Low milk supply

Increasing Milk Supply: Straight From the Mamas Mouth

Very often women bring up low milk supply issues on Beautiful Breastfeedings Facebook page (Natural Mama NZs sister site). Mothers pour in with helpful advice, sharing what has worked for them personally. For me this is the best advice and it's one of crowning achievements of motherhood support pages on Facebook. Because supply issues keep coming up on Beautiful Breastfeeding and other motherhood pages I thought I'd collate some of the great advice shared through various threads into a blog post. Enjoy...

Increase suckling
Just keep constantly reminding your babe that s/he wants to nurse--offer, offer, offer. And you wouldn't have to pump every hour, just maybe a few times a day if there's really no nursing going on, to replace the missed feedings. Try finding a quiet room a couple times a day with little in the way of distractions to help keep the focus on your breasts, and also try wearing an eye-catching necklace that your babe can play with while nursing. Another thing is, if you co-sleep and can nurse all the night long, you'll keep your supply up. Then you have to manage getting enough sleep, but if you're able to sleep through the night time nursings you'll be in great shape.
Its supply and demand which is the best way. Night feeds are very important.
Offer breast for anything and everything.
Take a nursing vacation. Stay in bed for the weekend having skin to skin with the baby.
What's very important is that you get as much rest as you can and skin contact is very important. Let your husband take care of the household, crawl into bed with your baby, wear as little clothes as possible and just let your baby nurse as often as he/she would like. Do this for a couple of days and your milk supply should be 'in sync' with what your baby needs.
Babywearing works wonders too (I'm a big fan of ring slings). Bed-sharing is another great thing to do.
I'd suggest going to bed for a day and just feeding, babywearing topless for loads of skin to skin, and a pregnancy multi vitamin and loads of water.

Nurse on demand
If you are nursing on demand your milk will not stop unless there is a hormonal reason (new pregnancy, birth control pills), or unless you slow down/stop nursing. Is baby peeing and pooping? Sleeping and growing? Then things are fine.

Pumping
Number one way to increase supply is more stimulation. So, if you don't have time to pump every hour, try to add a few pumping sessions per day, right after you feed baby. Toss all your parts into a ziplock bag and toss in the fridge, then just wash once per day.
To increase supply, I pumped for 5-10 minutes after each feeding. This will stimulate your breasts to produce more milk. You can then feed the baby the pumped milk as extra if the baby is still hungry, or have your partner take a feeding for a break!
If you don't want to add extra pumping sessions you can nurse on one side and pump on the other. Then switch the pump when you switch the baby. This developed my supply so I could pump 12 ounces in a sitting to donate. Just do this twice a day.
I would pump and then as soon as the baby was done eating I pumped. I know a lot of breastfeeding "purists" discourage from pumping but I love to have a stash of breastmilk in the freezer, especially now that my 7 month old is eating cereal and I can mix the breastmilk with the cereal and if I need to run to the store alone my husband or parents can give the baby a bottle, since she WILL NOT take formula for anything.
I had a dip in supply when my daughter was 2 months (as well again around 8 months - she's 11 mo now). I started pumping one side while she nursed the other and fed in demand. At the 8 month mark I was back at work so I made sure I pumped at least 2x a day (as well as continued feeding on demand and bed sharing.) It's true about supply and demand - your body makes what your baby "demands".

Brewers Yeast
Brewers yeast helped me a ton! You can bake with it or sprinkle it on your food. Tastes a bit bitter but it's worth it to keep your supply up! Make sure you stay hydrated too.
I used to make a strawberry milkshake with Brewers Yeast, it helped almost immediately.
Brewers yeast made a HUGE difference for me! 1-2 Tbsp in a glass of orange juice was what I found most palatable.

Fenugreek and other herbs
I took Fenugreek (got it at GNC), and it worked within a couple of days. It made it to where I didn't have to supplement with formula, and I was so happy!
I've had success with fenugreek.
Basil, fenugreek, water... Avoid tea, coffee, mint, sage... and maybe one or two days only nursing skin to skin.
Blessed thistle and fenugreek.
Fenugreek works for me too, 2 capsules 3 x a day.
Keep in mind that you CANNOT take Fenugreek while pregnant, and Domperidone is contraindicated, too. I was referred to a company, Motherlove, that makes things that help supply, and the More Milk Two product is good for lactating pregnany moms. I have found that it has REALLY helped my supply since I got it on Monday. You can get it cheaper thru Amazon, and if you have Prime, shipping is free.

Oatmeal
Oatmeal always amped up my supply, but really, the only way to increase output is to nurse more. 
I never had a supply issue but I ate oatmeal everyday like it was my job, lol!
Eat oatmeal, drink lots of water, actually nurse baby as much as possible and believe in yourself! 
Big bowl of oatmeal topped with maple syrup.
Here's what has worked for me: steel-cut oats in the morning, granola for snacks later -- as much oats as you can stand.

Beer?
My lactation consultant said that if I know I have at least an hr then to drink a beer. Full of yeast I guess! Anyway pizza and beer at his longest nap and I was full and almost hurting by the time he'd wake up!
Dr sears say drinking non- alcoholic beer helps.
ONE Guinness or other low-alcohol content DARK beer (imported is best, or so I've heard) in the evening before nursing (or pumping) -- per my midwife, this is okay. They actually PRESCRIBE Guinness in the UK for milk supply, pregnant or not.
While it is safe to consume in reasonable amounts, alcohol does not actually increase supply.
http://www.kellymom.com/health/lifestyle/alcohol.html

Lactation Cookies
Lactation cookies you can go on http://www.whattoexpect.com and search it.
Lactation cookies are a good way to bump up your supply... you use brewers yeast.
Best lactation cookies, here you go: http://www.drmomma.org/2010/08/major-milk-makin-lactation-cookies.html
I made lactation cookies, with oats, nuts, flax, craisins, and a bottle of beer I boiled down with honey (makes it thick and boils out the alcohol). So good and really helped me out.


Drink lots of water
Drink loads of water and try feeding little bits more often.
Drinking water and eating all day is also very important. Snack healthy: fruits, nuts, cheese...


Don't stress and get lots of sleep
Don't stress too much that will drop your supply.
Drink plenty of water and relax, stress never helps.
Get as much rest as you can and try not to stress.
Get lots of sleep and nap nurse as often as possible.

Take note of growth spurts
It may be the perfect time for a classic growth spurt age, where baby wants to nurse almost continuously for about 48 hours, acting like he is starving the whole time. Then, suddenly will go back to normal once he has doubled your supply by adding so much demand, and he'll suddenly grow.
Are you positive its slowing? Breastfed babies tend to feed a LOT with the growth spurt, and the amount you express isn't always a sign of supply.
Remember you aren't going to pump as much after he is done eating cause he is getting a good amount out.
My baby seemed very unsatisfied between 7 and 8 weeks, but he was still growing and had plenty of wet diapers. So we pushed through it, although I took a pumping break, and then things settled down quite a bit!


Soft breasts don't always mean low milk supply
Drying up out of the blue is pretty rare. If baby is draining you properly, your breasts *should* be soft and not engorged. Engorgement means your supply has nowhere to go. Soft boobs = ample supply.
If your breasts aren't enlarged it doesn't mean you are losing supply.... its supply and demand... if your son is getting full at every feeding then your making enough.


Take note of your menstrual cycle
It is normal in times of illness or menses to see a drop in production. Nourish yourself well and rest plenty.
I noticed a drop with my first cycle post partum (which was at 11 months pp). Every other cycle since hasn't caused such a drop. We are now at 14 months EBF.
I always have lower milk during / leading up to my period.
‎1000 mg of calcium and 500 magnesium help hormonal dips.
I take an extra calcium magnesium supplement during my period for this reason.


Check for Thyroid Disease
Something similar happened with my first and I found out much later that I had thyroid disease. My suggestion would be to check for an underlying health issue.

Check for Anemia
I barely had any milk at all with my youngest, and nobody could tell me why. After she self weaned at 10 months (we supplemented every day), someone finally said to me, "are you anemic?" yup. Just a thought, but maybe try some iron.

Prescription Medication
Domperidone is supposed to help greatly to increase milk supply. Here is a link with some info: http://www.breastfeedingonline.com/domperidone.shtml
You can get a prescription for motillium/domperidone to boost supply.
Motilium!! (Domperidone) Doubled my sis in laws milk supply! But you have to get it from canada or something. But worth it not to stress!
I have been on domperidone for 11 months...it saved my breastfeeding...no side effects.

Helpful websites
Check out Dr. Jack Newman's website. He is breastfeeding guru in Canada, and has tons of great info on everything from increasing your milk supply to thrush.
Don't forget KellyMom.com

Call the professionals
Call La Leche League for advice.


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2 comments

  1. Which Motherlove product is best for me More Milk Plus liquid herbal extractsMotherlove s best selling product to increase breast milk. Fenugreek, the dominant.
    Buy Motherlove Product

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  2. Hi, You have posted a nice blog here. This is my first visit to your blog and I really loved it.
    Mothers are very serious about their babies growth. So they always try how to increase breast milk supply so that the baby will grow welly and will be healthy.

    ReplyDelete