Breastfeeding isn't easy, it has so many challenges. I have compiled a list of tips that helped me increase my supply, they worked for me over the course of breastfeeding two of my own babies and supplying milk for two others.
1. Hydration. Drink as much water as you can, and then drink some more. I found that keeping a water bottle beside me (within sight) at all times helped me massively. I took it in the car, to the mall, always had it in my bag or sitting beside me as I nursed / pumped. There are even apps that you can download that remind you to drink water if you aren’t great at remembering
2. Food. Eat well. It is an obvious one, but honestly when your breastfeeding and have a baby (and other children) convenience often out ways healthy. If you are anything like me as well you will have an uncontrollable sweet tooth and crave everything that is bad for you.
Keeping fruit to hand is always a good idea, be it on the table in a bowl or even a bowl by the front door. Have to run out to do a few errands? Seeing the bowl of fruit beside the front door will remind you to take one with you for when you get hungry! Golden kiwis were one of the few fruits that were sweet enough to help my cravings. Papayas are apparently a great fruit for boosting supply too!
Nuts and dates are also another good way to keep your milk supply up. Prep little ziplock bags and just grab as you go!
Wholegrains and oats are fantastic for helping supply. I personally can’t stand eating oats on their own so I tried to sneak them in where ever I could. Smoothies, cookies, pancakes and bread.
Fennel, fenugreek, garlic, chia seed, flax seed and moringa are all said to have a great effect on milk supply so try to get them into some of your meals. **Pregnant women are not advised to consume flax so this should be done after baby arrives.
3. If your diet isn’t the best (mine has been pretty awful the last few years) then supplements and vitamins are your friend. Supplements such as brewer’s yeast tablets, fenugreek capsules, moringa powder or capsules are all said to help. A little tip for fenugreek is that you need to take enough to start smelling of maple syrup! Not a bad thing to smell of in my opinion...
4. Babywearing! Not only are you able to get things done while having your baby in a carrier but the close contact to your chest will encourage baby to suckle. The more you nurse, the more your body will produce. Why not go topless and babywear? Got big breasts? Pull your nipple out of the bra so it’s within baby’s mouth reach and continue with prepping your fruit salad!
5. Massaging your breasts. Bear with me here, it does help. It may feel weird to be fiddling with your own parts and probably not what you feel like doing if you have had a leech attached to your nipples all day but the stimulation honestly helps.
6. Pump. Even if you are not planning to give your baby bottles, pump! Sometimes your baby may be tired, they may not feel well, may not want to wake up for a feed or may just not be hungry, pump! The body will work to replace the milk that you have taken away, rather than leaving the milk in the breast and the body slowing down production. Baby doesn’t take bottles? Freeze the milk in smaller portions – add milk to their baths, use it for skin irritations and even for eye infections. You can even go wild and make a breast milk lotion or soap! I know that pumping can be boring and stressful for some, so here are a few tips I picked up:
Put the TV on and enjoy a 30 minute comedy. It will make you forget what you are doing as focusing on the milk output can be stressful and very unhelpful. When the break comes on stop the pump for a few minutes and restart when the show comes back on. Use that few minutes to eat that banana in front of you and drink up that water.
Look at your baby (even a photo of them). Sniff them or have an item of their clothing with their smell. I know, I know, I sound like the lack of sleep has finally got me, but it really does work. I once started leaking after looking at newborn photos of my son!
Don’t forget to massage and squeeze every last drop of milk out of those breasts!
7. Rest. I know, I see you all rolling your eyes at me through the screen. Not exactly like this is an option for most of us, but when you get the chance – take it! A tired, physically and emotionally drained mummy doesn’t help at all. The body needs energy to make milk, so those dirty dishes in the sink can be done tomorrow (or better yet – tell the husband to do them while you rest and make milk!)
8. Through your breastfeeding journey, you may also learn that certain things may affect the colour of your milk. It is normal. Don’t panic or stress, it can still be used. I have had blue milk, green and even orange milk. It is still milk, keep nursing and keep pumping.
9. You may also notice that certain things can decrease your supply. I noticed that mint was awful for me, I cut out everything mint and noticed a difference within a week. Pay attention to times your supply dips and what you may have eaten prior to it, note down any suspected foods and you may notice a pattern.
10. Know that your supply can dip, this is normal during certain times such as around your period. Don't stress when it happens, continue feeding / pumping. Increase your water intake and if you do start to get worried, speak to your lactation consultant, even if it is just to calm your mind.
Please do remember that breastfeeding isn't for everyone, not every woman wants to, not everyone can, not everyone enjoys it. That is ok. Fed is best! You got this mama. x