It’s no secret my l’il bub and I struggled with breastfeeding. You can read our nursing journey here, but basically he wasn’t getting enough breastmilk. We saw 4 lactation consultants during this time, but no one could figure out if I wasn’t making enough milk for him, or if he was inefficient at draining my breasts (causing my body to make less). I figured if I could increase my supply, it would compensate for either problem. I tried a lot of different things in the hopes of increasing supply (I ate lactation cookies for days to no avail… but hey cookies). Here are some of the things that I found useful.
*Note. Before trying to increase your supply, I highly highly recommend seeing an international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC). They are trained to spot problems in the breastfeeding relationship and their advice is invaluable. Don’t like an answer or they’re out of ideas? Get a second opinion if you can.
1. Drink more water/eat more food – How I wish this was one of the first things that I had tried. It seems so simple, yet it had never dawned on me that I wasn’t drinking enough water. We live in a 2 story townhouse, so often the idea of having to go downstairs with a sleeping or crying baby to get some water or make food was unappealing, so I’d just tough it out. Bad idea! The human body needs roughly about 8 cups of water per day to function (give or take depending on a person’s body weight, activity level, weather, etc). Production of breastmilk, which is around 90% water, naturally depends on mama’s water intake. Similarly, mama must eat enough food for herself and her body. Our bodies will typically take care of ourselves first by using nutrients from food to fuel our body, and focus on secondary tasks such as breastmilk second. So drink/eat up mama!
2. Herbs/Supplements – Again definitely check in with a lactation consultant. All the supplements in the world won’t help with a bad latch! Fenengeek, blessed thistle, and goat’s rue are all good options on herbs to help with breastfeeding. Motherlove makes a great blend of these herbs. Newer on the market are Malunggay and shatavari, which I never got a chance to try. On the note of herbs, make sure to avoid the mint family, which includes peppermint, spearmint and parsley. Kellymom has a more complete list.
3. Essential Oils – There’s an oil for everything, and nursing is no different. Basil and Sweet Fennel have been shown to increase breastmilk supply, and clary sage is often used to kickstart production in new mothers. My favorite way to use these oils is topically in a spray bottle. Take a look at my More Milk Essential Oil Spray or take a look at my doTerra Shop to purchase these oils.
4. Pump – Breast produce milk much faster when they are empty. If your baby leaves milk during a feeding, this will tell your body that the milk isn’t needed so your body will produce less. Pumping for 10-15 minutes after a feeding can help empty the breast and stimulate more production.
5. Relax – No matter how you feed baby, you are doing the best you can! Breast is best, but formula is okay too. The most important thing is feeding that baby. Once I had resigned that we would always have to supplement my son and I relaxed, I found my milk supply improved. Stress can effect milk supply, so relax mama!
Any other tips or tricks? Share in the comments below.