Monday, January 27, 2014

Increasing a Low Milk Supply

When I first started nursing, I had a major overabundance in milk supply. I had crazy engorgement issues & cold easily pump 5-6 oz (or more) any time I pumped.  I took a great supply for granted in those early days.


Eventually my supply evened out and adapted to his needs. When Jase moved to a 4 hour schedule & started teething (& didn’t want to eat because his teeth hurt), my milk supply dropped. I remember one night we were out of town & I really thought we were going to have to buy formula to supplement because I couldn’t pump ANYTHING & he was so frustrated he kept pulling off. (Turns out I was dehydrated…chugged a few bottles of water and instantly started pumping some of that liquid gold!!) 

Since then I have had times where my supply is fine, and other times where I really have worked hard to get it back up & maintain it. One of my best friends is also nursing and has spent lots of time on the phone with a lactation specialist, so between both of our experiences, here are my best tips for increasing milk supply. (This is only what has worked for me. I have only nursed one baby, and we are going on about 9 months…so I am certainly not an expert.)

*Mother’s Milk/Lactation Tea: I make a pitcher of tea every couple of days and store it in the frig. I drink 1-3 glasses a day. I do not sweeten it, and although I typically prefer to drink hot tea, the lactation specialist said it seems to work better cold. (You can order both types off Amazon.)

Organic Mother's Milk® Tea <p><b>From the Manufacturer's Label: </p></b><p>Caffeine Free</p>  <p>Promotes Healthy Lactation**</p>  <p>A pleasantly aromatic balance of sweet, spicy and slightly bitter</p>    <p>Organic Mother’s Milk promotes healthy lactation and is traditionally used to increase breast milk production.** This traditional combination of anise, fennel and coriander has been used for centuries by EuropeaLactation Support SystemSupport Herbal Tea

*More Milk Plus by Mother Love: (I get it on Amazon or at Walgreen’s – it’s with the baby formula.) I take this in lieu of Fenugreek. My best advice here is follow the directions on the bottle, because the serving size depends on your weight. I know many lactation specialists suggest doubling up on the Fenugreek, so I assumed I could do the same with this. I weigh about 135, but I was still taking two capsules 3x a day (which is the recommended dosage for someone over 175). One nurse told us this can cause liver damage if you’re not drinking enough water, so I dropped back down to 1-2 capsules a day and make sure I am drinking plenty of water (even though the directions say avoid water 15 minutes before and after).

Motherlove More Milk Plus, Capsules

*TONS of water: When you think you’ve drank enough water, drink MORE. There have been times I have been pumping and not getting much….and can chug a big glass of water and BAM- it’s like the flood gates open.  SO cool how our bodies work! Speaking of, I limit my caffeine to one Spark a day & make sure to drink plenty of water with that. I don’t drink alcohol, coffee, or sweet tea, but if you do I suggest drinking even more water (as those can dehydrate you).

*Eat every few hours: I eat as healthy & clean as possible, but still make sure I am getting plenty of calories and healthy fats (almonds, almond butter, olive oil, avocado, etc.). I also eat every few hours. You need an extra 400-500 nutritious calories while you’re nursing, so eating frequently helps.

*Oats: My daily breakfast is 1/2 c (dry) Steel cut oats (with cinammon, honey, sliced almonds, ground flax, and chia seeds). I’ve heard lactation cookies are the bomb (there are tons of homemade recipes online), but so far I just stick with making these once a week or so: Protein Bites Made with Oats

*Low-Intensity Exercise: Exercise is important on so many levels. However, you can’t go too hard when you’re nursing. I learned that the hard way. I don’t have a whole lot of time to work out, so when I do, I make it count & get after it with HIGH INTENSITY workouts. I was getting way too lean & noticed (eventually….sheesh!) that when I work out too hard/too often, my supply takes a hit. It’s not an excuse to be totally inactive- just can’t go straight training mode. I’ve had to cut back.

*At least 6 stimulations a day. When Jase went to a 4 hour schedule, it became tougher to keep my supply up. I started pumping a couple extra times to it moving again and it totally worked. I don’t do it every day, but if I notice it starting to drop off, I’ll do it for a day or two and it picks back up.

*Pump after nursing sessions: I pump after I feed Jase in the mornings (when we tend to have the greatest supply) &  I pump at midnight every night too. This is how I’ve been able to stock up! Plus, it makes sure I totally empty each breast so they fill back up.

*Get a Quality pump: SOOOO, I do NOT like to spend money when I don’t have to. Our insurance company hooked us up with a free Ameda pump, so I used that for 8 1/2 months. One of the lactation specialists told us that pump is pretty much crap. It gets the job done, but a nice pump would express more milk in a shorter time. TRUE story!! I finally splurged and bought a nice pump (no need to be a cheap-o- it’s totally worth the investment).

*Pray: I know that might sound cheesy, but as I have grown in my prayer life, I have learned that even the seemingly “small” things are important to God. (Not that how we feed our baby is insignificant by any means...) God WANTS us to seek Him in all things, and we “have not because we ask not.” Prayer has helped big time. Not only has God been faithful to answer, but it also calms my nerves when I’ve felt stressed about supply issues.

Hope that helps someone.  I know there is so much in motherhood that can be overwhelming, & I wanted to share a few tips because this has helped me big time. Happy nursing!


Katie said...

What pump did you end up purchasing? I am 7 months and need to pick one soon!

*Butler, Party of 4* said...

The one pictured here- Medela Free Style. :) CONGRATS!!

Mary @ A Happy Wife In NOLA said...

Great advice and I'll definitely keep this on hand for when we have baby #2. I had a very difficult time breastfeeding and keeping my supply up for my little boy who is 5 months now and on formula :( Thanks for sharing!

Christi said...

Theis is great. When I suffered from low supply I was only told, pump, water and fenugreek. But it's been a decade plus 3 years. I do have to share that by my third I loved using the cheapo avent hand pump so much better than my double electric pump. I could pump each side while the baby nursed the other side. I don't know if the pump is still made but it was about $40.

Darcy said...

Love your tips, but wanted to share one as well. If you suffer from thyroid disorder do NOT take any of those teas or pills that contain fenugreek. Fenugreek will actually prevent your thyroid medicine from being absorbed and cause your supply to lower even more. I found this out the hard way after taking fenugreek for a week and a half. Motherlove has a couple different recommended products without fenugreek if you check their website.

Anonymous said...

I would love if you'd post a review of your experience with the Ameda pump vs the Medela! I'm in the same boat with getting one through insurance and really don't want to drop $250 for another one unless I know it will be worth it!

Our Little Family said...

Do not take fenugreek if you have an under active thyroid. It makes your thyroid even more under active. I learned that the hard way and having an under active thyroid makes you have a lower supply to begin with.

Emily said...

This stuff is AMAZING as well!!!! I took it after I messed up my supply and it made a huge difference. Also when I bought it the lady at the store told me a woman had come in who had completely stopped nursing for six weeks...took this...and was able to nurse again!

Emily said...

PS: I own the freestyle and LOVEEEEEE it. Best pump for sure! I've had mine 5 years and totally plan to use it for many more babies!