Got Milk?

I am so thankful that I have had really good breastfeeding experiences with my girls. I was able to breastfeed Abigail for just over 10 months until the morning sickness with Susanna got so bad that my milk dried up. I know so many women who didn’t get so “lucky”. When Abigail was born, she latched right away and my milk came in a few days after she was born and all was great until a few months in. About twelve weeks postpartum, I started going to bootcamp to get back to my pre-pregnancy self. Soon after that, my mum was briefly hospitalized and Abigail started waking up in middle of the night. I don’t want to brag, but Abigail was sleeping through the night when she was 2 months old, so when she stopped, I was NOT pleased! I couldn’t figure out what was going on for a few weeks until I tried pumping because I was going to leave her with my husband for a few hours. When I pumped I wasn’t able to get more than a few drops of milk! Naturally I freaked out-I’m pretty sure I cried! No wonder I had a cranky baby, no wonder she was waking up throughout the night! She was starving!!!  The stress of my mother’s hospitalization and the excessive exercise had destroyed my milk supply!

I starting doing a ton of research to help increase my milk supply and I want to share with our readers what I learned. There are several different ways to increase your milk supply, but I’ll share with you the methods that I tried.

abigail-062

1. Mother’s Milk Tea-I used Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic MilkMaid Tea. This worked ok, I would drink several cups a day and it did increase my supply by a couple ounces within 24 hours, but my supply was inconsistent, and the tea is pretty pricey.

2. Fenugreek Pills-these worked really well for me. Some women don’t find a huge increase in their supply or get an inconsistent milk supply with fenugreek. The important thing to know with fenugreek is that you can’t start taking the pills and then stop cold turkey once your supply has increased. You will lose your milk supply almost instantly if you abruptly stop the pills. Once your supply has increased, you need to wean yourself off fenugreek slowly. I think I took a week or so to slowly wean myself off the pills. I have also heard of some women who have tried sprouting fenugreek at home and that form of the herb seemed to work better for them. If I have any milk supply issues I may try sprouting fenugreek as I’ve recently become obsessed with sprouting!

3. Hemp Hearts-my Mum stayed with us for 2 weeks after Susanna was born and was doing a lot of yummy baking for us. She was adding hemp hearts to cookies, oatmeal and muffins and when I looked up to check if it was ok to eat hemp hearts while breastfeeding, I found tons of literature that said that hemp hearts actually increase your milk supply. I attribute the hemp to my ridiculous milk supply this time around. Susanna will have a normal feed and I can still pump 4-5 ounces of milk after she’s done nursing!  YAHOO!

4. Sleep-Easier said than done with a new baby, but if you can get some help, try to rest or nap as much as you can, especially in the early weeks! With rest, your body has more energy to make more milk!

5. Good Diet-the better you eat, the better your milk supply will be! Make sure you are eating properly (Thanks Mum, I miss you and your mad cooking skills!!) and often if you want to give your babe some nice fatty milk! I’ve also read that if your iron is low your milk supply will be affected. I don’t eat meat, but if you do make sure you’re eating enough red meat or spinach (if you’re a vegetarian) to increase your iron stores. If you’re not a spinach or meat fan, word on the street is that mini-wheats have a ton of iron in them! Who knew??!!  It’s also crucial to stay hydrated! It takes liquid to make liquid right? Try to drink at least one glass of water during each feed (P.S. I suck at staying hydrated, but when I make a conscious effort to drink, my milk is so much more abundant!)

6. Pump like crazy-this is the most important piece of advice I can give you!  Apparently the receptors for making milk in your brain are made within the first two weeks of your baby’s life. The more you pump or keep your baby at your breast in those early weeks, the better chance you have at protecting your supply. In the first few days before your milk comes in, allow your baby to nurse as much as possible. I know it’s hard because usually baby is very lethargic and let’s face it, you’ve just delivered a baby and all you want to do is sleep, but trust me, if you allow your baby to nurse as much as possible during those first few days, your milk will come in faster and you’ll have more to offer your little one! After your milk comes in, make sure your baby is at your breast as much as possible. If baby isn’t latching properly, PUMP! It’s so important to protect and build up your milk supply in those first few weeks of baby’s life!

Well, that’s all the advice that I have. Anyone else have any tips for increasing your milk supply? We’d love to hear them!

http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca is a great resource !

Written by Andrea

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11 thoughts on “Got Milk?

  1. Love this post! I have spent the last 6 months trying to get my milk supply up basically since the day my daughter was born. She was born with a tongue tie that wasn’t diagnosed and that led to many problems with breastfeeding and milk supply. She couldn’t latch properly and therefore didn’t stimulate my breast to produce enough milk. In total since she was born I have seen 8 nurses, 2 pediatricians, 3 OBGYNs, 3 lactations consultants, 1 GP, and 2 breastfeeding specialists. I attribute my ability to breastfeeding to the last breastfeeding specialist I saw, she picked up on the tongue tie and we got her clipped and worked on getting my milk up!

    Yes to everything Andrea said! Did those things and they helped.
    To add or emphasis…

    Yes to the Pump!: I was told to pump for 10 minutes a side after every feed. If you are ambitious pump an hour after you feed too. It tells your body you need to make more milk! It is awesome cause your baby gets the liquid Gold, you get a great milk supply which you will be thankful for, and your freezer will be full for future date nights!! If you are having issues invest in a good pump, you dont want to be stuck with a manual pump and hand cramp! PS. if you dont buy the pump you might end up spending the money elsewhere anyways..like on formula….I think it worth it!

    Domperidone: I know this is green blog, but if the fenugreek doesn’t work get a prescription for this. It is a digestive aid that has a side effect of…you got it…MORE MILK! I started at 4 a day and was eventually bumped up to 8 a day. Again once you milk is up dont just ditch it, stabilize your milk supply and then wean slowly. Like 2 weeks of gradual decreases.

    Skin to skin: Yay a fun one! Your naked skin on your baby’s! I hated wearing anything on top at the beginning cause I was torn to shreds anyways so this wasn’t an issue for me. Get your baby in just a diaper and cuddle. Enjoy staring at them and memorize all their little features. I was supposed to do 30 minutes after every feed ( after the 10 minutes of pumping). I literally didn’t get off the couch, and got nothing done! But I did get a cuddley wrap ( like moby wrap) and I would wrap her up and do housework…topless! haha

    A breastfeeding pillow, and a good chair: Be comfortable, babies know if you are tense or straining and then they dont feed as well. So be comfortable. The better they feed the better they stimulate you milk supply!

    Eat, Drink, and Sleep!; Forget the house work, the dinner, and the diet. Drink tons of water, it will help get the swelling down too! Eat, you must eat. Forget dropping the lbs for now. And house work will always be there! Consider the first month a write off! Focus on establishing breastfeeding and getting your milk supply established! You will give your baby the best nourishment, and save a ton of money.

    Now with this all said. After 3 months of intense breastfeeding struggles and trying all of these things my milk supply was still not enough. So the specialist said. Do what you can, breastfeed her first, offer a bottle of formula and get back to your life. So I do have to top up with formula, but I am just happy I can breastfeed for the most part. Formula is NOT posion, breastmilk is better ( we all know that, it is on every formula can haunting me! ahah) but you gotta do what you gotta do!

  2. PS.Oh and a statistic for you! The specialist told me that only 5% of women can actually not produce enough milk to satisfy their baby! So that is hope for the other 95% of women out there, it just takes determination and some hard work!

    • Thanks so much for the extra tips Jessica!! I love your point about formula! I had to give formula to Abby once while I was trying to get my supply up after I started bootcamp and I remember telling Matt not to tell anyone because I felt so ashamed of myself. I felt like I had totally failed as a mother!! Looking back, I realize how silly that is and when I got pregnant and had to go back to formula I tried to stop myself from feeling that way again!!

      Oh and thanks for that stat! I had no idea that the percentage was so low!! You’re definitely a bf expert-you’ll be a great help to many ladies in the future!! You are a TRUE inspiration to all of us!
      ~Andrea

      • Isn’t it funny how there is such a stigma against formula. I remember the first time I gave her formula I was so upset. I couldn’t pump another drop, and my nipples were bleeding so much when she fed she would spit up blood. We finally “gave in” cause we knew she was hungry. In hindsight I think…Oh brother you ding dong! Formula is fine, they make it as close to breast milk as they can. I will always prefer to breastfeed, not just for the nourishment but also for the experience. BUT people have their reasons to formula feed and I can not judge that. I was so close to giving up so many times I understand why bottle feeding is attractive. I had a good friend tell me in the thick of my breastfeeding issues that in the end feed them formula or breastmilk and they will turn out just fine. Just enjoy the bonding time you have with them feeding all cuddled up in your arms 🙂 So true….now Engie just wants to get moving she has no time cuddling anymore!

  3. Hey Andrea…. Awesome post…..thanks for sharing:) What worked best for my milk supply was marshmellow root and red raspberry….;)
    Ashley

  4. Thanks, Andrea. Very useful post. Just wanted to note that its absolutely normal to have issues with milk at about three month or at different times depending on a specific mother, but it does not mean that something has to be done necessarily or that baby is even hungry, often its just the feeling that there is not enough milk, but it has nothing to do with reality, and not being able to pump a drop does not really tell you much because in many women milk is being produced as the baby is sucking, and pumping is very much different. This was my case, i decided to pump just out of curiousity when my son was 3 month old and could not pump anything, but he breastfed just fine and gained weight like crazy, so my milk was fine in fact. What i know from bf consultants i talked to that the only 2 objective tests for having enough milk is first normal weight gain and second enough peeing (as far as i remember a small baby should pee 8 times or more a day). If your baby gains weight and pees enough you’ve got enough milk and don’t worry how it feels, or whether you can pump anything

    • Thanks for your response Ana!
      You’re absolutely right! My daughter’s diapers did not need to be changed nearly as often during this time and when I started working on my milk supply, she started sleeping again and was no longer fussy, so in my case it seemed like my milk supply was an issue.

      I know a lot of women feel like they aren’t making enough milk if they can’t pump or don’t feel full, and I know this isn’t always the case, but based on my baby’s cues I definitely had a milk supply issue.

      You did raise some very important points though! Thank so much for reading and commenting!

      ~Andrea

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