More Ways to Increase Your Milk Supply
My five-month-old daughter is a sporadic eater. Some days, she wants to eat every hour, for an hour at a time, and I can’t make enough milk to keep her satisfied. Other days, she’s on a nice every three or four hour schedule. On those days, I keep walking into stuff with my boobs because I forget how big they’ve gotten, engorged with milk. (I was a small B-cup before pregnancy, and I really sympathize with large-chested women now!)
I didn’t have much luck with a breast pump. I purchased a decent, mid-priced, multi-speed electric. It doesn’t work for me, but since I work at home, I couldn’t justify spending more to get a better pump for the handful of times I might use it. I really don’t mind the engorgement; I like knowing I have milk available in case my daughter wants it!
However, if I could pump, my supply would probably be more steady. Instead, I’ve had to resort to other tactics to keep my supply up for those days when she is an insatiable eating machine.
Here are my best tips for increasing your milk production.
- Pump or nurse a lot. When I first started nursing, I also had issues with my milk supply. My pediatrician recommended supplementing with formula, which turned out to be counterintuitive. I increased my supply simply by letting my daughter nurse A LOT. I used olive oil or Lansinoh on my nipples to prevent soreness.
- Relax. A few weeks ago, every magazine I write for was on deadline, clients were slow to pay, and I was stressing big time. My milk production dropped—at an inopportune time, when my daughter was going through a growth spurt. Nursing moms, remember, whatever else you have going on in your life at this time, your primary job is to make milk to feed your baby. *Everything else takes a back seat.* (Well, except your other kids, if you have them, of course). I can’t stress this enough. The second I made my deadlines and got some money in my bank account, my milk production increased again. But I made the mistake of letting outside stressors get to me. Meditate, exercise, take deep breaths, soak in a tub, take a few hours and spend some time with your friends. Whatever you need to do to relax, do it! You owe it to yourself and your baby.
- Stay hydrated – I notice my supply drop slightly if I don’t stay hydrated. The recommended amount is 8 glasses—that’s 64 oz., or a half gallon—of water a day.
- Oatmeal – When my milk production dropped last time, I realized I had switched from having oatmeal every morning for breakfast to eating whole-grain waffles. Again, no one knows why it works, but steel cut oats (not that fake instant oatmeal) supposedly increases milk production. I’m back to oatmeal and I’m back to a good supply.
- Fenugreek – This herbal supplement has been used for thousands of years to help nursing mothers produce more milk. You should take approximately three 590 – 610 mg. capsules three times a day, or until your sweat and urine begin to smell like maple syrup. Do not use Fenugreek if you are pregnant. Read more about this powerful herb.
- Blessed Thistle – This is supposed to work in combination with Fenugreek to increase milk supply. I had success with Fenugreek alone, so I haven’t tried Blessed Thistle. Read more about it.
- Eat enough. Nursing moms need 500 calories above their recommended usual caloric intake. While it’s nice to treat yourself to dessert every once in a while and not have to worry about it going straight to your hips, try to get those extra calories from healthy foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and a tiny bit of extra protein. Remember, if you exercise, you need to take in those calories you burned PLUS an extra 500.
Nursing moms, what tips did I forget? What worked to increase your milk production?