nMedical Conditions\nCertain medical conditions can impact milk supply. For example, conditions that impact insulin resistance, or body weight, or hormone balance, may impact milk supply. If you suspect that a medical condition is affecting how much milk you’re able to produce, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and guidance.\nSupplementing with Formula\nIntroducing infant formula instead of exclusively breastfeeding can signal to the body that less milk is needed. As mentioned earlier, this is because breastfeeding works on a demand basis, and when formula is regularly given instead of breast milk, the demand for breast milk decreases. As a result, the body may produce less milk over time. If supplementation is necessary, it is recommended to consult with a lactation consultant or healthcare professional to find the best approach that minimizes the risk of low milk supply while still providing your baby with enough milk to support your baby’s weight gain after birth.\nStress and Fatigue\nHigh levels of stress and exhaustion can interfere with milk production. Stress activates the body's "fight or flight" response, which can interfere with milk production. Similarly, fatigue can disrupt the hormonal balance necessary for milk synthesis. Finding ways to manage stress, such as practicing relaxation techniques, getting sufficient rest, and seeking support from loved ones, can help maintain a healthy milk supply and support your body’s ability to produce enough milk for your baby.\n\nHow Do You Increase Your Milk Supply?\n\nIf you're concerned about not producing enough milk, there are several steps you can take to increase milk supply:\nStart Early and Establish a Strong Foundation\nBuilding a solid milk supply begins before your baby arrives. Educate yourself about breastfeeding techniques and benefits to prepare for your breastfeeding journey. Consider attending prenatal breastfeeding classes led by a board-certified lactation consultant, who can guide you on latching, positioning, and establishing a good milk supply during the first few weeks of nursing, or take a class in the hospital right after birth to learn the proper positioning, latching, and how to burp the baby. This knowledge will boost your confidence and set the stage for successful breastfeeding.\nNurse Frequently and Responsively\nFrequent and responsive nursing is a key method to build and increase milk supply. Feed your baby whenever they show hunger cues, allowing them to nurse on demand. This frequent nursing stimulates breast milk production and establishes a healthy supply-demand cycle. Remember, the more your baby nurses, the more milk your body will produce. Allow your baby to nurse from both breasts during each feeding session to completely empty the breasts of their full milk supply. This will signal your body to produce more milk. \nMaster the Art of Proper Latching\nProper latching is essential for effective milk let down and maintaining a good milk supply. Ensure your baby latches onto your breast correctly, with a wide mouth encompassing both the nipple and a portion of the areola. Seek guidance from a lactation consultant if you encounter difficulties, as a good latch can affect milk supply. Also, your baby’s milk intake has more benefits than just increasing milk supply. A proper latch can lead to Increased milk intake, which may help low birth weight babies with gaining weight and remaining healthy as they continue to grow.\nPractice Breast Compression and Massage\nTo encourage milk flow and efficient breast emptying, incorporate breast compression and massage techniques. While your baby nurses, gently compress your breast with your hand or use a breast compression tool. This gentle pressure aids in transferring more milk and signals your body to produce even more. Massage your breasts before and after nursing to stimulate milk ducts and enhance milk flow.\nMaintain a Healthy Diet and Hydration\nProper nutrition and hydration play a crucial role in milk production. Ensure you consume a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats to support milk production. Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Consider adding one of our Milkflow drink mixes to your daily routine. They’re made with milk supply-optimizing herbs and come in five delicious flavor variations. Remember, a well-hydrated body produces more breast milk to meet your baby's needs.\nRest and Self-Care\nRest and self-care are vital for maintaining a healthy milk supply. Take time to relax, prioritize sleep, and reduce stress levels. Since stress can negatively affect milk production, engage in activities that help you unwind and recharge. Did someone say, “Spa day?” Accept support from loved ones and delegate tasks, allowing you to focus on bonding with your baby and producing more milk.\nRelieve Breast Engorgement\nBreast engorgement is another factor that can affect milk supply. It occurs when your breasts become overly full, often due to an imbalance between milk production and removal. Engorgement can cause discomfort, swelling, and difficulty latching for your baby. If left unaddressed, it may lead to a temporary decrease in milk supply. To relieve engorgement, try applying an ice pack or cold compresses. Gentle massage and hand expression can also help with milk flow. Ensuring your baby is latching effectively and nursing frequently can help alleviate engorgement and prevent further disruptions in milk supply. Remember, breast engorgement is a common and temporary issue that can be managed with patience and care.\n\nConsider Using a Breast Pump\n\nIncorporating a breast pump can be beneficial for building and increasing your milk supply, especially if you plan to return to work or need to express milk for other reasons. Pumping after nursing sessions or between feedings provides additional stimulation which can help increase milk production and tell your body to produce more milk. Follow proper techniques and consult a board certified lactation consultant to ensure effective pumping.\n\nStore Expressed Milk Properly\n\nIf you're pumping and storing breast milk, it's crucial to follow safe storage guidelines. Use clean, BPA-free containers specifically designed for breast milk. Label each container with the date it was expressed and store it in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for longer-term storage.\nAs always, if you're struggling to increase your milk supply, don’t be shy to contact a medical professional or lactation consultant who knows your baby and knows your body. They’ll be able to provide personalized advice and support to help you increase breast milk supply.\n\n\nHow Do You Properly Store Breast Milk?\n\nAs mentioned previously, proper storage of breast milk is crucial to maintain its quality and ensure its safety for your baby. Here are some friendly guidelines for storing breast milk:\n\n\n\nUse clean containers: Select clean, BPA-free containers specifically designed for breast milk storage.\n\n\nLabel and date: Label each container with the date the milk was expressed to ensure you use the oldest milk first.\n\n\nRefrigeration: Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. Place it in the coldest part of the refrigerator and away from raw foods.\n\n\nFreezing: If you won't be using the milk within four days, consider freezing it. Breast milk stored in a freezer is best for up to 6 months and is acceptable for up to 12 months.\n\n\nThawing: Thaw frozen breast milk by placing it in the refrigerator overnight or running the container under warm water. Avoid using a microwave, as it can create hot spots and damage the milk's beneficial properties. Never refreeze breast milk after it has been thawed.\n\n\nDiscard unused milk: If your baby doesn't finish a bottle of breast milk within two hours of starting the feeding, it's recommended to discard the remaining milk to ensure your baby's safety.\n\n\nFor more in-depth information on how to properly store breast milk, check out our helpful blog post here.\n\nReady to become a breastfeeding prepper?\nBy following these friendly and supportive strategies for building, increasing, and properly storing your breast milk supply, you can provide your baby with the nourishment they need while enjoying a fulfilling breastfeeding experience. Trust your body's ability to produce milk and seek support from lactation consultants whenever needed. You’re not walking this journey alone, mama!