I was fortunate enough to have the ability to nurse my daughter for 13 months with absolutely no milk supply issues! I was totally an over-researcher in the beginning stages of nursing. I constantly worried that I would run into issues with my supply so I did everything possible to make sure that I never got to that point. I’m going to share the tips that worked for me but know that every body and nursing situation is different.
I mindlessly ate so much during the first few months of nursing. The key to this is to make sure that you’re eating nutrient rich foods (especially if weight loss is a major concern). I made sure to eat all of the foods that were stated to increase milk supply.
Examples of my favorite lactogenic foods include: spinach, salmon, sweet potatoes, all green leafy vegetables, oatmeal, green beans, nuts, and asparagus.
Because you burn so many calories when you’re nursing, you can definitely increase your caloric intake. Just make sure that it’s healthy, nutrient rich, milk supply boosting foods. Now you can nurse efficiently, eat well, and also lose weight.
Bonus: one of my favorite things to eat were these nursing cookies by Milkmakers. I purchased them at Babies R Us but you can also buy them here on Amazon. I highly believe that they increased my supply. There are also tons of recipes on Pinterest for lactation cookies.
If you deliver in the hospital, use that jug to make sure that you’re drinking enough water. I honestly didn’t keep track of the exact amount that I was drinking. I did make sure to drink an entire jug during each meal and before/during each nursing session.
Other amazing ways to increase your fluid intake would be to drink green juices (get those fruits, veggies, and fluids all at once), coconut water, or mother’s milk tea. I don’t know if the Mother’s Milk Tea was legit but I drank it often because it was approved by my OB and it tasted pretty good too.
Note: try to avoid drinks with components that would dehydrate you, ex: caffeine.
I didn’t drink coffee during my entire pregnancy so I was extremely excited the minute Baby E was born so I could down coffee every day. I realized the negative affects that it was having on her and my supply after one day and completely eliminated it from my diet. After my supply was pretty established (about 3 months), I slowly reintroduced coffee.
3. Nurse on demand (or pump at frequent, consistent intervals)
If you’re exclusively nursing in the beginning, do it ALWAYS. Our bodies rely on the supply and demand aspect of nursing. The only way your body will continue to produce milk is if the supply is there. When your infant shows any signs of hunger, attempt to nurse- even if it’s not on the normal schedule. Your bodies have a connection and the nursing process helps to establish that connection. In the first 3 months, I nursed endlessly. It was easy at the time because there was only one baby that needed my focus. If you have multiple children or are feeding multiples, I would try to incorporate more help so that you are able to heavily focus on nursing.
4. Power pumping!
Power pumping is AMAZING but also risky. It increases your milk supply by telling your body that the baby wants more milk right now. It imitates an infant cluster feeding for an hour.
Pump for 20 minutes. Rest for 10 minutes. Pump for 10 minutes. Rest for 10 minutes. Pump for a final 10 minutes.
That is one hour of power pumping. Some women said that they did it 3 times a day and were able to store extra milk. I found that to be excess since I was nursing on demand. I did try to do this at least once or twice a week.
I said that it was risky earlier, by that I mean you could be disturbing your body’s natural supply. This can lead to constant leakage, engorgement, and possibly mastitis. So I would recommend only power pumping if you’re absolutely sure that your supply is diminishing!
When you’re nursing and pumping, use your hands! When you massage your breast, you stimulate and activate several different ducts. This can lead to more milk released from the ducts and ultimately more milk released and produced during the feedings.
6. Utilize heat
During the first 3 months, I applied warm gel pads to my breasts before each feeding and nursing session. This was mostly because I was terrified of getting mastitis so I wanted to make sure that my ducts were being completely emptied during each feeding. Heat causes your vessels to vasodilate, which basically means they get looser and wider. This creates a much easier path for blood to flow. When you put heat on your breast, your opening and relaxing your blood vessels and ultimately releasing your milk prior to nursing. Heat will help facilitate the let-down reflex.
7. Always empty your breast for your milk supply
Definitely do this once your supply has already been established. This specifically applies to the mothers with sleepy babies (like Baby E). She would fall asleep (completely satiated) before I was able to put her on the other side. This left one breast completely plump and full. I originally thought that I would wait until she woke up and nurse her on that side. I realized that doing this lessened my supply since I was telling my body that I didn’t need to nurse for 6+ hours. My left breast produced less milk for a few weeks until I realized that I needed to empty my breast in order. I started to pump the opposite breast whenever she had fallen asleep. Doing this even both sides, emptied my breast completely, and gave me some extra milk to store.
This includes to not skip a feeding– if you’re away from your baby, PUMP! It may seem easier to let your body become engorged. If your skip a feeding and pumping, this tells your body that you don’t need to make milk at this time.
8. Keep your baby close
As I’ve said, our bodies are in the process of creating a connection. The mother and baby connection is so pure and so intense.
Doing skin-to-skin contact is key in establish your milk supply. The baby’s sounds (cooing, crying, etc) can help stimulate your milk let down. I tended to take naps with Baby E on my chest. (Safety first, obvs- keep a close eye on the positioning of you and the babe.) She also slept on my chest while I binge watched television shows on Netflix.
Other ways to keep your baby close include: babywearing, cosleeping, sleeping in the same room, etc.)
9. Use the right support
This is where your bras and t-shirts matter! Opt for a nursing tank or a nursing bra instead of a regular bra and especially an underwire bra! You need as much blood circulating to your breasts as possible. You also want to make sure that you’re not blocking any ducts in the process.
10. Relax! Seriously, chill!
Easier said than done, I know. Just think- your body is made for this. There may be road bumps and a difficult path ahead but there is always an option. Fortunately, formula is an option. I highly believe and support all breastfeeding women but I also think that a well fed child is the happiest child and a happy child leads to a happy mother.
So try to relax; try to believe in your body. Stress is one of the biggest inhibitors for milk production. The less stress you have, the more milk you are able to produce.
I hope that these ten tips help any of you struggling to produce milk right now! Tip number 10 is your best bet in these situations. My daughter was fed breast milk exclusively for 13 months and I’m really proud of it. It did take a lot of mindfulness on my part to make sure that I wasn’t doing anything to limit or plummet my supply. If you have any tips that you’d like to share to help any of the moms reading this, please comment below and let us know!
Thanks for reading! 🙂