Tuesday, February 11, 2020

8 Ways To Increase Your Breast Milk Supply

I went from producing only 1 ml of colostrum per day to exclusively breastfeeding.

As a first time mom, I had high hopes to exclusively breastfeed my baby. Imagine my worry when it was Day 5 postpartum and my milk still hadn't come in! My baby was a hungry baby who loves to eat from Day 1. The midwives had helped me start to mix-feed my baby with formula. But it is of my personal opinion and decision to aim to provide breast milk for my baby as I believe it is what is best for her.

Nobody ever really talked to me about how breastfeeding isn't always "natural" and sometimes the journey is actually a struggle. But I was determined to fight for it. I wasn't giving up just yet. People had mixed feedback. When I mention that it is Day 5 and my milk still hadn't come in, people (health care practitioners and mothers alike) would either A - roll their eyes and tell me to "let nature take its toll and it will come in, just wait" or B - give me large worried eyes and either tell me (or quietly think) that "Oh. Well... not everyone has milk supply. You can formula feed." Neither responses really helped me. So I chose to ignore them all and focus on doing everything I could to improve my breast milk supply. I was going to fight for my baby.



And let me tell you mamas, HARD WORK PAYS OFF! But first, a disclaimer: I AM NOT AN EXPERT and am simply sharing what worked for me. Always consult with your physician or lactation consultant. Many of these things I learned from a fellow mama (thanks, Anna!) and I can only hope that what worked for me will work for you too. Here are 8 tips on how to improve your breast milk supply:

1. Let your baby latch on as often as possible.
Allowing your baby to breastfeed as frequently as possible will tell your body to produce more milk for your baby. Make sure you have your latching technique down pat (it takes practice for you and your baby!). My baby had a difficult time latching on one breast compared to the other. You will find that this is very common. When one nipple started to hurt and looked like I was getting wounds there, I took a break and continued on the other side until both my baby and I were ready to start again. Even though I was mix-feeding or formula-feeding, my midwife taught me to ALWAYS START WITH BREASTFEEDING before you top up with formula. This way, baby is still hungry and will work to get some milk providing you the stimulation your body needs.

2. Get some rest.
Right. This was what the midwives told me. Get some sleep. Help your body recover. Easier said than done with a newborn who wakes every 2-3 hours. But it's sound advice and although near impossible, let me shove that advice in there for good measure.

After 2 days of following all of these steps, I went from producing only 1 ml per day (barely filling one syringe) to producing up to 18 mls per pump or around 70ml per day. This was major improvement and more than enough to encourage me to keep going!

3. Hot compress.
A hot compress applied to the breast or a warm-hot shower can encourage milk flow. Once my milk actually came in, I noticed that my milk would just flow after a hot shower.

4. Manually expressing.
The midwives in the hospital helped me with this. I always yelped when they did this for me but also realised how effective it was. I hated it but if I could get even 0.2 mls into a syringe from doing this, it gave me hope! So I did this before every pumping session.

Day 3 of following these tips and I finally graduated from using syringes for my milk. Woohoo! I was producing 40-70 mls per pump and my newborn baby was barely needing a top of formula. She was drinking less and less of the formula we prepared. This is because I would give her the expressed breast milk and then latch on to breastfeed before checking to see if she needed a top up of formula.

5. Pumping every 3 hours.
That's 8 times in 24 hours. Gosh, between nappy changes and breastfeeding your newborn baby every 2-3 hours and pumping every 3 hours, that number 2 advice seems even more impossible, doesn't it? If you're up to it, go for it! Personally, I aimed to pump 7x a day. I had established a routine of latching/breastfeeding, passing on the baby to the husband so he can feed her formula, and then I apply a hot compress, manually express, and then pump. This was a plan/routine my lactation consultant helped me establish which I found really helpful (I added the warm compress bit in). In a span of 24 hours, I would skip the last 3 steps just once so I can get some precious sleep. What point was religious pumping if my body was already knocked out from exhaustion? Find your balance. Also, INVEST IN A GOOD BREAST PUMP! I spent a good amount of money on a good breast pump and the amount of milk I pump immediately doubled on the first go (compared to the pump I was able to use in the hospital).

P.S: Even if in the beginning, you are pumping and nothing (or barely anything) comes out, keep going. It is the stimulation that is important, rather than the amount. Your body needs to be told that there is an increased demand for breast milk, and therefore it has to increase supply.

6. Nourish your body with lactation cookies and Milo.
Milo contains malt which is said to increase milk supply. Lactation cookies contain milk-enhancing ingredients called "galactagogues". And if nothing else, they contain healthy ingredients either way. You need to nourish yourself in order to nourish your baby. And I was willing to try everything!


After 6 days of following these steps, my baby was already full after every feed of expressed breast milk and latching on. No more top up of formula needed! Hurrah!

7. Malunggay Herbal Supplements
Malunggay (moringa oleifera) is a vegetable that Filipinos swear by for everything. It's a sort of miracle herb. If you can get this fresh and cook it into soups, that would be perfect! Unfortunately, this one's not easy to get in Australia so I asked my dad to bring me some malunggay capsules instead. I thought, it couldn't hurt! And again, I was willing to try everything!


Once I was confident with my breast milk supply, I stopped doing steps # 3-8 (except I love my Milo so I still drink it everyday). Instead, I fed my baby on demand and was able to get a bit more rest. I could even use the Haakaa breast pump to catch the let down from one breast while my baby fed from the other (to save some breast milk stash just in case).

8. Medication
My obstetrician prescribed me Motilium (domperidone) which is known to improve breast milk supply and instructed me to stop taking it when my milk comes in. This is probably one that people will have divided opinions on. In fact, some will frown against it for its side effects. My OB also gave it to me with a warning saying that not all women will produce breast milk. Midwives also had differing opinions with some telling me not to take it, that day 5 is still considered "early" and "let nature take its toll" while other midwives told me to take it as "it's already day 5". Do what's best for you, mama. As for me, you bet ya I took it! I took this medication for 3 days and weaned it as my milk supply came in. After around 6 days, I had completely stopped this medication.

My baby quickly gained a lot of weight and I'm one happy mama!

At the end of the day, you have to do what's best for you and your baby. And if in fact, you are unable to breastfeed for a medical or personal reason, what matters is that your baby is fed! But if you're here because you want to fight and work to improve your breast milk supply, I truly hope this works as well for you as it did for me. YOU GOT THIS, MAMA!

If you found this post helpful, share it to your fellow mama who could use these tips!

Always,
Jeanne


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19 comments:

  1. I am not a mother yet but this is really good information for the future! Thanks for sharing all of this useful information. Your baby is so cute!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

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  2. Oh yes it is not as natural as one would think. I remember my friend had a very hard time. Her daughter would not nurse, then she had health problems. I remember she pumped for a while as she was having so many issues with breast feeding.


    Allie of
    www.allienyc.com

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  3. These are good tips! I think we are so lucky in Australia to have access to the Australian Breastfeeding Association and be able to call them free any time day or night when we have struggles. The in person groups are so fun too and I found them really helpful with my breastfeeding challenges!

    Hope you're having a great weekend :)

    Away From Blue

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  4. Awesome tips and your baby is adorable xoxo Cris
    www.photosbycris.com.au/?p=2066

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  5. Great tips! But I am glad that this period is far behind me))
    http://www.recklessdiary.ru

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  6. What a precious little one! I especially love the picture of the two of you looking at each other. That one needs to be blown up and framed. These are great tips. I, fortunately, didn't have a problem with that 40 years ago when I had mine and that's a good thing. We didn't have the internet. At all. If we wanted to get great tips and information on increasing our breast milk, we'd have to go the library and hope they had something fairly new and up-to-date on it. I love that there is so much free and easily accessed information out there (because not all physicians are on-board with the natural remedies and those are my first choice). On the negative side, there's a lot of bad and harmful and incorrect information out there, so it's always important to do extensive research on it before believing it. Thank you so much for sharing this information - I know it'll be a helpful and hopeful aid for lots of new moms having the same problem.

    Ruth
    https://voguefauxreal.com/2020/02/09

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  7. your baby so cute!!
    xoxo

    marisasclosetblog.com

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  8. This is such an important post for mothers out there. I've never had a child but I have friends who have and I know a lot of them had this issue too. It's something that isn't too widely discussed (I think) so I can't imagine how helpful this will be for some

    Sxx
    daringcoco.com

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  9. Very informative.

    www.infinitelyposh.com

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  10. It is for sure very helpful that you share this important post.
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

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  11. For sure every mom goes through her own challenges. It's always good to stay positive and stress less.

    www.fashionradi.com

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  12. Thanks for this tips, it's very important to talk about this things Jeanne.
    Have a nice week!

    www.luciagallegoblog.com

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  13. This is a great article as I do not often find this information around!
    I think especially the first point is so so important but all of them are very helpful.
    You both look absolutely gorgeous!

    https://www.ecoislogical.com/

    Nat

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  14. What an informative post. I enjoyed reading about your journey.

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  15. Thank you for such an informative post for future moms:)
    XOXO ♥ MYNOCTURNALITY

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  16. I’m glad you were able to find a resolution! I’ve nursed both times around and have found that working alongside a holistic lactation consultant has helped in guiding me. Sometimes it’s our bodies, but sometimes it’s tongue tie that doctors miss when checking the baby and they’re not able to pull out the milk efficiently and it effects the supply, too. My second was tied and for 3 months we saw doctors at her check up and they said she wasn’t, when indeed she was. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. I feel it’s important to talk about our struggles and resolutions to create a more efficient and supportive community of women and moms. Your baby is so precious by the way!!

    Xo,

    Jalisa
    THE STYLE CONTOUR

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    Replies
    1. Really great point! Thanks for bringing it up! My baby actually had a tongue tie but my paediatrician spotted it straight away and was able to resolve it with a quick snip. Thanks for you comment. :)

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