Tips for Boosting Milk Supply

Pecho y lectura

photo credit: daquellamanera

 

A guest post by Shannon. Wife, a mother of two boys and a passionate advocate of breastfeeding and homebirth. She is the author of Nourishing Days where she writes about real food and sustainable living.
I think everyone knows that breastfeeding is infinitely superior to bottle feeding. There are many health benefits for both baby and mom that you can not receive through formula. More than that, though, there is a physical and emotional bond between a breastfeeding mother and her baby that is unlike any other.

Breastfeeding can also be frustrating, painful and disappointing when it doesn’t go as you had planned. I have written about my struggle with breastfeeding and I would like to share with you what I have learned from that experience.

Resources For Boosting Milk Supply

Ideally right after birth our babies would latch on and for the next couple of days get as much immune boosting colostrum as possible. Then, a few days after birth, our milk would come in providing ample nutrition for our babes. For the next few years our babies would have a constant supply of nourishment literally attached to us everywhere we went. That would be ideal.
Unfortunately, breastfeeding doesn’t always run this smoothly. When your baby isn’t getting enough to eat you need to boost supply and you need to do it as fast as possible.

Here a few resources that can help to boost your supply:

  • Pumping and more frequent nursing. This is the first thing we must focus on because our bodies will produce a higher supply of milk when there is a greater demand for it.
  • Herbs. Herbs such as fenugreek, blessed thistle, nettles, shatavari and goat’s rue are ones that I have tried and found helpful. These come in the form of capsules, loose leaf teas and tinctures.
  • Eat galactogogues. A galactogogue is a substance that is purported to increase milk supply. A few of them include oats, quinoa, brewer’s yeast and mineral-rich leafy greens.  Lactation cookies are one way to help boost your intake.
  • Drink lots of water. Drink to thirst and then some. My midwife gave me instructions to drink enough so that I am getting up to go to the bathroom every hour during the day.
  • Get lots of rest. I know that it seems silly to even suggest this because of the circumstances. I have a very difficult time with this myself, as there is always someone to feed or housework to be done. Hand over the reigns to a mother, sister, friend or post-partum doula. My osteopath said “the best baby gift anyone could give is to tuck you into bed with your baby and cook you some really nourishing food.”
  • Find a support system. Find a lactation consultant, get in touch with la leche league, find a lactivist doctor, join a breastfeeding group. They will not only encourage and supply you with information, but they will give you the opportunity to be comfortable nursing in front of others.

When You Must Supplement
If all of the above don’t work and your baby is losing weight rapidly, you may want to consider supplementation.
The first question is what should we feed baby?

  • Do you have a close friend or relative who is lactating? If so you may want to consider asking them for help. This is called cross-nursing or wet-nursing. This woman could either pump her extra milk and supply it to your baby or breastfeed him or her herself. This is very common in less industrialized nations and was the best solution for mothers before the invention and mass-marketing of infant formula. I still believe that this is the best solution.
  • Consider getting milk from a breast milk bank. If you are comfortable receiving milk from anonymous donors this might work for you.
  • Make homemade formula. This is the option that we chose and have found it to work very well for both of our boys. Their are many reasons NOT to use commercial infant formula, and homemade formula is a well-researched substitute. We have used both the cow’s and goat’s milk formula recipes and have found success with both.
When you do start to supplement make sure that you are not nursing or pumping less frequently. I found a good pattern in nursing baby, supplementing baby and then pumping.
The second question is what equipment do we use to supplement?
  • What if you could supplement baby without having to give him/her a bottle? The lact-aid allows you to do this. There will be no nipple confusion or less frequent nursing sessions as the baby is supplemented at the breast while nursing.
  • If you are concerned about bottle feeding, there are alternative methods.
  • If you decide to bottle feed consider using glass bottles instead of plastic. There are many reasons to avoid plastic, especially in baby bottles.

I will leave you with this – enjoy it! Those precious moments with that sweet babe slip away so fast and yet it is so easy to stress through the whole process. Take a deep breath, get the help you need and continue on in your breastfeeding journey together.

Did you struggle with low milk supply? What steps did you take to increase it?

 

 

This post was originally posted at Naturally Knocked Up on March 3, 2009



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

The Dance of Breastfeeding

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photo credit: goetter

 

When I had my first child, a girl, I was determined to give her the best start possible. When she ended up in the NICU for five days, pumped full of antibiotics, I was even more resolute in my desire to breastfeed. Being able to give of myself to her in that way helped us through a hard and scary time.

When we got home from the hospital it became a bit harder. Although my milk had come in while we were still at the hospital, and even though I had a lot of help from the lactation consultants on staff, I still encounters a lot of difficulties in my breastfeeding experience. I had taken a childbirth education class with my doula, one which covered the ins and outs of breastfeeding, I was not prepared for what I was encountering. Clogged ducts, yeast infections perpetuated by the baby having thrush, mastitis in both breasts, cracked and bleeding nipples… all of these within the first few weeks of our breastfeeding experience. I’m not going to lie, it was horrendous. I cried a lot. Every feeding brought an emotional battle. I wanted to give my baby the best that I could, but each feeding was excrutiatingly painful, and I could hardly bring myself to put her to the breast. I pumped for awhile, hoping to allow my breasts to heal so that we could move on, but it only helped a little bit. There were many calls to my doula, me crying “I just can’t do this anymore”. She was encouraging and supportive, giving me advice and being my cheerleader. She is the reason I stuck it out. At the four week mark things took a turn for the better. I’m not sure what happened, maybe her little mouth was finally just big enough to latch on and stay on, I don’t know. All I know is that suddenly we turned a corner. The pain subsided and I was able to heal and life went on. I was so glad I had stuck with it.

I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t all roses from that point on. Some women can breastfeed for months and months and never encounter a problem.

I am not those women.

I continued to struggle time and again with my first child. I had a lot of clogged ducts, and more yeast infections. The same held true with my second and third child. I had mastitis with each one and yeast infections with both, although experience had given me more tools to use, and those bumps in the road became fewer and farther between. I was able to breastfeed my first and second children for 14 months each and my third for one year.

I set out to write this post about trouble shooting tips for breastfeeding moms, but instead thought maybe I would just share a bit of my story and offer some encouragement to you. Breastfeeding is completely natural, but it doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes it can be hard. You may be surprised by this, or maybe you have been there and done that, you can relate. Whereever you are in your breastfeeding journey, know that you are able. Whatever you can do, you are doing your best for your baby. The times that are spent nursing are precious and beautiful. Breastfeeding is like a dance. Both mother and baby are learning the steps and finding the rhythm. Through it all they are getting to know one another and creating bonds that cannot be broken. This is a beautiful thing.

Jenny is a stay at home mom with three children and blogs at The Southern Institute for Domestic Arts and Crafts – a blog of sharing, learning, and creativity. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Formula Recommendations or Relactating {reader asks}

A reader recently asked:

“I have a 3 month old grandson and my daughter has recently stopped breast feeding. Now she’s finding out how bad formula really is. The one she is now using is mostly sugar! So now she’s searching for the best formula to use. Can you help?”

My first thought is that mom might easily (or at least with some work) be able to breastfeed again! In fact, I know of women who successfully breastfed adopted children this way, so it can be done. 🙂 If she can find access to a supplementor, this will allow her to be able to breastfeed while using formula or donated breastmilk. It will help stimulate those hormones again and hopefully get milk flowing again. Pumping is also hugely beneficial to get things going again. Making sure she has a good diet and keeps hydrated will help her body produce milk as well as using something like a mama’s milk tea.

Dr. Newman also has some good ideas on his website for re-lactating.

Here are some thoughts from readers on the Natural Living Moms Facebook Page:

  • She can pump and re-lactate. Keep reintroducing the breast.
  • Nature’s One is the only one I think that I’ve heard good things of lately. (and was responded with – Nature’s One lists brown rice syrup as the first ingredient in all of their formulas. I suppose it’s better than corn syrup solids, but still… this topic is a tough one.)
  • A few moms mentioned goat’s milk as an alternative, but it should not be used alone. It should be used in a homemade formula.
  • If she needs something not too hard to put together, Radiant Life sells a package deal that contains the ingredients to the Weston Price homemade baby formula.
  • Find a good LC who will coach her through this. (contact Le Leche League)
  • I would encourage the mom to pump and re-lactate as mentioned above. That would be my first recommendation. I am a breastfeeding instructor, and I can assure the mom that she still has adequate hormones to do this. If goat’s milk is used, additional water & nutrients must be added. See askdrsears.com for specifics on this.
  • My first thought is that she may still be able to breastfeed if she has the desire to do so since that is by far the healthiest choice for baby. If a woman uses a breast pump as often as possible throughout the day her body may get the poin…t and start making milk again. Quinoa is an amazing grain that boosts prolactin levels. However if formula is the only choice then rice formula or goat milk formula is definitely a better way to go then conventional dairy or soy, since they are such strong allergens.

Do you have any other advice for this mama?



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Weaned

It’s been only eighteen days, and yet it feels like those 2 years and 3 weeks never happened.

Time, slipped away.

Tears are shed that only a mother can understand, no pain or discomfort except that of my heart.

Who am I now…….. and what will I be to her if not her source of sustenance?

To give of myself so freely, knowing that one day it would be over. Her babyhood over.

Weaned, asking of me no more.

The days and weeks fly by so quickly I find myself forgetting to breathe, as if I held it in longer I could slow down time. Time to take in each wayward hair, sweet little smile, and wondrous laugh. Yet I need more time  to memorize her, to remember how she feels cuddled deep into my arms. To see that smile as she drank to her heart’s content.

After what may have been our last nursing session. *sob*

The Last Time ©Donielle

May you become amazingly independent my sweet little one, with our heart strings always attached.

 



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Nursing Your Newborn

Nursing a newborn, especially if it’s your first baby, brings about some special challenges. Because, although nursing is considered a “natural” thing to do, baby doesn’t always catch on as quickly as a new mommy might think! (especially if you’ve had an epidural. Narcotics = sleepy baby after birth) So I thought I’d go through a few things that work for me!

Before your milk comes in:

Colostrum is all baby needs those first few days- supplementing is not necessary or even recommended no matter how big baby is. Your body needs to start building it’s own supply and will base that off of how long baby feeds. (plus there are major health reasons to not supplement with formula as well) Is baby crying every hour to feed? Every 2 hours? Fine, feed them until they unlatch themselves.

(and just a bit about crying – they don’t always cry because they are hungry! Did you put baby in the nursery at the hospital? Do you have them sleeping in the other room or in a crib? Expect more crying. Babies that are away from mama will cry more. How would you like to be yanked out of the most snuggly, warm home ever into brightly lit rooms where you lay flat on your back? Keep baby close in those first few weeks and not only will they cry less, you’ll learn their feeding cues much faster! Actually you’ll begin to notice that they root around and/ or put their hands in their mouths before they start to cry.)

Engorgement

Sweet mercy, they’ve grown 3 times bigger than the baby’s head!

It always seems that baby is just getting the hang of latching on and everything changes. Now they have to open up even wider and since the milk has come in, they now have to nurse something hard, not soft and pliable like it was just a few hours before. To helps them out, you can hand express a bit until the breast softens, or you can even try a heating pad (it will make you leak!) to do the same thing. And although uncomfortable and sometimes slightly painful, it normally doesn’t last to long. You can also use a cold compress or take a warm shower to help ease any discomfort. And if you do express, don’t express to much. Otherwise your body will think baby is eating more than they are and will keep producing more.

Learning the Latch:

If you’ve never nursed a baby before ask to speak to the lactation consultant at the hospital or have your midwife help you find the right latch. While it may be slightly uncomfortable, it shouldn’t hurt. Ever. If it does, something isn’t working right.

  • Don’t stress if they don’t seem to “get it” right away. Sometimes babies seem to play around and root without latching. It’s ok. You know why? They are actually helping your body with the letdown reflex. The stimulation releases some hormones and lets your body know what to do.
  • Try a different position. My first baby could only latch on with the football hold for the first couple of weeks, this new one can latch on no matter the hold. So if baby is having trouble latching on, just switch it up a bit.
  • Wait until the mouth is wide open! Otherwise the lips gets pursed and although they can latch on and nurse, it’s gonna hurt! So if you have to, flatten the nipple and pull baby on to it when they open up wide.
  • Try and keep them awake. Babies fall asleep so easily when nursing that sometimes it takes a lot of effort to keep them up. I always nurse one side until they unlatch, then I wake them back up (normally with a diaper change) and then nurse the other side. The next feeding I’ll start on the one they ended with last time. That way it keeps my supply even and it makes sure they’re getting both the foremilk and the hindmilk.

When you sit down to nurse:

Prepare to have it take awhile. Feedings can last 30 -45 minutes (once your milk comes in, before you have milk the sessions may be rather short). Yea, most newborns aren’t that quick when it comes to eating. But making sure you have everything you need before you start to feed can make it so much easier.

  • First off, wear something easy to nurse in. Personally I don’t care for nursing tops. They always seem to get in the way and baby usually makes a mess anyways so the bottom half of the shirt always gets soaked. I like to wear a zip up sweatshirt or button up shirt. That way you have nothing in the way of viewing baby. (A larger/stretchy v neck shirt works as well because you can just pull the neck down under the breast) A sleep bra also makes it a bit more convenient the first couple of weeks since they just pull out of the way with less bulk.
  • Get a boppy or fluffy pillow. You wanna get comfy since you could be sitting there awhile. Even if you don’t have a specified “nursing” pillow, a pillow of any sort can help keep you from hunching over and getting a sore back.
  • Grab a small towel or burp cloth. Not only are these good for if baby makes a mess while burping, they work great when placed under the breast and on top of baby’s shoulder. Why? Baby’s are messy eaters and they let milk leak all over! This saves their clothes and yours from getting soaked. Plus, at some point baby may choke and gag because they aren’t swallowing fast enough! Not to worry though, just sit baby up with one hand and grab the towel/cloth to cover the spray coming from your mammary gland. Without the cloth you will either spray baby in the face or you’ll be trying for the distance award in the nursing Olympics! (yes nursing is quite the experience)
  • Bring a glass of, or bottle of, water. Breastfeeding can be quite dehydrating to your body so I try and make a habit of sitting down with something to drink. This way I’m replenishing as the baby is draining.
  • If nothing else will be vying for your attention, grab a book or the remote. With my toddler around, we get out some of his books or even watch one of his DVDs all cuddled up on the couch.
  • Put the phone near you. That is if your baby nurses well without you holding everything at the right angle. Otherwise, let it ring. I do all the time. 🙂

Some other things I do

I don’t let the hospital give my baby any type of bottle (formula or glucose water) or a pacifier. Not only do I think that anything other than breastmilk messes with their not yet fully formed intestines, I don’t want them to get used to any other type of nipple. Once baby is latching on and feeding well for a couple weeks I’ll offer a pacifier if I think it’s needed, but not before.

I don’t leave the house often or make any plans the first few weeks. Breastfeeding is important to me and I don’t like to feel hurried either at home or while we’re out.

And the best thing you can have around you during those first few weeks is a supportive spouse and family/friends. If you aren’t getting the support you need at home, look to a group like the La Leche League or even online forums. Breastfeeding is to important to give up just because you’re tired and frustrated and your spouse’s advice is to just “give him/her a bottle already”. Sure breastfeeding is hard, but it gets better as time goes on!

Did I miss anything? What has made nursing easier for you? What are your tips and tricks?

 

*This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Natural Cures for Mastitis

Mastitis affects many, many moms and recurrent mastitis can be the demise of breastfeeding early on. It’s not only painful, but causes overall body aches and fever as your body tries to fight it off.

I’ve unfortunately dealt with mastitis on and off again with both of my children. The cause I’m sure is like a lot of others; I was given antibiotics during both of their births, I rely on others to make me food in the postpartum period, and I get little sleep as the mom of a newborn. All of these things seem to cascade together telling my body it’s just too much.

Symptoms can vary from woman to woman, but many experience redness, pain, or warmth in the affected area of the breast, elevated temperature, overall malaise, pain while breastfeeding, as well as swelling of the breast. And it happens quickly, most of the time it hits full force within 12-124 hours of the first symptom.

photo credit: bellymotherbaby

Antibiotics are the go-to treatment if you head to the doctor’s office, but the problem is that not only are you being subjected to them again, but so is your little baby. And antibiotics can start a cycle of yeast overgrowth leading to recurrent mastitis, thrush, vaginal yeast infections, yeast diaper rashes, digestive issues, and eczema just to name a few. So we’re obviously better off trying to treat it naturally first.

 

Yeast Fighting

One of the biggest issues concerning mastitis is the hidden yeast in the body. Often allowed to overgrow during a previous round of antibiotics, it causes all sorts of issues within the body. To help combat this yeast both probiotics and a low/no sugar diet are pivotal.

 

Boosting the Immune System

Worn out bodies are more prone to illness and disease, and keeping our immune system functioning properly is key to getting over mastitis. While we each have our own immune boosters we fall back on, some of the following have been shown to work quickly:

  • Large doses of vitamin C. KellyMom.com recommends mega doses of vitamin C as soon as any symptoms arise, anywhere from 3500 to 5000 mgs in a 24 hour period. This particular vitamin is water soluble, meaning it will be flushed out of the body when overconsumed, not stored, so there isn’t a concern for over dosing. (if you notice loose stools, it’s your body getting rid of the excess and you can scale back your dosage)
  • Raw garlic is also highly beneficial in boosting immune function as well as fighting of the mastitis because of it’s anti-bacterial/anti-fungal properties. I love to finely grate garlic over my meals throughout the day as well as make garlic herb butter. I’ve also used finely minced garlic mixed with a spoonful of honey to take it when it didn’t quite fit in with the foods I was eating. Just always take it during meals as it could upset and empty stomach.
  • Sleep is also essential to allowing your body to rest and fight off infection. If possible sleep as much as you can – nap with the baby as often as the situation arises.

Chiropractic Adjustments

My dear friend Michele struggled on and off for a long time with plugged ducts and mastitis and found that spinal misalignment can prevent proper immune system flow, which can affect breastfeeding.

 

Other Tips and Tricks

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Nurse, nurse, nurse!! Latch baby on as much as possible, offer the affected breast first, and empty out the breast each time. If you feel that baby hasn’t done a sufficient job, hand express or pump afterward.
  • Massaging the breast and affected area is helpful in treating plugged ducts.
  • Heat – many times using a heating pad or hot rice pack can help alleviate soreness and keep milk flowing.
  • On the other hand , using ice to treat mastitis can also be effective at reducing inflammation.
  • Homeopathic remedies like phytolacca are also helpful.

photo credit: hodac

 

So as long as your symptoms aren’t severe or your fever to high, check out some natural cures before resorting to meds. If it’s already to late and you’re on antibiotics, taking the above steps can help you heal faster and keep it from coming back.

And while we’re on the topic, let’s talk a bit about how to prevent it.

  • Take probiotics and eat plenty of yogurt/kefir (builds immune system)
  • Get plenty of rest (sometimes mastitis is your body’s way of telling you to rest)
  • Don’t wear wired bras
  • Drink lots of water
  • Eat good whole foods
  • Don’t let baby fall asleep while feeding, especially when your breasts are still full
  • Make sure baby is latched and suckling well
  • Go bra-less when possible

Do you have any other tips for overcoming mastitis naturally?



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.