Got Milk?? – Increasing milk supply

I love breastfeeding. (And my Dad stops reading there and I totally understand that haha…) I nursed my first son for about 20 months, and had plans to nurse my second for at least a year to year and half. I feel like 18 months is when they really start eating solids consistently, and until then get a ton of benefits from their momma. But, those people that say that “every child/baby is different” (my mil has said this a lot haha!) weren’t lying!! 

My sons have been polar opposites with nursing. Jackson had a horrible start, slight tongue tie, needed a nipple shield, took 40 minutes to an hour to nurse and honestly it didn’t get easy until he was about 3 months old. Then one day he just figured it out or outgrew the tongue tie, I have no idea, but suddenly feedings were quick 10-15 minutes and less stressful. He loved nursing to sleep, would comfort nurse and if there wasn’t a lot going on around us would nurse any where at anytime.

Jude on the other hand, came out super alert and ready to go. His pediatrician called him the “poster boy for nursing” and the pediatrician that checked him out in the hospital called him a “nursing champ.” This kid knew what he was doing. He latched well, ate fast and moved on. I mean, this kid GAINED weight in the hospital. Granted we were there a few days longer than normal because of my post partum issues, but for real, this kid had no issues eating. Then he got older, and woke up to the world, and decided he didn’t want to take time to nurse anymore. My supply dipped, I think from my own health issues as well, but he became quite a stinker about eating. He wouldn’t nurse while we were out, he wouldn’t nurse with his big brother around… we had to be in his room in the dark, right after he woke up from a nap because if he got overtired he wouldn’t eat either. A lot of nights this kid went to bed without eating because he was too tired. I do not lie, it started stressing me out, which didn’t help my supply either. Then at four months he hit a growth spurt and took off. He screamed and screamed, didn’t want to eat, wasn’t sleeping because he was hungry and then went on a nursing strike. This killed me, I had no idea what to do. I tried everything I could, but once we started bottles he didn’t look back. So here we go, pumping multiple times a day and trying to get my supply back up. I eventually had to start supplementing because I just was not making enough for him, and he eventually nursed after the strike but then went to not wanting to nurse at all and just crying when I offered. I was devastated, because it wasn’t what I had planned, but you have to do what is best for your kid and he’s gotta eat!

Because my supply had dipped so much, I looked into what I could do to help it out. At one point I was pumping 25-28 oz. a day, which is awesome from what I started out with, and I attribute the increase to these things below.

The honest company makes a great lactation support supplement that I started taking and like. You can take it twice a day. I also started drinking the Mother’s milk tea 2-3 times a day and adding a couple of drops of Young Living Fennel essential oils. I also topically applied this and saw dramatic results from this.

mmmm Tea!! 🙂

As far as diet goes, a couple of good additions for you to make would be almonds and oatmeal. They both are good for supporting good lactation. I keep a bag of nuts around just to snack on pretty often and carry them in my diaper bag too. The other thing that probably is more obvious is the need to stay hydrated. Drink TONS of water, coconut water…gatorade can also help.

One thing that has been difficult with the transition from nursing to pumping was trying to figure out when to pump and balance that with giving Jude opportunities to nurse. If I pumped before nursing, then I wouldn’t have enough for him to eat, but then if I didn’t pump I also wouldn’t have milk for a bottle. Because of this, I would highly recommend that you pump from the beginning and have a “stock” supply in your freezer. You can get bags specifically for storing milk from medela or other brands. I would suggest doing only 4-5 oz. per bag so you don’t waste any later when you unfreeze it.

I did not do this with Jude, and it was my biggest regret when we started having nursing issues. With Jackson, I pumped a lot and had a lot stored up but then didn’t end up using it because he wouldn’t take a bottle. What I didn’t think about is that I could have just mixed that in a sippy cup for him when he got older if it didn’t expire, so you can still use it even if your babe hates the bottle. With Jude, I just didn’t want to pump and really didn’t have time to anyway, so I was in a huge bind when he wasn’t wanting to nurse. I actually had a couple of friends that gave me some of their frozen breastmilk to give him to get us through the rough patch!

But as far as pumping goes and when to pump, I would suggest pumping right after a feeding.  Even if you don’t think you have any milk left, you will be surprised at what is there. Morning time is a good time to pump as well, because generally you have more milk at that time from your baby not eating as often throughout the night. Also, you could pump right before bedtime after you do your last nursing session. If your baby skips a feeding, or doesn’t eat when they normally do, that is also a good time to pump just to keep your body making milk. It’s all about supply and demand, right?? 😉 Also, if you are planning on going back to work, I would pump from the very beginning and get a good stash going. Odds are, you won’t have as many opportunities to pump at work (this even happened with me staying at home) and if you aren’t nursing as much, your body may not continue making as much milk as your little one needs.

The unfortunate thing about you baby stopping nursing, is that eventually your body just reduces the supply because it doesn’t necessarily realize there is a baby around. (Per my pediatrician) You would think the exhaustion alone would be enough to let my body know a baby was in the house haha… But I feel like these things have helped us keep going the last couple of months so my little man can enjoy the benefits of nursing a little longer. I hope these things may help you as well!

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