1. Start as early as possible
ELO, early latch on or in Indonesia known as IMD (inisiasi menyusui dini) is the best way to start breastfeeding and filling the supply earlier. But there’s no fuss if you didn’t have the chance to perform it right after the labour. I never have one with my three labours, and still manage to have enough supply of breastmilk. The key is to start as early as possible, although not as early as an hour after labour.
With my last baby, I started 2 hours after labour. And it surprised me that by the third day, I get a full breast. Usually, day 3 was when the supply just starts to flow.
Note: don’t think about the supply yet. Just start nursing. Your baby won’t necessarily need breastmilk until at least 2×24 hours. When s/he cries, s/he needs to nurse to bond to you. Crying is not always about hunger.
2. A good latch on
At your first times nursing your baby, quantity is not the issue. Babies brought their own food supply from the womb that will last until day 3 of their life. So stop worrying about how much milk you can produce, and whether baby is crying because of hunger. Force it out of your mind, if you can’t stop thinking about it.
Focus and concentrate on learning how to latch on. The faster you can master this, the bigger chance your supply can reach year two. Good latch on also mean less pain. It minimizes cracked nipples and swollen breast because milk-ducts are less likely to get blocked.
3. Have a rest
Yes, this sounds like a luxury for a new mom, moreover with another child around and no assistant. But when somehow you manage to steal an hour or two to get some cozy sleep without any disturbance from your baby or child(ren), you will get a fresh spirit for the rest of the day. A good mood means good breast milk supply.
Try to hand over your baby to the father, or maybe your mom when visiting.
4. Eat more
Producing breast milk needs a lot calories. 500 calories are burned each time you nurse. So you definitely need adequate replacement for the lost calories to make sure that breast milk is produced in the same pace as the demand. During breastfeeding phase, you will need more nutrition than in pregnancy. Your appetite may be doubled or tripled during breastfeeding. It is quite normal, but you should keep monitoring your body weight, especially if you are the type that gains weight quickly. It’s going to be quite an effort to lose the weight back to pre-pregnancy weight.
Protein-rich foods, either animal-based or vegetable-based, usually helps to maximize breast milk supply. Try to put some nuts (kacang panjang, kacang hijau, kacang merah, buncis), in your daily diet. Or you can mix them with red meat, white meat, or seafood. Just make sure that your baby doesn’t have any allergic reaction to them.
5. Drink more
Breast milk. Liquid matters. So you definitely need a lot of liquid intake to keep them flowing. When you feel your production is slowing, try to drink a lot of water. Try two or three litres per day. Referring to point 4 about protein-rich intake, try drinking cowmilk (actually any animal-milk will do) to boost. For some mom, warm liquid also helps to ease them reaching LDR (let down reflex).
6. Nurse more
Breastfeeding is about demand and supply. If you get it emptied often, it will get filled often.
Direct nursing, gives stimulation to reach LDR, and in turn it will help produce more breast milk. Ignore the empty feeling at the breast. Feeling empty doesn’t mean it is really empty. By keep giving ‘empty’ breast, it will send the information that it needs more supply. But do remember to switch between breast to balance the production.
There will be a time when you need to empty a full, hard, and painful breast but your baby seems to sleep with a peaceful face (and sometime they even smile in their sleep!). Having no heart to wake your baby up, then it’s time to use your breast pump. Full and hard breast will also make it harder for the baby to latch-on. They will become cranky and fussy, and even harder to latch-on. If this happens, pump some milk out until the breast get a bit softer.
You can also use it to empty one breast while nursing with the other one. This is believed to help boosting both breast’s production.
8. Have a peaceful mind
Some said that breastfeeding is mind game. When you believe you can breastfeed, then you just can. When you believe you have enough breast milk to supply until your baby is two years old, then it’s going to be enough. On the contrary, when you doubt you can stay breastfeeding until your baby reach his second birthday, the production will start to slow down a few months before your ‘target’. It also happen when you start to wean your baby. When you think it’s time to stop, then it starts to stop.
So, stay positive. Say to yourself that you will keep breastfeeding no matter what. Nothing can stop you. Not even one or hundreds negative words from people around you. You can, and you surely will. Don’t think what if you fail. But think that you surely going to success. (I think I start to sound like those million rupiahs motivation seminars :D).
This point is also about your current thought. If you are having hectic times at work, production might slow down. If you currently have some unsolved problems, it might also disturb the production. Try to relax a bit when you are breastfeeding or pumping. Put away your unfinished business for a moment. Think about relaxing places or activity. Or…
9. Think about your baby
To some people, thinking about their baby can make LDR suddenly sparks up. Thinking about his laughter, the precious moments with him. With me, I usually get my LDR when my baby runs his fingers through my skin. When he touches me, it gives me the shiver that make LDR starts.
10. Find professional or experienced help
When everything else fails, maybe it’s time to ask some professional opinion. Sometime these experienced practitioners can see what we can’t. But still, what you think is right is usually right. Because you are the mother of your baby. Do not hesitate to find other (second or third or more) opinion if you find that the earlier advice doesn’t seem right for you and your baby.