After Daisy was born, I struggled to try to produce breastmilk. Given that she was eight weeks early and delivered by C-section, my body wasn’t prepared - and I was exclusively pumping. I worked at it for four months - pumping several times a day only to produce an ounce or two total - and it was frustrating to say the least. With Ella, I was determined to start with a really strong supply - and I did. My freezer is chock-full of breastmilk thanks to a lot of research, advance preparation and the following tips and naturally-occurring breastmilk boosters that I strongly recommend for any nursing mamas.
First, it’s important to remember the obvious: your body will always perform best when you are well-rested, relatively stress-free and eating healthy. Certainly it isn’t easy to log a full 8 hours of sleep a night with a newborn, but, if you can catch some naps throughout the day, it really helps.
I found that eating lots of fruits and vegetables and drinking tons of water really helped keep my supply up. I drank a smoothie made from frozen berries, spinach, kale, ginger, lemon juice and water in the mornings to give me energy and start the day full of nutrients. You can make a big batch and freeze individual Ziploc bags then thaw them in hot water when ready to drink. This cuts down on time. I ate salads packed with greens, raw veggies and lean protein for lunch and dinner and this kept my energy high and my supply strong. Oatmeal, flaxseed and barley are also great foods for nursing moms - sprinkle flaxseed over salad for extra texture or add it into smoothies.
Obviously it isn’t always possible to remove the top half of your clothing and get baby naked to nurse, but, whenever you’re in the comfort of your own home, skin-to-skin is ideal (it’s actually ideal even if you’re not nursing - it helps simulate the feeling of the womb for baby which relaxes them and helps bond you). For mama, being skin-to-skin with baby helps release hormones that stimulate the production of milk. I always find our nursing sessions are best when we’re unencumbered by clothes.
Let’s face it: pumping is the worst. It’s uncomfortable (okay, sometimes just downright painful) and time-consuming. However, I found that pumping in between nursing sessions helped keep my supply way up and it also enabled me to store away lots of extra breastmilk for when I decide to stop nursing altogether but still want Ella to benefit from breastmilk.
Naturally-Occurring Breastmilk Boosters
Homeopathic and medical doctors and specialists all agree that these five things found in nature help to boost the production of breastmilk naturally with no harm to mom:
I found the best way to incorporate these into my daily routine was via supplements in the morning and at night, tea twice a day and a bag of lactation cookies after dinner (the cookies are ridiculously delicious, by the way). These were my favorite products:
Amazing Nutrition Brewers Yeast Tablets
Pink Stork Liquid Gold: Breastfeeding and Lactation Support Tea
UpSpring Milkflow Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle Powder Berry Drink Mix
Milkmakers Lactation Cookie Bites, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, 10 Count
I hope these tips are helpful for my fellow nursing mamas. Feeding our babies isn't easy! Here are some links and resources you may also find interesting:
Breastfeeding Page - American Pregnancy Association
How to Increase Your Milk Supply Naturally - Mama Natural
Breastfeeding Resources from the Office on Women's Health
50 Best Breastfeeding Resources on the Web - Cafe Mom
Breastfeeding Resources from Evidence-Based Birth