A mummies perspective: 8 tips to help boost your breastmilk supply.
Author: Brea Walker
I am not a lactation consultant or a midwife. Why should you read my tips? Because I am a titty bustling postnatal guru! Yes, you read that right. There is a story behind the name - but in short it was my misfit interpretation of a game "what is your entrepreneur name - chosen by first letter and year born) and giving myself a name that represents ME.
I have been down the same hidden pathway that you are currently venturing down. The unknown road that seems to have more forks than any other street you have been down before.
I have been through the endless night after night of feeding a newborn. The excruciating pain of cracked nipples and mastitis. The aching wrists and neck from helping position a newborn and watch them latch. The constant worrying that your baby is not getting enough milk or sleeping long enough. And then the endless emotional rollercoaster that comes with the lack of sleep, overactive hormones and a constant hanger that always seem to appear at the most inconvenient times.
I am a pro-breastfeeding advocate but I like to think of myself as a pro-mental health advocate - where mum and bub as a whole is taken care of from a mental and physical wellbeing. Please do try these tips but if you are in any pain, your baby is not having wet nappies or are not putting on weight - please see a professional - THIS IS WHAT THEY ARE THERE FOR.
It sounds obvious doesn't it - we are around 55% water.
Have you been here? Your baby starts to cry, you take a seat to start breastfeeding and then it hits you. That THIRST is like you have been stranded on a desert island for a month with nothing but chalk. You need water and you need it now. Did you know that this is your bodies way of telling you that you are lacking in water.
On average we should be drinking 8 glasses of water a day, so a breastfeeding mum will need to increase this to around 10-12 glasses per day to cater for extra breastmilk production.
Water can be very bland especially when you need to drink that much every single day. So how can you get more water into your diet?
- Have a chilled water bottle set up for every feed. In the beginning, you will be feeding every 2-4 hours, so start getting into the routine from birth so that it becomes part of your routine.
- Mix it up a little - place some fruit or juice into your water to flavour it slightly
- Drink some "Breastfeeding approved" herbal teas
- Increase your Fruit and Veg intake
If you are looking for more ways to increase your water intake check out our Pinterest collection.
I know I know - another state the obvious point but it is one so many people struggle with. We live in a world of convenience, which means that when you are at your most fatigued you are likely to turn to the easiest to prepare snacks. These foods offer initial relief and a possible energy booster but you will hit a spiral downpour before you can say Granny undies and then you will be left still hungry and possibly lacking in energy.
I have no doubt that my DIET was one of the reasons I ended up turning to formula with my twins. I wasn't aware of it at the time but my convenient foods or lack of food altogether was part of the reason my milk dwindled to next than nothing.
I did a lot of research when breastfeeding Xavier (our youngest) and found that the following fresh food and produce helped my milk supply dramatically:
- Smoothies (add oats and spinach)
- Lean high protein meats
- Heaps of green leafy veggies
Take a sneak peak at some of the awesome collection of snack ideas and dinner ideas for a busy new mum.
This one I found to be one of the hardest to actually figure out. All the videos and instructions for the perfect latch were never from the same angle that I was in. When the babies were attached I couldn't see how they were latched. Looking down constantly is bad for your back and neck. With this in mind it is best to get a quick look that they latch and then move your focus to a better-positioned activity.
The one thing I recommend you do especially when you are both learning is to get out your phones and take heaps of selfies of your baby latch. You should be able to see if baby has all or most of the areola in his/her mouth.
My lactation consultant would always mention that you should not feel like there is a baby latched if they are on properly. I beg to differ slightly - I could always feel them attached but there was no pain with a good latch which is the most important thing.
There is a great selection of latching and breastfeeding advice at the Australian Breastfeeding Association. If this is your first baby and you feel like you are struggling with breastfeeding, I highly recommend the membership and support group meetings.
Demand feeding is a schedule where you look out for the babies cues for feeds and offer the breast only when your baby tells you they are hungry. Not only does this schedule allow you more flexibility to get on with your day (especially when you have other children to entertain) but your baby is naturally increasing your milk supply to meet its demands.
If you do not feel comfortable with this situation and want to stick to a routine based feeding program, you can still stimulate more feeds by using a breast pump in between feeds. This system is what I used to do with my twins but please follow this with caution. The times between feeds is important for you also - you need to get some rest, food and water too.
So much of your milk (especially when your baby is brand spanking new) ends up wasted in breast pads. Breastmilk has a really good freezing period and getting yourself a good collection of breastmilk in the freezer will allow you the opportunity to have someone help out every now and and then or for other purposes. There are so many uses for Breastmilk other than ingestion - from flushing out conjunctivitis to an immune booster with a sick child.
Check out the Haakaa Breast Pump - Under $30 and perfect for collecting milk from letdowns or between feeds.
Getting out of the house daily for a little stroll is great for your mental health not only for you but your baby also. You do not need to have your heart rate at fat burning levels. Just a leisurely stroll is all that is required. Light exercise can help improve self-perception and esteem, enhance your mood and sleep quality plus it reduces your stress, anxiety, and fatigue (all things a new mum is struggling with).
Sleep was something that I didn't get with any of my children - there was no lucky sleep through the night from 6 weeks for me. In fact, my children didn't really sleep through the night until 2 years of age. To make matters worse, they rarely slept at the same time which made it virtually impossible to "Sleep when the baby sleeps". My husband, however, was a master at sleeping when the baby sleeps.
Did you know that when you sleep your body produces hormones Prolactin and Oxytocic that play a very important role in the production and secretion of breast milk? Without enough sleep, you are potentially compromising your milk supply unintentionally especially in those early days.
Time to take benefit of every person who puts their hand up to help. There is more to the saying - It takes a community to raise a child. Do not feel like a failure for asking for help. If a family member comes around for a visit - they are more than likely wanting to play with the new baby (sorry mums, cute babies win every time). Use this to your advantage....
Ask whether they minded keeping an eye on baby for an hour whilst you have a little nap. Make sure bub has a fresh nappy and a full tummy then drift off for a blissful uninterupted hour sleep.
Place a recipe on the kitchen counter with all the ingredients on the counter or in easy reach as a hint*
Suggest there are snacks and coffee etc in the kitchen if they hunger and hopefully when you wake up, not only will your baby be asleep or content but you might have killed two birds with the same stone and ended up with a home-cooked meal.
Why buy lactation cookies? Some natural foods are high in galactagogues which are linked to helping increase breast milk supply, but adding these foods to your regular diet can be tricky. Brewers Yeast tastes revolting on its own but mixed in some delicious cookies with oats and flaxseeds and you have yourself a delicious boobie filling tea break that you do not have to feel guilty about.
Check out the delicious range of lactation cookies, premade mixes and smoothie packs at Made By Milk.
If you are looking for ways to increase galactagogues in your diet - check out our Pinterest pinned post.
So there you have it. 8 simple ways that you can help increase your milk supply. Did I miss any? Please feel free to share your experiences and tips so we can help other mummies.
Want to know more about my personal experiences with breastfeeding? I open up about my struggles with breastfeeding twins, expressing all day and night and the lessons I learnt after giving up in my personal journey of breastfeeding.