Ok, so I know this is a controversial topic; however, this is something that is important to me. I nursed A until she self-weaned around 13 months. I plan to do the same with Baby E. Since we had weight gaining concerns with A, I thought I would get a jump start on writing, reading, and discussing ways to increase my breast milk supply. There are many things I learned that I definitely didn't know before she was born. Many of them helped me. There are also things that I did in the beginning (or lack of doing) that I will change. I thought a simple reminder post for when/if these moments hit would be a great support and help during that time.
One of the things I will do differently this time is start pumping sooner and more consistently. With A, I never had to return to work and the small amount of work that I did I was able to pick and choose when I did it. So I never had to worry over it. By the time I started doing this work, A was already on solids and about 7 months old. By this time, preparing a supply of breastmilk in the freezer wasn't going to happen. Not at a fast and steady rate. She was already nursing much less, sleeping through the night, and I was enjoying the sleep. So this go around, I plan to start pumping immediately - even if I am not getting anything right away. It will help me build and maintain a schedule so when I have to return to work in November for 16 weeks full time (and baby will be 9 months), I will have a good supply and a steady pumping routine - hopefully.
It is known that breastfeeding is hard and it takes work to have to build a supply if you need to return to work or leave your baby with someone for several hours a week. With pumping, it is not as effective as the baby actually latching on to you during skin to skin. A pump can not successfully empty your boobs like a baby can. With that said, there are some tips and advice that I have been given that can help you maintain a healthy flow of breast milk.
Here are some natural ways to build your milk supply:
* Many of these can also be used even if you need a boost for skin to skin nursing.
1. Water. Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated while nursing is an important factor. I was advised to sit down with a glass of water every single time I nursed to guarantee that I was drinking enough. I definitely saw a difference. I thought I was drinking enough before because I always had a water bottle full with me but I guess I wasn't going through it fast enough. Rule of thumb - drink more water!
2. Eat. Now I know this one sounds silly and it was natural for me with A. I was always hungry - actually more so than when I was pregnant. But I learned quickly that dieting and even exercising can decrease your milk supply. Make sure you are eating healthy calories and often enough.
3. Oats. This is one that I discovered after some research when we started having the "weight gaining concerns". The lactation consultant told me to eat oatmeal every morning and see if I saw a difference. I definitely DID! Oatmeal isn't the only way, oat based granola bars would work, too. There is even a recipe for special oatmeal cookies that are called Lactation Cookies! Want the recipe?
4. Skin to Skin. Spending extra time just cuddling your baby while topless and baby is naked is a great way to help boost your supply. It reminds your body that it has a baby to feed!
5. Pump. Pumping has been proven to help boost milk supply even when it is unnecessary for one to pump. Try pumping for 10-15 minutes after every feed or try pumping in between feeding sessions.
6. Fenugreek. Fenugreek is a natural herb supplement that has been known to help boost a mother's milk supply. This is another one that I did and I noticed an immediate difference. I will leave you with a few links to what it is and how it helps. Check out Breastfeeding.com, Medela, and Breastfeeding Online.
7. Eat plenty of these: Asparagus, Green beans, Carrots (especially carrot seeds), Yam, Watercress, Sweet potatoes, Dandelion greens, Peas, Beet and all other green leafy vegetables. Parsley, fennel, and sesame seed. Millet, barley, brown rice and all other grains and legumes. Oatmeal. Garlic, onion and ginger.
8. Nurse in bed. Lying down in bed may help you relax and allows baby to nurse for longer periods of time.
9. Mother's Milk Tea. Try drinking mother's milk tea. It is full of natural supplements to help boost your breast milk supply. I did try this with A, and I found it absolutely gross to drink. However, I would heat apple juice instead of water and it was much, much better.
I wish I could think of a 10th one because I really hate odd numbers; however, I think I have covered most of what I have learned throughout my first journey of breastfeeding. The only other tip that I have been mentioned is ask for a prescription of Reglan, but I know nothing about it and have not tried it myself.