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



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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.

About donielle

Donielle is a natural momma of two, lover of real foods, and owner and editor of Grand Rapids Natural Living and Naturally Knocked Up. You can usually find her in the kitchen whipping up some nourishing foods, cuddled on the couch reading books to the littles, avoiding the laundry and Mt. Saint Dishes, or tapping away on the laptop. Her husband puts up with her sometimes crazy "hippie" ways, but loves her regardless. Welcome to my home away from home.

Comments

  1. I really wanted to check out the lactation cookies but the link says it is a private blog and I have to be granted access….???

  2. Thanks for this post! I’m really interested in the formula recipe, but the link is broken. Can you please provide the recipe you used for us? Thanks!

  3. I also want to add that Marshmallow Root is supposed to be a good booster. :) I have great success with the drug domperidone ordered from Canada. this is suggested as a very last resource, but in my case, due to insufficient milk glad tissue, I *have* to take it if I want to stand a chance at breastfeeding. I fall into that “2%” category of women who truly cannot make enough milk. some doctors may suggest Reglan, but I strongly caution people against it. there is a lawsuit in progress against the drug and, IMO, it’s very dangerous and not very effective. I’ve also used milk from a lactating friend to supplement with and it was definitely the best option available.