Breastfeeding Safely: Boosting Supply in a Time of Demand

More and more nursing moms are turning to drugs to help them produce more milk. This form of "extreme breastfeeding" is becoming more popular -- but is it worth the risk?
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New mothers' concerns regarding low milk supply are ever present. An article titled "Breastfeeding Pills' Risky Results" recently ran on The Daily Beast, discussing the fact that many nursing moms are turning to drugs to help them produce more milk. Studies show that there is no sound evidence to prove that the pills work, and doctors say that taking these pills can come with serious side effects. This form of "extreme breastfeeding" is becoming more popular -- but is it worth the risk?

Although many women chose to take pills like Reglan and Domperidone to boost milk supply, this is an "off-label" use and there are documented side effects and risks when it comes to using these GI pills to increase milk production. Many mothers have a worry that they will not be able to produce enough milk to sustain their babies. For some moms, this is just a worry and they find that by feeding on demand, exclusively breastfeeding (meaning nothing else including formula supplementation or water) and regularly stimulating their breasts (with baby feeding at the breast or, if separated, by pumping during a normal feeding session) they are able to maintain a very good milk supply.

For mothers who do experience low milk supply, there are a number of safe and natural ways to boost it. First, drink water. Water is extremely important for milk production, though excessive amounts of water are not necessary. Breastfeeding women should drink enough to stay properly hydrated throughout the day. There are also herbal supplements, like Fenugreek and blessed thistle, among others, that have been used around the world for years to boost milk supply. Certain foods, such as oatmeal and granola, may also increase production. Although oatmeal is a great food for breastfeeding moms, a well-rounded diet is essential -- supplementing oatmeal for three meals a day will not increase milk production.

Feeding baby at the breast is ideal and the best way to increase your milk supply. In addition, there are other actions mothers can take -- such as an extra pumping after you have nursed to ensure you have drained all of the milk from your breast, pumping in between feedings or at night before you go to sleep and after you have nursed. Many moms find that they have a high milk supply in the morning after sleeping, so try a morning pumping session if you can. Additional pumping sessions will trigger to your body to make more milk. Using a specially-designed warm/hot gel pack while pumping can also elicit more milk during a pumping session.

Check out The Daily Beast article by Eliza Shapiro here.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with me on the Lansinoh Facebook wall or with the breastfeeding community by tweeting using the hastag #BFchat.

Full disclosure: Gina Cicatelli Ciagne, CLC is a Senior Director of Professional Relations for Lansinoh Laboraties, manufacturers of breastfeeding supplies and equipment.

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