Infant feeding, New Mum, Newborn Care, Pregnancy

Boosting Your Breast Milk Supply

Are you worried about your supply of breast milk? Are you anxious because your baby doesn’t seem to want to do anything except eat? Does he or she never seem to settle fully between feeds or only settle for short periods? This can all be normal behaviour for very new babies, but no matter how old your baby is, there are some things you can do to increase your milk supply. That way you’ll know that if there is a problem, it doesn’t lie with your breast milk supply.

**This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of my links, I may receive a commission or credit at no additional cost to you. For more info, please read my disclosure policy.**

Supply and Demand

breastfeeding baby

Your body produces milk on a very simple supply and demand system. If all of your milk is removed, hopefully by a baby, your body produces even more for the next feed. This enables us to strategically increase demand artificially to increase your supply.

  • Pumping

    • You may have thought or heard about expressing or pumping milk. This is an excellent way to increase the amount of milk your body produces and can produce results fast.
    • There are many ways to express milk. Some people like to hand express, others will use a hand pump, others prefer an electric pump. You can even get a double electric pump. Yes, you can feel a bit like a milking machine, but let’s be honest, pregnancy isn’t all that great for dignity or glamour. This is for your baby, right? You’ll do anything to keep them well fed. That includes attaching yourself to an electric pump several times a day. For suggestions of good quality double pumps, trying this search on Amazon.
    • The key to expressing or pumping to bring in more milk is to do it after the baby has fed. That way you know that the baby is getting everything they want before you collect the remainder or put in the order for more.
    • Try expressing or pumping for 10 minutes on each side after every other feed to begin with. Obviously, a double electric pump will be finished in 10 minutes, whereas hand expressing or a single pump will take 20 minutes to do the same. However, some people may get a better let down reflex from hand expressing and end up collecting more milk than they would using a pump. That might be because they feel more comfortable hand expressing – the milking machine analogy can certainly make some women feel uncomfortable enough to slow production. There is no right or wrong way to express and sometimes only trial and error will show you what your body prefers.
    • You may not collect a lot for the first couple of sessions but this is very normal. It simply means your body will be getting clear signals that the supply needs to increase. Just keep going and over the next 24-48 hours you will find the amount you collect increasing.


  • Switch feedingbaby feeding

    • If you don’t want to spend extra time expressing after you’ve fed your baby, you can get your baby to make the demand for more milk. Sometimes babies will get so very comfortable and relaxed during a feed that they don’t eat everything they could before they fall off to sleep.
    • If your baby seems to fall asleep after only a short time at the breast, why not try switch feeding?
    • Start feeding the baby on one breast. When you notice the baby slowing down take them off and put them onto the other breast. You need to switch breasts before baby gets sleepy if possible. This means they may only feed for 2 minutes before the sucking and swallowing rhythm slows down. That is the time to switch breasts. Do this 3 times over the feed if possible so that both breasts have been fed from twice. This will definitely remind your body that there is a big demand for milk!
    • When you take the baby off the breast to switch onto the other one, try talking to them before you put them on the second breast. Lift them so that they are facing you vertically and try to catch their attention with soft encouraging words. This may help them wake up a little more.
    • Another classic midwife trick for waking up a rather sleepy baby in order to put them on the breast is letting them hang. Holding the baby securely with both hands under their armpits, lift them up into the air so that their legs are no longer supported by the bed or your lap. Although the baby is perfectly safe, they don’t like the sensation of having their bottom half unsupported, so it may wake them or even make them a little upset. I don’t recommend doing it for long periods! Just use it as a 2-second thing to wake them up enough to put them back on the breast. And tell them it was the nasty midwife’s idea if they complain!


  • Passive milk collection

    • Have you noticed that your breasts are leaking milk? Does that feel like a waste of the good stuff? There are ways to collect this leaking milk so that it can be used to feed your little one, rather than getting lost in a muslin cloth or your favourite nursing top.
    • Try using a silicone breast pump. This is a pre-formed silicone cone which is shaped to fit onto your breast and collect the dripping milk without any pumping action, manual or electric, required!
    • I like this one at Amazon:
    • Nipple shells can also collect the dripping milk if you don’t feel you have such great quantities. Shells are also great for wearing even when you aren’t wanting to collect the milk. If your nipples are really sore, nipple shells can help reduce the pressure on them from your bra or top.
    • Amazon has this twin pack with great reviews:
  • Keep to a schedule

    • The easiest way to boost your milk supply requires no extra money to be spent, which is great news since babies are very expensive little creatures! It’s such a good job they’re so cute!
    • The simplest technique is simply putting the baby to the breast more often. Babies are definitely the most efficient at removing milk from a breast. You may find you get nothing when you use a pump or hand express but your baby is getting plenty of milk when they feed at the breast. That’s absolutely fine!
    • Keep sleep periods short if you want to increase your milk supply. For healthy babies, demand or baby led feeding is recommended. That means as long as the baby gets at least 8 – 10 feeds of 10 minutes or more in 24 hours, we don’t mind how long the gap between feeds is.
    • However, if you think you need to increase your milk supply, try planning for a feed every 2.5 – 3 hours maximum. Gaps of 4 hours or longer might be normal in healthy babies who feed 8 – 10 times in 24 hours, but they won’t stimulate an increase in milk supply.
    • You can be kind to yourself and try waking the baby more frequently for feeds during the day. Let him or her have longer sleeps during the night. Don’t make your sleepless nights even harder by waking yourself and baby every 2.5 hours overnight!


  • Keep watching for hunger cues


    • Sometimes we miss an opportunity to put the baby on the breast because we haven’t noticed that they are hungry.
    • Keep your baby close to you, preferably in the same room. You can then notice the signs of hunger which come before crying, such as licking their licks, searching with their mouths open and sticking out their tongues. If you have left your baby in a safe place in another room you may want to consider bringing them back to your side when the 2.5 hour point comes, as they may already be beginning to stir.
    • Don’t use a pacifier all the time. Pacifiers can be really useful as a baby gets older or if your newborn just seems to be a very sucky baby who wants to suck even though they’ve fed well.
    • However, if you want to increase your milk supply, then the baby needs to be using your breast as its pacifier instead. You can still use the pacifier overnight if you would rather have that help for settling the baby to sleep. Just consider avoiding using it during the day.




Woman feeding baby

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New Mum, Newborn Care

The Newborn Blood Spot Test

One of the first medical tests your newborn baby has is the heel prick test. It is also called the blood spot test and forms part of the UK national screening programme. Further information on the programme can be found here.

You may have heard stories from other parents about how upsetting they and their baby found the test. It does involve a small cut on the baby’s foot but I don’t believe it has to be distressing for parents or baby. In fact, I always aim to cause as little discomfort as possible. I warn parents that the baby is likely to be more upset about getting naked to be weighed that they are about getting the test done.

Baby's foot

What is the Blood Spot Test for?

The blood spot test collects a small amount of blood and checks it for 9 different health conditions.

Some of these conditions are metabolic. This means that the baby may be born unable to digest a certain protein or fat. If the baby’s diet included it, the undigested protein or fat would build up to levels in their body which would cause them harm. However, if we find out that the baby has that condition we can give them a diet without the particular protein or fat and the baby is absolutely fine.

The other conditions we look for are:

  • Cystic Fibrosis, a condition which causes problems in our lungs and digestive systems. The baby may need physiotherapy and medications
  • Sickle Cell or Thalassemia, a condition where blood cells have an unusual shape. It is more common in families with African ancestors.
  • Hypothyroidism, which is where the baby’s thyroid doesn’t produce enough of the hormone thyroxine. The baby may need medication.

How to help reduce baby’s distress

Crying baby

So how can I promise that your baby will be more distressed by the weighing that follows the heel prick test than by the test itself?

Well, in order to collect the right amount of blood, we need the foot to have a good blood supply. Have you noticed that your baby always has cold hands and feet? This is very normal and important as the baby is keeping most of its blood in the important areas of its brain and chest. This means that normally we would have to press quite hard and wait for ages to collect the right amount of blood from the baby’s foot. It’s this drawn out pressure and holding of the foot that causes the most distress.

The key to reducing distress is warm feet.

I always ask parents to put socks on their baby before I visit. Sometimes that means they do it in the middle of the night. I also ask them to put lots (more than 2 or 3) of pairs of socks on the baby, as well as booties, as well as wrapping them in a cosy blanket. No kidding! Sometimes the baby’s feet look twice their size, but I’d rather that for a short time so the baby doesn’t find the test upsetting, than that the baby looks fashionable!

If for some reason the baby’s feet are still cold, or if the parents have forgotten to put on any or enough socks, we still have options to warm the feet up.

My next action is to ask you for a mug or jug or bowl filled with really really warm water. I don’t want lukewarm water. I want the kind of water that turns your fingers red when you put them into it. You should be able to put your fingers into it, though, not find them burning!

The reason your fingers turn red is because the blood flows into them to cool them down. So yes, my plan is to put the baby’s foot into the water until it turns red. Their first experience of paddling! After about a minute of paddling in good warm water, I find that the babies’ feet don’t need lots of pressure to provide enough blood. It also flows quickly so that the test is over quickly too.

Other things you can do to help

Baby being cuddled

Cuddle your baby during the test. They already know you and your scent and your voice. Being held by you is always going to calm them more than if the midwife holds them.

Hold them in an upright position. Gravity will help with the blood flow to their foot. This means that cuddling them across your chest won’t be as effective as holding them over your shoulder or sitting them up in your lap so their feet dangle down over the side of your legs.

Speak gently and soothingly to them. A calm soothing sound such as ‘shush’ or ‘sssshhhh’ can really comfort a baby in distress.

Feed the baby or provide a pacifier for them to suck. Sucking is always a comforting experience for babies. Letting them feed will also keep them close to you which will help keep them calm.

Results of the Blood Spot Test

The results of the test are usually sent out in the post to you if everything is ok. It can take up to eight weeks for these results to arrive. If you still haven’t heard anything, ask your health visitor.

Any abnormal or unexpected results are followed up quickly by professionals. The midwife may return to repeat the test and collect extra blood for further checks. You may be asked to attend the children’s department of your local hospital for further tests. The Health Visitor may come to discuss the results with you or may give you details of a specialist nurse who can talk you through the results in more detail.

The conditions we check for can be found in more detail on the NHS website here, or in the screening booklet your midwife gave you at the beginning of your pregnancy.

Please be reassured that the conditions we are looking for are very rare and entirely manageable. You shouldn’t be overly anxious about the health of your baby if he or she is feeding well and behaving normally. If you do have any concerns about your baby’s health please speak to a health professional as soon as possible.

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Newborn Care

Helping Babies to Burp

Babies often need a little help to bring up their wind, or burp. Whether they are fed by bottle or breast, it is definitely useful to know how to encourage this as trapped wind can be very uncomfortable. Here are some of my favourite techniques for helping babies burp.


If your baby is reluctant to release their trapped wind, try going through all the suggestions below in a cycle. Every baby is different and what works once may not work another time. Trial and error, along with lots of patience, will help you figure out your baby’s preference.

Mother and Baby

Stroking up their back

Sit baby up on your knee, facing to one side. Lean them slightly forward onto one hand, using your thumb and forefinger to support their head in an upright position. Use a very gentle lift in that supporting hand to keep their back as straight as possible. Whilst their back is straight, use firm pressure to stroke up their back from about the level of their belly button to their shoulders. You can also alternate the strokes with gentle patting, concentrating on the middle area of the back. It can be tempting to pat between their shoulder blades, but you’re trying to move the air bubbles up from their stomachs, so patting that area is more effective.


The main way to relieve the pain of trapped wind is to dislodge it so the baby can burp, so rocking can be very helpful. Hold the baby in the same way as when stroking up their back, but hold them with one hand on their front and one on their back. Gently rock them from side to side, then from front to back, again and again. You only need to rock them about 1-2 inches each way. Try to keep their back as straight as you can.

Lie them up over your shoulderBaby looking over shoulder


This position really helps keep a baby’s back naturally straight so you can concentrate on the gentle patting of their back. Hold the baby in the same arm as the shoulder you want to put them over. Their chin should be level with the top of your shoulder. Let their hands rest next to their chin, as in the picture above. The hand you are holding them with should be over the nappy area and around their chest. Your free hand will hover over the back of their rib cage. Keep your hand quite close to baby as you pat since newborns can sometimes throw themselves back without warning. With your hand close, you can catch and control this movement very easily.

Put them over your knees

Sit down in a comfy chair and keep your knees together and your feet flat on the floor. It can be helpful to lay a blanket or muslin cloth over your knees in case the baby dribbles or vomits.  Lie baby down over your knees, with his head at the side of one of your thighs and his feet at the other side. This position puts a little pressure on the baby’s stomach. Gentle patting can be combining with stroking and rocking your knees together from side to side.


Babies like bouncing even if they don’t have wind! You can hold them facing towards or away from you with your hands around their torso and under their armpits. Bounce gently up and down, at a rate that suits you and baby. About 120 times a minute, or twice a second is a good place to start. If you just use your forearms, this is an excellent arm workout!

However, if your baby really does like bouncing, your arms are likely to get tired quite quickly. Try resting baby’s bottom on your bent knee whilst sitting. Bring your knee up by raising onto your tiptoes, then gently drop your heel down towards the floor. This gives a gentle bouncing motion without as much effort on your biceps. You can also do this with the baby facing outwards with their legs either side of your thigh and their back resting against your abdomen.

Sleepy baby


Massage is an excellent way to soothe your baby and can help to stimulate the gut movement needed to help them pass wind. Keep the room nice and warm and strip baby down to their nappy. Give a little gentle pressure to their tummy in a clockwise circular motion. This matches the direction of their intestines so helps move air along to the exit! Some people recommend motioning as if they were writing I L U (for I love you) over the baby’s tummy. There are plenty of images on pinterest showing how to do this, but a simple circular clockwise motion will work just as well.

Knees up

Baby bent knees

Have you noticed how your baby will often poo right in the middle of changing their nappy? That’s because when you lift their knees and hold them bent, it stimulates movement in their intestines, so they can’t help but poo out more! That makes this position a great one to remember if your baby has wind as well as if your baby hasn’t pooed for a while or seems a little constipated. Just as when you change a nappy, gently hold their feet and push their knees up to bend naturally. Hold in that position for a few minutes if baby will tolerate it.

Bath time

A lovely soothing warm bath can often ease the pain of trapped wind for babies. Just make sure that the water is nice and warm and deep enough to cover their tummy. Use a bath thermometer if you are unsure of the right temperature, and please remember to NEVER EVER LEAVE A BABY UNATTENDED IN A BATH, NOT EVEN FOR A SECOND!!! If the phone rings or the doorbell goes, ignore it and look after the baby instead!

Baby in a bath

Extra Considerations

There are a couple of other things to consider if your baby seems to struggle with trapped wind quite frequently.

Feeding techniques

Some babies are just very fast or very hungry feeders. They want to get their food so fast that they don’t care about bringing in all the extra wind that comes with it. Until the extra air causes them pain, of course! With babies who need to slow down a little, it can be useful to split feeds into shorter periods at the breast or with the bottle. Give the baby a couple of minutes to feed to start with, then take them off the breast or remove the bottle. Give them a chance to process that they have got a little something in their tummy, as this may help them to slow the rate of feeding when you put them back on. It can also be useful to split feeds into smaller parts so that you can try and help the baby to burp in the middle of the feed, rather than at the end.

If you are bottle feeding, it may be worth looking at a different sized teat for the bottle, as some will allow the milk to flow more slowly or more quickly.

Over the counter remedies

There are three main over the counter remedies in the UK. All are suitable from birth, but they all work in a different way. It is therefore impossible to know exactly which one will work for your baby. Some will be given via a dropper before a feed, others can be mixed in with artificial milk and others are given on a sterilised spoon before a feed. Do head to and look at the options and reviews for each product and see what you think.



Gripe water


A word about Colic

Some babies develop colic from very early on. This is a sustained pattern of distress usually in the early to late evening, which happens every day for several weeks. It can be extremely distressing as you can’t figure out what to do to help soothe your baby. For support when your baby just won’t stop crying or settle, visit the UK charity Cry-sis website.

Further sources of support can be found on the Useful Links page

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Newborn Care

Newborn Jaundice

What it is, why it happens and how to treat it at home

Have you ever noticed how newborn babies often have a really healthy glowing tan? It’s as if they went on holiday to the south of France without you before they arrived. This glowing tan is often a sign of jaundice and whilst jaundice in adults is a sign of ill-health, in newborn babies it is very normal.

Ok. Are you ready for the science?

Cast your mind back to those school day science lessons. While the dreary teacher drones on in the background, you doodle love hearts and flowers in your notebook. (Just me? Oh well, never mind.)

Your teacher probably mentioned that the air that we breathe is made up of lots of gases. Oxygen is the essential one that we all need to provide energy for all our cells and organs. Air has about 21% oxygen in it. This is a perfect amount for our bodies to function well.

So, pregnant women breathe that 21% oxygen and the oxygen is absorbed by their bloodstream which then delivers the oxygen to all their organs. Because of that, by the time the blood reaches the placenta, it has about 16% oxygen in it. The placenta is where the oxygen in the mother’s blood gets passed over to the baby for him or her to use to power their own cells and organs.

Babies handle this lower level of oxygen really well because they have unique red blood cells with fetal haemoglobin molecules. Don’t worry, I’m not going to start an in-depth atom by atom description of haemoglobin. All you need to know is that fetal haemoglobin molecules are extra sticky when it comes to oxygen. That means that although there is only 16% oxygen passing over to the baby, the baby picks up all of it. They can make it work just as well as we do with our 21%.

What happens once a baby is born

As babies are born, they begin to breathe the air around them. They can use the 21% oxygen in that normal air, rather than relying on the oxygen in the bloodstream of their mum. This means they don’t need that extra sticky type of haemoglobin molecule. Because of that, their body starts to change from using fetal haemoglobin to creating adult haemoglobin molecules.

Being excellent at recycling from the start, their bodies break down the fetal haemoglobin into its various parts like iron and lots of proteins. Most of these parts are reused by the baby to create adult haemoglobin molecules. However, there is one part which is not reused, the yellow pigment called Bilirubin.


Bilirubin is the cause of babies’ yellow skin. As the baby doesn’t need it, it gets rid of it. Some of the bilirubin will come out in the baby’s nappy. You may have noticed the transition in colour of your baby’s poo from sticky black tar, through various mixes of brown and green and on to a chicken korma or mustard-like colour. You can take this change as a very good sign that your baby is feeding well and adapting perfectly to life outside the womb.

The tan on your baby’s face, torso, and even limbs is caused by extra bilirubin that hasn’t exited via their nappy. You can tell if it is jaundice by pressing lightly on their nose. As you release the pressure the skin underneath will show the yellow more clearly.

As I’ve already said, jaundice is a normal reaction to being born, so in the majority of babies, it is nothing to be worried about. However, sometimes bilirubin levels can rise to such an extent that they can cause the baby problems.

When jaundice is a problem

Babies who are struggling to get rid of the bilirubin levels in their body can start to seem extra sleepy or lethargic. They often aren’t pooing or still have dark poos rather than yellow ones. They may not seem all that interested in eating and you may have trouble waking them up enough to feed.

If your baby has any of these symptoms, please contact your midwife or GP as soon as possible

Very few babies need extra treatment to help them reduce their bilirubin levels. The usual treatment is phototherapy, where they get to lie under a mattress which gives out UV light. You may have seen photos of this or noticed babies on the TV having this treatment. They are surrounded by a blue light source and often wear cute little sunglasses! The UV light helps to break down the bilirubin lying under the skin. Once it is broken down, the baby can poo it out.

Treating Jaundice at home

The good news is that just two minor alterations in your baby’s routine can reduce the risk of him or her needing hospital treatment.

First of all, make sure your baby is feeding regularly. As they feed, their body will move the bilirubin out of their system with the waste products. You’ll see it in the nappy!

Secondly, keep your baby in bright rooms during daylight hours. Natural daylight contains UV light, so you have your own free source of phototherapy! If you set the baby’s cot, pram or Moses basket next to a window, the daylight will help break down the bilirubin under the baby’s skin. Please don’t think that it needs to be direct sunlight as too much direct sunlight may cause the baby to overheat. We also live in the UK, where actual sunlight isn’t always available! Don’t worry, just keeping little one near the window will make a difference.

The key is to avoid putting your baby in a dark inner corner of the room far from the windows. You also don’t need to expose lots of the baby’s skin to the daylight. Their face will be enough surface area if it is cold, although if it is warm you can certainly take off their baby grow. Leave them with their vest on and arms out, but put a blanket over their bodies to keep them cosy.

So there you have it. A simple explanation of newborn jaundice and how to treat it yourself so that you don’t need to go back into hospital.

For more information on Jaundice, you can visit the NHS website here

You can also find information on charities and organisations which can help you with feeding problems on my useful links page.


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