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My breastfeeding journey is complicated. And before I get started I need to disclose that fed is best. Period. But for me, it was absolutely important personal decision that my children be breastfed. That does not, by any means, mean that this has been an easy journey.
When my first child was born nearly 6 years ago, he had issues latching in the hospital. A couple of months later he was diagnosed with a pretty severe tongue tie, but at that point, I had already been exclusively pumping every 3 hours. Yes, I would even wake up in the middle of the night to pump and make sure that I kept my milk supply up for my baby. It was exhausting.
So when my daughter was born a couple of years later, I was determined that she would latch. I had several visits from the lactation consultant while in the hospital and they confirmed no tongue tie and her latch was great. My milk even came in while I was only 24 hours postpartum! It was crazy. In fact, I had an oversupply (thanks to my body being in overdrive from exclusively pumping with baby number 1). I needed to use a nipple shield to prevent my oversupply from choking my poor baby! But we worked through it.
So my body has literally been all over the place when it comes to breastfeeding — exclusively pumping, oversupply, undersupply, and everywhere in between.
Here’s what I can share with you to help
increase your milk supply while breastfeeding.
Eat and Drink.
It can be difficult to make sure you’re eating enough when you’re stuck underneath a needy newborn, but the most important thing you can do for your milk supply is to keep a constant supply of water on hand and plenty of snacks. Our bodies use a lot of energy to create the milk for our babies. If we aren’t keeping up with our own caloric and water intake, our bodies won’t be able to produce food for our babies.
After you finish nursing your little one the last thing you want to do is be tied down even more. I know. But set that little lovebug down and bust out your breast pump and fully finish emptying your breasts. It will seem tedious at first and you likely won’t get much milk expressed, but if you keep up this practice it will help keep up with the demands of feeding.
Every new mom can check to see if they qualify through insurance for a new breast pump. The Aeroflow Breastpumps website makes it super easy to find out! All you do is complete the Aeroflow qualification form and then Aeroflow contacts your insurance provider and submits the paperwork to your doctor — and you get to choose your brand new breast pump!
If you’re looking for a manual pump, Aeroflow Breastpumps also offers an array of those. Whatever your style is, just make sure you have a breast pump on hand to help with your supply. Even if you’re not getting much milk from expression, it is helping your body to know to produce more for your baby.
Does it sound too good to be true? It isn’t! Eating the right kind of oatmeal or oatmeal cookies have been shown to increase a mothers milk supply.)* The combination of oats, brewers yeast, and flaxseed seems to do the trick! I’ve found a couple of great make-at-home recipes here and here.
Have a beer.
Again, this is not too good to be true! Hops, fennel, and barley are all known for increasing milk supply — and those are all found in beer! Now, I’m not saying have 5 beers, but an occasional beer before bed has helped myself and other mamas I know to increase our supply.
Pop a fenugreek pill.
Fenugreek, an herb, can be found in many lactation tea blends, but it doesn’t taste very good. With my first child, I bought fenugreek supplements at my local pharmacy (most big box retailers will have them near the prenatal vitamins). These, along with the methods above were honestly the key to my success with exclusively pumping for one whole year with baby number one.
So I will leave you with this advice: Seek out support and know that your body is capable of amazing things. And if at any time you need advice or a listening ear or just to vent, please email me. My first breastfeeding adventure was rough and I still decided to have two more babies and breastfeed them both!
Disclaimer: I am not a physician, nutritionist, or lactation consultant. These are just my personal experiences and experiences of those close to me. Always consult with your physician and lactation consultant. And, as always, FED is best.