I'm not sure that there would be many of us who never questioned or doubted our supply of breast milk somewhere along our breastfeeding journey. For me it was obvious in the start that I had a great supply, with a forceful let down that would let rip even if I heard what I thought was a baby crying - seriously though - sometimes it was just the cat meowing... But as my supply regulated and boobs were no longer the fabulous looking engorged beasts they had once become, it did cross my mind as to whether I was still producing enough for my little guy.
From the onset I fed on demand, allowed 'comfort feeding' and breast fed him to sleep. It worked, he was happy I was happy and it kept up my supply quite nicely. That didn't last forever of course - he grew out of the forever on the boob, wanting to feed till he he was in a milk coma stage and had better things to see and do! During the 14 months I breastfed him for, we went through the 'distractable stage', the refusal stage - the ONE SIDE refusal stage, the I can't sit still so I'm going to cartwheel on your boob stage - growth spurts - developmental leaps and of course back to the steady, happy to feed stages in between - phew!
During all these stages or phases it is important to remain patient, follow bub's lead to avoid frustration - they will eat when hungry! Just be aware this may be in the middle of the night - doh! To maintain supply and keep yourself comfortable be sure to express what your baby would normally feed but isn't during these times. This is particularly important if you have worked hard to build that supply in the first place! Remember - breast milk is produced on the basis of demand. If it doesn't leave your body, your body won't continue to make the unused amount - or have room to refill it!
Low supply is a real factor that affects many mums for different reasons; insufficient glandular tissue, poor latch, tongue/lip tie/high palate, hormonal or endocrine problems, previous breast surgery, using hormonal birth control, taking certain medications or herbs, not feeding around the clock, scheduled feedings and/or using a pacifier (which can sometimes mask babies hunger leading to missed cues), birth medications, jaundice, dehydration, sleep deprivation and stress - just to name a few! Breastfeeding is 90% dedication & 10% milk production!
Here are a few tips that I personally found useful if I was feeling a little 'empty' - and some have been tried and found useful by other mums. I hope there are a few wee gems in there for you too!
10 Top Tips To Increase Breast Milk Supply:
- Keeping hydrated and nourished is so important, loads of water and keep up the calorie intake - on average 500 cal more per day!
- Feed, feed, feed. Be sure to feed baby on demand - it will feel like A LOT in the beginning but trust me it does lessen - and quick! Forget feeding schedules and feed whenever baby wants
- Express for 20 min (10 min each boob), 20 min after breastfeeding. The more you drain your breasts the more milk you will produce. Continue the pumping time even if your milk has stopped flowing - this cues your body to make more
- Use of a good breast pump is so incredibly important when pumping, our Milkbar Advanced Flow Breast Pump. drains the breast correctly, resulting in more output and therefore more input by your body, they have been helping so many of our mamas sustain their breastfeeding journeys
- If you feed your baby a bottle of breast milk or formula in place of a breastfeed, make sure you pump at that feed time
- Fenugreek and blessed thistle tablets are known to help increase supply
- Eat tonnes of oats, drink nursing tea and use fennel and garlic in cooking - try the scrummy recipe below! Opt for dates and nuts for snacks
- LOADS of skin to skin contact with baby, feeding skin to skin where possible
- Lactation cookies (Milk & Cookies NZ do delicious ones!)
- 0% al/vol beer can help supply!
Fennel + Garlic Recipe To Try!
80 ml (⅓ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
1 kg roasting potatoes, scrubbed, cut into wedges
4 baby fennel bulbs, quartered, fronds reserved
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lemon, cut into thin wedges
1 tbsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
Preheat oven to 180C. Heat oil in a large roasting tray in the oven. Combine remaining ingredients and scatter into tray (be careful as hot oil may spit), season to taste and roast, stirring occasionally, until golden and cooked through (40-50 minutes). Scatter with reserved fronds and serve hot.
This recipe is from the April 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller
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