Here are a couple scenarios for you:
1. The new mom, having just got home from the hospital after a typical labor and delivery, exhausted, excited, and doing everything she can to keep up with breastfeeding. She may be thinking:
"I thought breastfeeding was easy and natural?"
"Don't they know how to breastfeed already?"
"Shouldn't I know how to breastfeed?"
"Am I doing this wrong?"
"How do I know she is getting enough?"
"Are they supposed to eat this much?"
(and the list goes on...)
If you have ever breastfed, you may have asked these very same questions, and that is completely NORMAL!
2. Picture the mom who has just returned to work; anxious about leaving her beautiful baby in daycare for the first time, having to get herself and the baby up and out of the house every morning on time, pumping once or twice during her work day (if she’s lucky) and worrying about how much she isn’t getting. Then daycare tells her that they’ve gone through all of the bottles she dropped off that morning, including the extra back-up bottle, and that they think she needs to send more milk the next day… and the supply in the freezer isn’t even beginning to keep up with the demand. Yikes!
Stress, whether it's about breastfeeding, a crying newborn, lack of sleep, etc., may release the stress hormone, Cortisol. Cortisol can temporarily inhibit the breastfeeding hormone, Prolactin, which is one of the hormones responsible for milk production. It is important to take care of yourself, especially in those first few weeks postpartum. Breastfeeding affirmations can be very helpful, for example, "I trust my baby and my body". Also, taking a moment to just enjoy your baby, smell your baby, and do some skin-to-skin, is also very helpful, and can also release oxytocin - which is also a breastfeeding hormone!!
Now let’s look at a checklist of things that might be interfering with milk production:
- Inefficient latch: if the milk is not being removed efficiently, the supply may be affected
- Return of your period: every woman is different on when her period returns
- Lack of sleep: which can induce stress
- Stress: release of cortisol, which may inhibit release of Prolactin
- Decreased pumping sessions / Difficulty pumping / Not using the right flange size: when the breasts are full for a longer period of time, the body will not produce more, and therefor may tamp the supply
- Going back to work: anytime there is a change in the breastfeeding routine, changes in supply can take place
Now let’s look at the checklist of things that can boost milk supply:
- Make sure baby has a proper latch, as milk will not be removed as efficiently otherwise.
- The best way to increase supply is to bring baby to breast more often, and/or, removing milk more quickly and frequently, which includes hand expression and pumping.
- Before every pump session, hand express first, as this can assist in oxytocin release, which helps to move the milk, and the hand expression mimics the skin-to-skin contact you would usually receive from the baby.
- Try different positions while nursing, as this can help to remove milk from ducts that do not normally receive the attention.
- Foods: sometimes food may assist in milk production, such as, oatmeal, almonds, pumpkin, sweet potato/yam, hummus, coconut, apricots, beet greens, chickpeas, chicken (bone-in), carrots, asparagus, green beans, peas.
- Staying hydrated: its important to take care of your body
- Practicing conscious relaxation when you pump – breathe, relax your shoulders, and stop paying attention to the pump. Instead, read a book, look at a video of your baby (also helps facilitate a letdown), or just close your eyes and rest.
- Adding an herbal supplement. There are several herbs that may help with milk production. We love Motherlove Herbal tinctures. You do need to choose an herbal supplement with care; if you have any issues with your thyroid, there some herbs that can actually be counterproductive, and therefor cause your milk supply to decrease. Be sure to do your research!
- Power Pump – pump for 5 minutes, rest for 2 minutes, on and off, for a total of 20 minutes. You can do this after baby nurses, or after a scheduled pump session if time allows.
- While pumping, be sure to have the pump vacuum and speed at a comfortable setting, as bruising or trauma to the nipples may occur otherwise.
We hope this was helpful! If you need more assistance, please refer to our resources page for more information!
Bake some cookies!
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs. flaxseed meal (no substitutions)
4 Tbs. water
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 cups thick cut oats
1 cup chocolate chips
2 Tbs. Brewer’s Yeast (no substitutions)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flaxseed meal and water, set aside 3 – 5 minutes. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs. Stir flaxseed mix into butter and vanilla, beat until well blended.
Sift together dry ingredients, except oats and chocolate chips. Add butter mix to dry ingredients. Stir in the oats and then the chocolate chips.