I am not the type of person that breastfeeding comes easily to. In fact, with my first two children I did not get to solely breastfeed like I planned to. My first was failure to thrive so we supplemented and then I got pregnant right away and there went what little supply I had. My second child I did a bit better but he was still about 40% formula fed. Breastfeeding is something that I’ve always planned on doing. I know that “breast is best” as they say and I wanted to give my kids that. Not to mention how much I had to spend in formula! My goodness, it’s expensive.
Therefore when baby #3 was still cooking, I was researching my heart out on ways to make breastfeeding successful this time. Imagine my surprise, when 4 days after she was born, she had already re-gained her birth weight! Wow! Here was my chance to exclusively breastfeed a baby! Then on day 8 things changed. She had suddenly lost weight. Not good. As far as we can tell, it probably had something to do with the stress of moving. (That’s right, we moved when the baby was only a week old. Add two crazy older brothers and the stress was sure to kill my supply)
The weight loss sent me back to all my research, along with a few visits to the lactation consultant. I would not let this happen again! Especially since the baby had started out so well with breastfeeding. Don’t give me that false hope. So I tried all the ways to increase milk supply. By day 15, she was back to gaining weight like she should. Success! Of course, I’ll never truly know if it was something I did, a combination of things I did, or if it was just time and de-stressing.
However, for those out there researching or those who are just curious, here’s 15 ways to increase milk supply.
15 Ways to Increase Milk Supply
Nurse frequently – that’s every 1.5- 2 hours. Prepare for exhaustion!
Offer both sides.
“Switch Nurse” – I did this without realizing that it was a way to help. Basically, if baby gets sleepy or goes to comfort nursing, switch sides. Switch sides so that you are offering each breast 2 times per feeding. It’s a pain but that’s how my daughter seems to nurse best…since she’s a sleepy baby when eating.
Avoid pacifiers and bottles. – Sucking needs should be met by breastfeeding. You don’t want to plug the paci in when baby really should be eating.
Avoid anything but breast milk. – Obviously if baby is in serious need of calories then there might be no alternative but to give formula. Just remember that to keep supply up you need to either breastfed baby before that bottle of formula or pump as often as you would breastfed.
Take care of yourself – Relax, eat well, drink plenty, and sleep. (well, try to sleep.)
Pump – Pump after feeding. This will send a message that more milk needs to be made because baby aka the pump is still eating.
Power Pump – This involves pumping for 10 minutes, stopping for 10 minutes, and repeat for 1 hour. I found this to be more beneficial for me as I didn’t have time to pump after many feedings, plus I produced more milk with power pumping.
Oatmeal – Not scientifically proven but many moms swear by it. Eat a bowl of oatmeal every day. Not that into plain oatmeal? I can’t stand it, so I went for Oatmeal cookies. There are hundreds of “Lactation Cookie” recipes out there.
Mother’s Milk Tea – Has a combination of herbs that are supposed to increase supply. Tastes like licorice though and you need to drink about 3-5 cups a day.
Fenugreek – The traditional recommendation for low supply. Comes in pill form or you can buy the real stuff. You know you’ve taken enough when you start to smell like maple syrup. Yum!
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea – I love this stuff. I started drinking it during pregnancy to have an easier labor and postpartum bleeding. I am still drinking it because it also supposedly helps with milk supply.
Placenta Encapsulation – If you are pre-emotively preparing for a low supply, then you’ll want to look into placenta encapsulation. Not only do placenta pills help your bounce back after delivery quicker, help keep away PPD, increase iron levels, but it can help with your milk supply.
More Milk Special Blend (or any of the “More Milk” blends from Motherlove) – I did not try this one but I’ve heard it highly recommended. It’s pricey and harder to find, which is why I was holding off and was going to use it as my last resort.
Kellymom.com – Ok it’s not necessarily a way to increase supply but it’s a great resource on the many ways to increase your supply, along with great information on all things relating to breastfeeding.
Of course as with all things medical, make sure you are in contact with your doctor (or in this case even a lactation consultant) if your milk supply is affecting baby’s weight gain. You want to be doing weight checks to make sure baby is not losing weight or in need of supplementation.