Calcium is one of the most critical needs for nursing mothers, according to WebMD. Although dairy foods are an obvious choice for increasing your calcium, the site says, "You don't have to drink milk to make milk." Foods like salmon, broccoli, sesame seeds, tofu, and kale will give you the 1,000 milligrams of calcium that you need for nursing. If your milk supply is low, double check that you are getting enough calcium, and change your diet accordingly.
WebMd recommends a diet rich in complex carbohydrates to maintain your milk supply and provide the best nutrition for your baby. Be sure to incorporate many fruits and vegetables along with whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, popcorn and whole-wheat bread into your diet. Not only will these foods help your milk supply, they will also increase your energy level and help you shed pregnancy pounds.
Dehydration poses a serious risk to your milk supply. According to BabyCenter.com, a nursing mother needs 16 cups of fluid a day. This is because of the amount of fluid you are losing through breastfeeding. Rather than charting intake, the site recommends drinking to thirst and watching that your urine is light colored, which indicates you are well hydrated. Choose mostly water, milk and 100 percent fruit juices to maximize milk supply.
Nurse your baby frequently. Your body produces breast milk on a supply and demand basis. The more your baby nurses or the more you express yourself, the more you will make. Try to nurse or pump every two hours during the day. Try to never miss a feeding or pumping session, if you can help it.
Switch sides during each feeding. Either let baby finish one breast and offer the other or switch sides at least three or four times during each nursing session.
Pump breast milk after your baby has finished nursing. This will remove any leftover milk and will signal to your body to produce more milk. Store the expressed milk for later use.
Feed your baby breast milk from your breast or a bottle and avoid feeding her formula and juice if you can. When you are the sole supplier of milk for your baby, you will be nursing more frequently than you would if you offer both breast milk and formula.
Drink lots of water throughout the day. Your body needs plenty of liquids to produce breast milk. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends 13 cups of water and other hydrating liquids each day for a lactating woman. Avoid coffee, soda and alcohol, which can dehydrate you and may temporarily reduce your milk production.
Reduce your daily stress, whenever possible, eat healthy foods and take care of your body. Stress, illness and some medications can affect your milk production temporarily, according to KidsHealth.
Influences on Milk
The amount of milk a newborn gets from nursing can vary according to a mother's supply, according to Dr. William Sears. Mothers who nurse frequently, pump between feedings, use both breasts to nurse and nurse exclusively usually have a greater supply of milk. Practicing these behaviors over a period of weeks or months can increase a mother's milk supply. Reducing how often you nurse or switching to formula will cause a drop in breast milk supply.
During your newborn's first month, she may drink between 21 and 24 ounces of breast milk a day, according to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Those ounces may be spread across 8 to 12 nursing sessions a day, according to KidsHealth.org. Your newborn may also have a growth spurt one to two weeks after birth, and she may nurse more frequently during that time.
Healthy Nursing Signs
If you are concerned about the amount of milk your baby gets from nursing, his behavior and diapers could be indicators, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Well-fed babies should wet about six diapers and soil at least three diapers a day. Weight gains after the first week and a baby who appears sated after nursing are also signs that your little one is getting enough to eat. If he turns away from the breast during nursing or falls asleep, it is also likely your little one has had enough, according to KidsHealth.org.
If you are concerned about your supply, you can talk to your baby's pediatrician or ask for a referral to a professional lactation consultant, according to Dr. William Sears. These workers can give you tips on how to improve your milk supply. A doctor can also examine you and your baby for any other problems that could affect your milk production or a baby's ability to latch-on during nursing.