When my daughter was born she was Jaundice, most babies are to some degree, but we ran into a more serious situation. Her levels were high, and she and I are different blood types so my antibodies were attacking her red blood cells, making it difficult for her to recover. For her first week home, we had to increase her vitamin D by keeping her on a light blanket called a Billie blanket and we had to increase her fluid intake to flush the Jaundice from her system. For any parent, this would be stressful, but being a new mom and having to figure out breastfeeding fast was just a mess. I met with a lactation consultant and she helped us figure out how to latch properly, gave me an SNS tube to supplement with until my milk came in and with her help I was able to jump start my milk production and get my baby healthy.
I’m not one of the lucky overproducers but by following these few tricks I’ve been able to keep up with my baby’s demands and over the span of 3 months I have pumped and frozen 500 ounces of milk for when I go back to work.
- If you have access to a lactation consultant take advantage of it, they are such a huge help. I can’t tell you how many women have told me they gave up on breastfeeding because they felt they just weren’t producing enough, and honestly, I would have done the same if it weren’t for the help I received. Let’s face it, it is impossible to know how much your baby is getting when you breastfeed so it is easy to assume that you might not be producing enough milk. But if you meet with a lactation consultant they can tell you exactly how much your baby is eating by weighing them before and then after you feed them. This was such a relief to know first how much she should be eating and second how much she was getting from each breast. Plus the consultants are a wealth of knowledge and can help you increase your supply if you’re underproducing and help you manage your supply if you are overproducing.
- Pump- I started out by pumping for 15 minutes, 30 minutes after every feeding for the first couple of weeks we were home. During these pumping sessions, I would not get a whole lot of milk but that was ok because the goal was to imitate a cluster feed so my body would start to produce more milk. How much you produce is strictly supply and demand. Pumping after feeding will trick your body into thinking there is a higher demand and you will start to produce more. After a couple of weeks, at the advice of my consultant, I switched from 30 minutes to pumping 1 hour after each feeding this is when I started to see 2 to 3 ounces when I pumped. The only time I broke from this schedule was when my little one was going through a growth spurt and was “cluster feeding”. During those times I would feed her as she needed, which was practically every hour, and once she was done I would go back to the pumping schedule. (Cluster feeding is the natural way your baby lets your body know it needs to produce more milk.) After about six weeks I slowed to pumping only 2 times a day in addition to her normal feeding schedule while I was home. Once back at work I pumped every 2-3 hours never going longer than 3 hours and I would pump about 6 ounces. My “magic hour” when my hormones were highest was unfortunately around 3 am. Our little one started sleeping through the night very early on but I would have to pump after about 6 hours. My early 3 am pumps would yield almost 10 ounces! Hormones are usually higher in the morning since you’ve been sleeping and your body is at rest so it is normal to produce more earlier in the day. Figure out when your “magic hour” is and utilize it. (I hope it’s not at 3 am like mine)
- Supplements- Motherlove More Milk Plus is a supplement containing fenugreek seed, blessed thistle herb, nettle leaf, and fennel seed. My lactation consultant suggested I start taking 2 capsules 3 times a day. Following her suggestion, I saw a significant increase in my production one week after I started taking them. Continue taking these as long as you are breastfeeding. If you stop or lower the dosage there’s a good chance you’ll see a dip in your supply. You can get them at Sprouts or online. I found the best price on eBay at $20 for 120 capsules.
- Lactation cookies- There are a ton of recipes online but essentially you want to make sure that the lactation cookies or bars contain these three ingredients, whole oats, brewers yeast, and flax seed. These are all great for boosting your milk supply. Scroll down to the bottom for my favorite recipe. It makes a ton of dough that you can ball and freeze for later.
- Try to eat as many milk boosting foods as possible. Spinach, almonds, oatmeal, carrots, brown rice, and flax seeds became a staple in my meals. Drink lots of water and stay away from overly processed foods.
Most importantly be patient with yourself and know that if you do have to supplement with formula to help your baby put on the proper weight it’s ok. The first few weeks of your little ones life is stressful for everyone. Hormones are a hot mess, you’re sleep deprived and you and baby are trying to figure things out and get to know each other. Be kind to yourself, it’s so easy to be upset and frustrated because things aren’t what you imagined and it’s all very emotional, but at the end of the day formula or breastmilk you are a great mom and are doing a great job.