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.
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