I’m quite certain you’re tired of hearing me say it, but as I’ve mentioned many times, I wasn’t dealt the engorged boobs or over-supply cards when it came to breastfeeding. I’ve had a minimal milk supply since Wolf was born and I’ve been supplementing at the breast using a supplemental nursing system that I wear around my neck. Yes, he’s almost 4-months-old and I’m still giving it my best go! However, now that I’ve gone back to work, I’ve noticed what little supply that I had is dwindling but that’s another story.
I thought since it seemed like I wasn’t the only one struggling with low supply, I’d put together a little list of what I’m doing to boost supply and what has worked for me. Plus, these methods are not only for ladies with low supply. They’re great for boosting any mama’s milk supply!! So, here goes!
Always offer the breast – Breast feeding and milk supply is a result of supply and demand. Constant stimulation is needed to keep up production. Even if this makes you feel like your baby is always attached to the breast, the more stimulation the better. If you find yourself having to supplement, invest in a supplemental nursing system to keep your baby at the breast. Introducing the bottle too young can cause nipple confusion, plus your baby might just enjoy the ease of the milk flow from a bottle better and start refusing to nurse.
Pumping – When the breast isn’t available, pump. In between feedings, pump. If you’ve got nothing else to do and the baby is sleeping, pump. I admit, I gave up on pumping at home a long time ago and much preferred to just offer my baby the breast. Your baby is able to stimulate your breasts to produce more milk better than a pump can. I know my baby is able to get much more from me than I’ve ever been able to pump out. Plus, having him there just felt better than that plastic shield. Now that I’m back at work, finding time during my crazy, busy work day is hard and I’ve noticed a dramatic decrease in my supply.
Galactagogues – I consider Fenugreek to be the mother of lactation herbs or galactagogues. The recommended dosage is 2-4 capsules three times a day. I take anywhere from 7 to 9 pills, three times a day and sometimes more than that. Higher dosages above may result in hypoglycemia in some mothers, so I’d suggest taking it slow by starting out with the recommended dosage and taking the pills with food. I’ll still never forget the first day that I started taking Fenugreek. We were on our way to Idaho, a long 8 hour car ride, so I’d planned on feeding Wolf from a bottle to avoid too many stops. I was so engorged by the time we got to Idaho that I put him on the breast as soon as we arrived. I’d never felt that feeling before and man did it hurt! Bonus – since Fenugreek is often used to artificially flavor maple syrup, you’ll begin to notice that your sweat smells a little like breakfast. Weird, but true!
Other galactagogues are often recommended for increasing milk supply such as Blessed Thistle, Goat’s Rue, Saw Palmetto and Fennel. I also take a tincture called More Milk Plus and have found it to be great.
Eat & drink right – Nosh on foods that are rich in protein and calcium. Some foods such as oatmeal and avocado are considered galactagogues and have been proven to increase supply. I’ve been eating oatmeal almost every morning and while I can’t pinpoint it to be the a soul boost to my supply, I believe it to work. I’ve also heard that Guinness has been used traditionally to help bring in the milk. It’s been said that a small glass of Guinness can work wonders in relaxing the mother and providing the necessary ingredients to get your milk flowing. Also make sure to drink at least 64oz of water a day. Not only does being dehydrated contribute to low supply but breastfeeding makes you super thirsty!
When used in combination, all of these things listed above have been proven to boost my supply. On day 5 of Wolf’s life I began the cycle of nursing and pumping along with taking my galactagogues and eating right. When he was around two-months-old, I was able to satisfy him completely with just the breast during his first feeding of the day. Since he’s bigger now and I’ve gone back to work, sadly I’m no longer able to do that but I’m still supplementing at the breast as long as possible. As I’ve said before, I figure as long as he’s getting some milk from me, the better.