7 Tips for Maintaining Your Milk Supply As Your Child Ages
If you're hoping to continue breastfeeding - at least sometimes - as your child eats more food and/or you supplement with formula, try the seven tips below to keep your milk flowing.
1. Feed in the dark
At least once a day, carve out time to cuddle your child in the dark, skin-to-skin, with free access to the breasts. Use as little artificial light as necessary and avoid using your phone during this time. Artificial lighting pollutes our bodies and wreaks havoc on the hormonal system which is so important for milk production. Darkness increases melatonin levels, leading to more relaxation and higher oxytocin (love hormone) levels. Make this a stress-free time where you are present with your child. This will encourage milk to flow for the love of your little one!
Especially if you miss a regular feed that you're trying to maintain or if your little one has a shorter feed than usual - use the pump to stimulate your breasts. Continue to pump for a few minutes after the last drop comes out. This will encourage your body to continue making milk at that time every day. You can put your milk in the fridge or freezer or donate it to a local breast milk bank!
3. Have a bath together
Babies and toddlers love bathing with their parents! I found this particularly popular among families in France and England. It can be a great bonding experience for you and your little one and helps your body to relax and produce more milk. Offer the breast freely while you're in the bath together. Make some bubbles, dim the lights, sing songs.
4. Play relaxing music
While you're breastfeeding or pumping, if you're stressed out your body will not make as much milk. Try turning on some soothing tunes to induce relaxation and promote the secretion of breastfeeding hormones. I love using the Calm application on my phone for soothing rain/nature sounds that calm parents just as much as babies!
5. Hydrate a lot
Carry a bottle of water with you everywhere. Hydrate yourself through the foods you eat; cucumber, celery, watermelon and other fruits and veggies are great options. Brew yourself tea 1-3 times a day. Raspberry leaf, fenugreek, and fennel are some of my favourite options.
6. Let your child eat whole foods
Avoid spoon feeding purees to healthy babies and children. Instead, allow your child to eat at their own pace with whole foods. Offer large slices of fruits and vegetables (e.g. strips of cucumber with the peel on, cooked carrots, pieces of meat/fish, cooked beans, pasta) that your child can hold on to and chew/suck. This way, your child does not get too full, learns to follow their own hungry/full impulses, has a sensory experience, and still has room for breast milk! As your child ages, they will naturally get more from their food and require less from the breast, but you can continue the ritual of breastfeeding as long as you want. Don't worry if your baby is eating less food as you follow this baby-led weaning method as long as you're breastfeeding and they continue gaining weight steadily.
7. Let your child linger on the breast
Feed for as long as you can on each breast whenever you breastfeed. Allow your child to drain a breast fully before switching the other breast. Let your child caress your breast, your face, and enjoy these moments. Kiss you child's hand or sing them a loving song. These moments are priceless for both mother and child and help encourage continued milk supply.