Bellababy | How to increase fat in breast milk?

Bellababy | How to increase fat in breast milk?

Breast milk is the most beneficial source of nourishment for newborns and infants, providing them with essential nutrients and antibodies that help protect them from infections and diseases. However, what bothers mothers is how to provide better breast milk, especially good breast milk that is rich in fat. 

The importance of the fat in breastmilk

The fat in breast milk are a very important source of energy for infants, supplying 45% to 55% of the total energy. Fat in breast milk also provide essential nutrients such as unsaturated fatty acids, and are rich in fat-soluble vitamins. Numerous studies have reported that lipids in breast milk present important physiological functions, such as influencing an infant's gastrointestinal function, neurodevelopment, immune development, etc., which are very important for an infant's growth and development.

Studies have shown that fat is one of the most abundant macronutrients in breast milk, with an average content of 3.5 g/100 ml. For an exclusively breastfed 0-6 month old infant, the average daily intake of fat reaches about 21 g. The total fat intake from breast milk at 6 months of age is estimated to be as high as 3.9 kg, which is important for the rapid increase in body weight and body fat of the infant during the same period. However, the fat content of breast milk is influenced by many factors and varies between mothers, and studies have shown that women who gain more weight during pregnancy also have higher fat content in their milk. For the same lactating mother, the fat content of breast milk increases as the lactation phase progresses, and there are differences in the fat content of breast milk at different times of the day, even at the same feeding when the fat content of the hind milk is higher than the fore milk.

Understanding the Factors that Affect Milk Supply

Before discussing how to increase milk supply, It's essential to comprehend the elements that impact milk production. Milk production is a complex process that involves a combination of hormonal and physical factors. Prolactin, a hormone the pituitary gland produces, is responsible for milk production. The more often a baby feeds, the more prolactin the mother's body produces, increasing the milk supply. However, other factors can affect milk supply, including:

  1. Baby's Feeding Pattern: The frequency and duration of breastfeeding sessions can affect milk supply. If a baby is not often feeding enough or not latching on correctly, this can reduce the milk supply.
  2. Mother's Health: A mother's health can affect the milk supply. Health conditions such as thyroid disorders, diabetes, or PCOS can reduce milk production.
  3. Stress: High-stress levels can have a negative impact on milk production as they can cause the release of cortisol, which can suppress the production of prolactin.
  4. Medications: Certain medications, including hormonal contraceptives and decongestants, can reduce milk production.
  5. Breast Surgery: Breast surgery can affect milk production. Surgeries that involve cutting the milk ducts or nerves can reduce milk supply.

Now that we understand the factors that affect milk supply let's discuss the various ways to increase milk fat.

  1. Breastfeed Frequently

Breastfeeding frequently is one of the most effective ways to increase milk supply. The more often a baby feeds, the more prolactin the mother's body produces, resulting in increased milk production. Ideally, newborns should feed at least eight to twelve times a day, and older babies should feed at least six to eight times a day. Ensuring the baby is correctly latching on is also important, as a poor latch can reduce milk supply.

  1. Practice Skin-to-Skin Contact

Skin-to-skin contact is an effective way to increase milk supply. When a baby is placed skin-to-skin with the mother, it stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps with milk let-down. Skin-to-skin contact can be performed during breastfeeding sessions or other times during the day, and it can help promote relaxation and bonding between a mother and her baby. Oxytocin, often called the "love hormone," may play a role in these positive effects.

  1. Pump after Feeding

Pumping after feeding can help increase the milk supply. This technique is known as "double pumping," It involves pumping both breasts simultaneously for 10 to 15 minutes after a breastfeeding session. This technique helps empty the breasts fully and signals the body to produce more milk. Mothers can also pump between feedings to stimulate milk production.

  1. Ensure Proper Nutrition

A mother's diet can affect the milk supply. Maintaining a balanced diet that incorporates adequate protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates is crucial. Certain foods like oats, brewer's yeast, and flaxseed are believed to boost milk supply. Drinking sufficient water to stay hydrated is also essential since inadequate hydration can decrease milk production.

  1. Take Galactagogues

Galactagogues are substances that are known to increase milk production. They can be in the form of foods, herbs, or medications. Some examples of galactagogues include fenugreek, blessed thistle, alfalfa, and milk thistle. These substances work by increasing prolactin production, which in turn increases milk production. Before taking galactagogues, seeking advice from a healthcare provider is crucial as they may have adverse effects or interact with other medications.

  1. Practice Breast Compression

Breast compression is a technique that can help increase milk supply. It involves applying pressure to the breast while the baby is feeding. This technique helps to encourage the baby to feed more efficiently, which in turn stimulates milk production. Breast compression can also help to empty the breast more fully, sending a signal to the body to produce more milk.

  1. Get Plenty of Rest

Getting enough rest is essential for milk production. Sleep deprivation can interfere with hormone production, including prolactin, reducing milk production. Getting as much rest as possible and taking naps whenever possible is important.

  1. Manage Stress Levels

High levels of stress can interfere with milk production. Stress can trigger the release of cortisol, suppressing prolactin production and reducing milk supply. Engaging in relaxation practices such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can assist in controlling stress levels. Activities that bring joy, such as spending time with loved ones or hobbies, can also help reduce stress.

  1. Seek Support

Breastfeeding can be challenging, and it is important to seek support from others. Support can come from a lactation consultant, a support group, or a friend or family member with breastfeeding experience. A lactation consultant can advise on breastfeeding techniques and help troubleshoot milk production issues. A support group can provide a community of other breastfeeding mothers who can offer support and advice.