Apart from having baby feed often at the breast, the next big breast milk booster—in my opinion–-has got to be rest. I’ve noticed that my milk supply seems to build up the fastest when I can really, properly, rest – even for a short period of time. If I can actually fall asleep for a bit (like a half hour or more), that’s even better. Actually, this all makes a lot of intuitive sense. If you are constantly up and about, running from doing one thing to the next, your body will use its energy reserves to give you the energy to keep active and moving. But if you get the chance to lie down and rest, your body will be able to direct those energy stores to breast milk production.
I think this is something we all know already, but just find challenging to do. Logistically, it can be tough especially if there are other young children in the picture. Mentally, if you’re a multi-tasker or busy bee like me, it can also be difficult to prioritize rest above all else. Often, the temptation is, “I’ll just do this one more thing first (like check email)…” Then before you know it, the baby’s up already! But taking the time out to rest does make a difference. Try to prioritize the less important things later (like unloading the dishes from the dishwasher). Even if you think baby’s only going to take a half hour nap, force yourself to at least lie down for 15-20 min first. If baby ends up sleeping longer, then great, you’ll have time to unload those dishes. But if not, at least you’ve rested!
Rest even if you can’t sleep. At first with a newborn, I got used to short but solid stretches of sleep between feedings. But when she turned a month old and started to get disrupted sleep from gas discomfort—so did I. She began waking up suddenly in the middle of daytime naps and often in the night, crying loudly and needing to be burped. Even though two months later these gas issues started to resolve and baby began to sleep longer stretches again, I found it still took a while for my body to adjust back to sleeping better. While baby slept soundly, I would often feel wired up and lie awake, wondering when baby would suddenly start up crying again. But during these times, I found it still helped if I tried to rest, even if I did not fall asleep.
So remember, even little snatches of rest here and there is better than none. Not to mention it’ll help you feel more recharged and refreshed to carry on when you do!