Friday, 5 May 2017

13 tips for increasing your breast milk supply

hi all, i'm back today with my top tips for increasing milk supply. i read a ton of these posts in those first few months, because i felt, and i honestly think EVERYONE feels, like i wasn't making enough milk. even my grandmother admitted when she had just had my dad that she fed him only for 3 months because she felt like she wasn't making enough and had to supplement with formula, and that was 60-70 years ago (there was me thinking it was a recent phenomenon)!

this is really a bit of a round-up from other posts i've read, and these are things i genuinely did each day, and i ended up with a whole freezer drawer full of frozen 'spare' milk...

1. drink fennel tea!
this was something they were always asking me in the hospital - 'have you drunk your fennel tea?' - and so it was always ringing in my head when we got home from the hospital too. fennel is an amazing galactagogue and does wonders for increasing your supply. it doesn't matter which brand you choose, but get the best you can afford (you can even just buy the seeds from the spices section rather than ready in a teabag) and drink it every day, multiple times a day. it tastes nice so don't worry!

2. pump
we bought a Medela breast pump in advance because we knew we would use it. and by heck did we! if you're going to breast feed and you're serious about it, then getting an electric pump is the way forward. any time you want to stimulate your supply, you can simply just express the first little bit from your boobs and then baby gets the creamy top portion which helps them sleep better and grow better (you can then offer them this milk later in the day when your supply is lower).

3. eat well - eat nutrient-rich foods.
this is a tough one to accomplish because of number 4 in this list, and so it requires a bit of pre-thought when you're pregnant and some planning. but making sure that you don't try to survive on toast and takeaway foods is essential. i stocked my freezer, and we even turned on our spare freezer and filled that up too, and i created a new pantry area with wholefood essentials like tins of chickpeas and cartons of tomatoes. my mission was to have it ready by week 35, and i did (thank goodness, because he was early!).

if you're pregnant reading this, now is the time to start practicing cooking easy meals, and slow-cooker meals, and getting in tins of beans and packets of dried mango. think about what you like and if you're not sure, i hugely recommend reading the first forty days - it's an incredible guide on keeping yourself nourished.

4. set up camp on your sofa and nurse lots!
put on your favourite series on netflix, buy a cute comfortable cushion for breastfeeding - we just had this simple nursing pillow via amazon - and get a huge bottle of water by your side and some healthy snacks, and enjoy time with your little one on the sofa. the more you relax and rest the more energy your body can put into making milk. seriously the amount of selfies i sent of me to my husband in the same position on this sofa is a LOT...

5. put baby to both breasts at each session.
there was some age old wisdom that said to do one boob at a time, but ours has always done both, so always 'put them' to both breasts even if they seem done with the first one. it'll stimulate the breast anyhow and that's always a good thing.

6. get good rest and sleep when you can.
i could always tell a difference in production after a good nap. my mum was always saying, 'have you had your nap today?' for the first two months. as i'm not usually a good napper i was worried i wasn't going to be able to, but i did always sleep once a day for even just half an hour and felt so much better afterwards. so close the curtains and try to get some shut eye.

7. drink lots of water
i'll keep this one simple - milk is wet right? it's made of water? i reckon it's probably a good idea to try and drink even more than you normally would... i always kept a huge bottle of water by me and took it everywhere i went, and drank every time we breastfed, to 'replace' the milk.

8. eat galactagogues, and make lactation cookies.
galatagogues are foods that help you to produce milk, some of them are - oats, kale, spinach, broccoli, fennel, garlic, chickpeas, almonds, sesame seeds, ginger, papaya - these all are full of nutrients and can help stimulate production of milk (this is kind of half old wife's tale and half science). i loved lactation cookies, half because they taste so dang delicious, and half because i swear the day i didn't have one was a bad baby day.

a recipe for lactation cookies:

pre-heat oven to 180c/350f, put 2 cups of rolled oats into a blender/processor/grinder, and blend until the oats are a flour-like consistency. add in 1 tbsp of fennel seeds to the grinder and grind to a fine powder. add these to a bowl and mix in 1/4 cup spelt flour/ground almonds, 1/4 cup brewer’s yeast flakes, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda and 1/2 tsp sea salt.

in another bowl, put 1/2 cup maple syrup, 1/2 cup tahini (or other nut/seed butter), 1/4 cup, plus 2 tbsp melted coconut oil, 2 eggs (can replace with flax egg), 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. mix very well. add in 1/2 cup sultanas or 1/2 cup of choc chips at this point if you like.

mix wet with dry, and form into balls and place on a parchment lined baking tray. bake for 15-20 minutes, or until browned. pop in the freezer for future use and take it out 30 mins before you want to eat one.

9. make sure you're getting enough calories.
if you're breastfeeding you need extra calories, because breastfeeding is exercise. that's right. so now is not the time to diet, it's the time to eat the extra slice of cake, because you can! that's probably the secret reason we're still breastfeeding at 14 months, because i just don't want to give up the extra slice of cake ;)

10. avoid paci's and bottles in those first few months.
sucking is the way your baby communicates to your breast how much milk to make, so if they're sucking elsewhere it could mean they're too tired to suck at your boob, and then they don't suck enough. so try to limit or eliminate the use of other things to suck on - if they want comfort, put them to your breast, even if it's exhausting, it's just the short term.

11. make sure you've got a good latch
is the baby actually sucking correctly? this is probably the first thing to correct, and the best thing to do is to have someone that's breastfed come and take a look, because they'll know what to look out for. there are heaps of guides on this, but you just want to make sure that baby is swallowing and not just sucking that's the key part.

12. keep your baby close to you.
i always found that when i was further away from my bean i made less milk, and sometimes to help a let down i needed to stop being distracted and just look at him and relax as i think about how cute and awesome he is. so if you're having issues with the let down of your milk, just stop thinking of other things and focus on your baby. also when you've got lots of guests in a day, make sure you still spend time bonding with him/her because that's really important for your hormones and therefore your milk supply.

13. wear the right type of bra.
i've been living in these stretchy nursing bras for over a year now, and although they're not sexy, i've not once had a problem with my boobs, no infections or anything. i have a multipack i bought on amazon, and then i bought them again, so i would always have a spare of each colour and avoid washing all the time (because you leak lots when your supply is up). but don't try to wedge your boobs into bras, and sometimes just don't wear a bra at all (especially when all that milk comes in). i bought a nighttime nursing bra and it was a waste of money, it made much more sense for the health of my boobs to just put a towel down over my side of the bed.

and just in case the post wasn't enough info for you, there's a video of me explaining this all as well:

also, check out my 'living life with a newborn' post, which has had a lot of positive feedback, so i would recommend giving that one a whirl.

all the best with your breast feeding journey xx

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