Let’s be honest ladies. While it’s no secret that breast is best for our little ones, breastfeeding does not come easy to everyone (and that’s ok too). No two boobs, babies and experiences are alike. My breastfeeding experience with my oldest child and my 7 week old are like night and day. I went from barely producing enough milk first time around to pumping 30+oz a day (within 10 minutes flat) in addition to nursing the second time around. I know it’s long but I promise it’s worth the read. Here are my 5 natural tips for increasing your milk supply.
Uninterrupted Skin to Skin Immediately After Delivery
Did you know that you can request extended skin to skin/bonding time with your baby post delivery? I only had 20 minutes with my 1st born before he was whisked off to the nursery. My second delivery I had a full 2.5 hours with my son. I just made my request to my nurses and doctor once I was admitted. Uninterrupted skin to skin post delivery causes hormones that regulate lactation to balance out, helping you produce more milk. It also reduces stress levels for both baby and mommy, stabilizes baby’s heart rate/breathing rate, and regulates his/her blood sugar. Skin to skin should be uninterrupted to maximize these amazing benefits. The longer you do skin to skin, the better for both you and your baby!
It’s as simple as this: The more your baby nurses on you, the more breast milk your body will produce. Once your breasts are emptied out your brain gets the signal that your baby needs more, hence the floodgates open! Good ol’ supply and demand. What is removed is replaced. What is left behind provides feedback to our brains to not produce excess milk. The best advice I received about nursing was from my nurse during my postpartum recovery. She said “don’t follow a strict schedule while nursing right now. Feed your son when he wants to be fed. Let your baby decide for how long as well.” With my oldest son, my night nurse actually pressured me into supplementing with formula because he was crying and wanting to nurse constantly (she may have had her own agenda). My gut told me no no no no no (cue Destiny’s child). However, me being a 1st time mom feeling overwhelmed and afraid I listened to her. My son ended up having issues with latching, rejecting the breast and preferring the bottle. In hindsight, I realize my baby was just being that..a baby. He was less than 36 hours old and cluster feeding. Cluster feeding is when babies bunch feeds close together at certain times of the day or night (before big naps and during growth spurts). I just needed to be patient and confident that my body was giving him exactly what he needed. A baby constantly wanting to nurse is PERFECTLY NORMAL. Needless to say, I did not make that mistake with my second son.
Pump After Nursing
This tip coincides with my previous tip. In order to ensure your breasts are completely drained you want to establish a good pumping routine after feeding. Again, if your breasts are emptied out your brain gets the signal that you need to produce more milk. If your breast feel extremely sore or hard to the touch, pumping will drain the breasts, relieving that pain and pressure (engorgement). Pumping after nursing allows you to have a stash on hand for Dad or additional caregivers to feed your baby while you nap, run errands, etc. If you’re going to be heading back to work, establishing a pumping routine early will make for a smoother transition. It will also help you build a larger stash.
The best times to pump are right when you wake up and right after feeding baby.
Build Your Tribe
Deciding to exclusively nurse your baby is a huge commitment. It’s essential to surround yourself with women/moms who can relate, provide advice and just supportive people in general. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people questioned if I was adequately feeding both of my sons (family, friends and even strangers!). Without a supportive tribe your feelings of anxiousness, worry, and lack of confidence will over power you and make you feel like you’re not up to par. Those feelings will inhibit hormones that encourage lactation. Less stress equates to a higher milk supply. My best friend/godmother of my sons was (and is) the most helpful. We constantly bounce tips, concerns and stories off on another. There are also online forums such as La Leche League , What To Expect , The Bump and countless others for you to lean on!
Go on Vacation
This vacay requires no plane or passport because it’s local and free! You are going on a nursing vacation. You would essentially spend the weekend (uninterrupted & skin to skin) in bed with your baby. Those hours of nursing will boost your supply like nothing else! If possible, enlist the help of family and friends to help with household chores. If you have another child in the home let him/her lay with you occasionally for nap time/quiet time. Since I have a 3 year old I used this time to put him down for his nap or watch his favorite shows. This will ensure that your eldest won’t feel pushed aside by his/her new sibling.
The decision to nurse exclusively is a huge commitment. It’s important that you remain patient and confident in your decision to breastfeed your baby. Just let things flow naturally. Don’t let anyone pressure you into thinking your not doing enough or make you question what feels natural to you. Listen to your mommy instincts and trust your body. Everything else will take care of itself. Also, if you find that you’re still having a hard time don’t beat yourself up over it either. Do whatever works for you and your baby!
I really hope my tips & experience are helpful to you! What was your nursing experience like? How did you go about trying to increase your milk supply?