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Breastfeeding, Parenthood

10 ways to increase Breastmilk Supply (even when baby is a few months old, yes it’s possible! and doable!)

8 Sep , 2014  

#infoticle #breastfeeding #pumping #increasingsupply

Here is a breastfeeding article that may be useful to many bf moms, hope it helps! RayRay is 8mo now, which also marks the age of my bf journey. Woohoo! I am glad I decided to just plunge straight into this foreign world of bf, and give what I can to little bubs. Though I battled with a case of mastitis, (thank god it was just once!) blocked ducts (thank god the one time I had the stupid blocked duct, it didn’t blow up into mastitis!), struggled with oversupply, and then doubted and feared the worst when my supply dipped, I am happy I plunged headlong with no reservations.

My childless, single friends are tickled that BF no longer means boyfriends, and can’t understand when I talk about the supply and demand of BF as if it was a science, nor comprehend my satisfaction when I have achieved the nirvana of just the right balance between over and undersupply. (Scroll to bottom or next article on free nursing cover giveaway!)

Now that I’ve started working and moved from being a fully Direct Latching (DL) mom to pumping during office hours, (OH HOW I HATE PUMPING. KUDOS TO THOSE EXCLUSIVELY PUMPING MOMS. RESPECT MAX), it’s another stage of my bf journey as I measure the output in ML and ounces and start a new round of doubting about supply.

BREASTFEEDING BACKGROUND & CONTEXT
Before I write about how to increase supply, I’d like to share abit of my bf background. Outside of work hours, I am a DL mom breastfeeding around the clock. When I first went back to work after 16 wks of maternity leave (it is LESS than 4months ok!), I pumped 3x a day, once at about 9.30am – 10am, once between 12 – 2pm, and once between 3.30 – 4.30pm. Initially, my supply was excellent, yielding about 300 – 400ml for the first pump, and 100 – 250ml for the subsequent pumps.

As my LO doesn’t take so much during the day (only about 300ml, he takes the rest when I’m with him), this was major oversupply, and led to laziness and complacency on my part. I slowly substituted the 2nd pump for hand expression. Once I reached 100ml (size of bottle), I stopped. Then over time, I occasionally dropped the middle pump too.

With laziness and work demands, my supply then went through a period of dipping around the 6month period, where my output for the day would add up to 300ml during office hours (which is exactly enough for bubs). This lasted for a month thereabouts and was a far cry from the easily achievable 600-700ml that I used to get. It is also said that after the first month or two, when supply is established, it cannot be increased, but seriously, if there is such a thing as relactation, and dip in supply, there has gotta be a way to increase supply I reckon. Worried that my supply would drop further, I decided that I needed to buck up, especially since Ray doesn’t seem to take to solids much yet, and is still very much dependent on BM. *Note, babies under the age of 1 should primarily be on milk feeds. Milk feeds are not meant to be replaced by solids*

So I took the following steps and am happy to report that with effort, supply is back up to 500 – 600ml daily (during office hours, last pump at 4pm) again! Yay! So all bf moms, no matter which stage of bf you’re at, increasing supply is possible, albeit slow when you’re reigniting the fire in your engine!

 

10 Tried and Tested ways to increase supply

(1)     Adequate liquid intake: I drank more water, about 2+ l a day? Kellymom reports that the average non-pregger woman drinks about 2.2l/9 cups a day, a pregnant lady 2.3l/10 cups a day, while the lactating mom drinks about 3.1l/13 cups. Follow your body’s cues and drink to satiation (no thirst). However, I know of moms who in their eagerness, drink 5 – 8l of water daily. That’s just crazy in my opinion, and can lead to water intoxication/poisoning

(2)     Adequate calories intake: One should take in additional calories when breastfeeding, both for mother’s own nutritional requirements as well as to produce milk for bubs. I don’t mean that you should gorge on food, though it is a delicious excuse sometimes hahah.

(3)     Fenugreek Supplements: Fenugreek is a galactagogue that has been used for eons to promote milk supply. I bought my fenugreek (610mg) from iherb, and started with taking 3 pills, 3x a day. The average recommended dosage is (580-610mg) 2-4pills, 3x a day, and you are said to achieve a happy balance when you smell like maple syrup (I was actually excited to smell like maple syrup, but nope, I didn’t)

  • NOTE: I saw fenugreek as a quick-fix solution and didn’t want to be reliant on it. Some moms reportedly see a difference after 2 – 3 days, but for me, the difference was minimal. However, over time, my supply did increase. After going through 2/3 of the box, I made a mental note to slowly cut down the dosage by 1 pill a day, until I was down to zero. I read that going cold turkey MAY affect your supply (makes logical sense too) so I just wanted to avoid that. Hence, I slowly adjusted the intake from 9 pills a day, to 8, to 7….And my supply is stable and happy right now.
  • Iherb: You can buy fenugreek from http://www.iherb.com?rcode=FRJ250. It’s supposedly cheaper (I didn’t compare prices but lots of moms said so) and you should buy fenugreek from a reputable drugstore as the quality of fenugreek matters. If you input Iherb code FRJ250, you can get $10 off your first purchase!
  • Other galactagogues: Fennel seeds (not a galactagogue per se, but helps to trigger letdown), blessed thistle, mother’s milk tea, goat’s rue (a main ingredient in manyn ursing tea), nursing tea, brewer’s yeast etc

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(4)     Pumping Regularly: Never underestimate the power of pumping regularly. I returned to the old workhorse routine of pumping every 3 -4hours, and the maximum I went was 4.5h. Even if I am super busy on a day and am unable to squeeze in a pump session, I would just go to the toilet to hand express the milk into the sink for 5mins (with at least one letdown), just to maintain the supply. It’s about balance; it’s about demand and supply.

(5)     Power Pump: Amongst the methods that I’ve tried, I felt that power pumping made the most difference for me. As a DL mom on weekends, with 8 gadzillion things to do, plus the fact that I honestly have this love-hate relationship going on with pumping, (HATE Pumping but boh pian since I’m a FTWM), I would lunch in and use lunchtime to do a power pump session instead. To powerpump, you need to pump 20mins, rest 10mins, pump 10 mins, rest 10mins and pump 10mins to make up an hour of pumping. Power pumping mimics a baby’s growth spurt, which tells your body more milk is needed, so continue the power pump even if no milk comes out. Or when you feel a slight tingle, pump and massage (.)(.) at the same time to get the most out of that letdown (if it is a letdown, you will see milk squirting when previously there was nothing). These days, I no longer have to pump 1 hour just to get the same yield! Yay!

(6)     Consume lactogenic food: Lactogenic Food is basically milk-boosting food. Different food works for different moms, so you gotta experiment and find your sweet spot. Frankly, I am not sure what food works for me but during the time when my supply was lower, I would try and incorporate some lactogenic food into my diet.

  1. Some of the food, from what I’ve read that are top milk boosters for moms:
    Oats (overnight oats, oatmeals, etc), Durians, Fish (quite a few mentioned salmon), Cereals with oats/fenugreek/fennel seeds etc, papaya (can be papaya soy milk, papaya fish soup etc), barley water, nuts (almonds, macadamia, cashew), yam, carrots, watercress, sweet potatoes, green, leafy veg, brewer’s yeast, lactating cookies etc

(7)     Be Happy: Your state of mind matters. Cortisol, released when stressed, can affect letdown and pumping output. Personally, I think when I am stressed, pump output doesn’t seem to be as good.

IMG_6264[1]Love the satisfied, lalaland look on little one after he is done with nursing!

(8)     Maximising letdowns: Key to maximizing output is increasing the no. of letdowns. For some moms, you may think that you no longer have letdown but that is not true. You just have to be attuned to even the slightest tingling sensation to know if you have a letdown, which you can check by squeezing/massaging the boobies and milk squirts. I guess it right sometimes, and wrong the other times. No harm squeezing boobies just to confirm ;). I maximise the letdowns by massaging the boobs, so that more milk gets out in a shorter time!

(9)     Strip baby naked and have lots of skinship: For the distracted babies, they may not want to latch which then affects your supply. What you have to do then is to attract them to latch, which you can do in a quiet, familiar environment (minimizing distractions), and have lots of skinship so that the oxytocin hormones and all that can do the latching attraction business for you. There was once when he was littler and started to show impatience with latching. Stripping him and having a nursing holiday (where both bubs and you spend time together at home, letting him nurse as often as he wants) really helped him to get back into the groove of nursing.

(10)Nurseplay: Sometimes, my little distracted bugger would latch for 2 minutes and then unlatch. Sometimes, there is a precursor to him unlatching, say for example when he starts kicking his outer leg or when he starts squirming. To prolong the nursing (OH the ridiculous things we moms do!), I would quickly kiss his hand or his foot (which he loves and he would giggle while continuing to nurse), intermittently as he continues to suckle. He seems to have understood that these footsie moments hahah is tied to nursing, LOL.

Ok, so that’s my trade secrets all out there now hahah! I know the stress you moms feel when supply drops so I am going to let you in on another secret – supply fluctuates all the time. It could be something you ate that day, or maybe, it could just be that the wind decided to blow northwest instead of southwest, so don’t keep fretting. As long as you maintain your pump/latching or throw in a few measures to increase supply, it will return back to normal. If you have any questions regarding BF, feel free to comment in this blog or on my facebook page (dont PM me on my personal profile, they disappear!), and I will be happy to answer whatever questions you may have!

As for husbands/dads who think that wifeys are having an easy time breastfeeding, if you fell asleep halfway reading this article, please know that your wife has to plough through all these articles and variants of it in order to make breastfeeding look as easy as it looks to you! Please give your wife a kiss (or better yet, a SURPRISE. Trust me, surprises NEVER get old hahah) for saving you hundreds of bucks from buying formula (and possibly doctor visits). That $100 dinner bill you paid doesn’t seem so expensive now, does it? Heheh,

Check out my other post on 7 Uses for a Nursing Cover you never knew and stand to win a nursing cover from Mummy’s Love (free nursing cover in lovely designs, why not?!? Sign me up scotty!)

if you like this article and would like to be kept updated on my other posts, as well as other interesting and useful parenting articles and information to engage your babies, do follow/like me at www.facebook.com/jashuatbaby or click on the Facebook icon on this website! 

Xox

The Lactator (Love the ring to it haha)

 

 

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16 Responses

  1. Kristina Chen says:

    Hi ,
    Need so help here . I’m a exclusive pumping mom and I have very little milk . I’ve tried all the mention method but it did not help much . Recently I notice that there r lumps in the breast which I can’t remove despite massaging . Is it normal to have lumps in the middle of the breast when the breast is soft ?

    • projectjasmine says:

      Hi Kristina

      How long did you persist with the above methods? It took me about a month before my supply increased, so from what you described, it sounds like you may have blocked ducts. Blocked ducts may cause the milk to hit a ‘dam’, which prevents proper drainage of milk, which may then lead to low supply over time. I suggest you make an appointment for a massage. My friend said that when she went for a massage, her milk ‘sprayed gloriously’ lol, so maybe that can help you! Good luck!

  2. Angelin Anjali says:

    Hi would like to ask abt Ur anyhow as me too just went back to work and do not see the required yield. As u go abt the regular schedule do u pump when u r w Ur lo also? If yes do u pump before latching or unlayching. As I would need to pump for an hr just to get 4oz. So really hoping to be up my supply.

    • projectjasmine says:

      Hi Angelin
      I try not to pump with my LO, but certainly, pumping plus latching (ie keeping breasts empty as often as possible is a way to increase supply)will increase supply. Pump only after latching your baby (otherwise, baby isn’t gonna be happy with empty boobies!). Do try power pumping. And you can Like my page to be kept updated on more parenting articles ( I do write qt a few articles on bf)

  3. Ying Xin says:

    Hi,

    May I know how long did u take to increase ur milk supply? Also, usually what I do is I will pump for a few mins (approx 5 mins). Then massage for a while, and start again. The massage a while then start again. Usually for each pump there is only one let down. Last time used to have two. Do u suggest that i continue pumping for 10 mins even though there is no more milk? For power pumping, we need to pump for the whole 20/10 mins even though there isnt any milk?

    TIA!

    Ying Xin

    • projectjasmine says:

      Hi Ying Xin

      Probably you can try to play with the power/suction settings on your pump. I used to power it to the max or Level 4 out of 5, but these days, or these months, I find that that doesn’t work for me anymore! So instead, I set the level to 2 or 3, and I find that that helps in stimulation and hence letdowns a lot more.

      I think it took me about a few weeks to a month before my supply reached a new happy point where it stabilised to 450-600ml a day instead of the miserable 300+ml a day at my lowest point. Some pp apparently can see increase in a week, but not for me!

      The idea behind power pump is the need for more milk, so yes, do continue to pump even though there is no milk. When I tried power pumping after a certain time, there wouldnt be any milk anymore BUT when it hits a letdown, there will be milk again (maybe one letdown every 10 – 20mins?

      Let me know if it works 🙂

  4. j says:

    Hi, have a query – my FBM tastes like vomit and the taste gets worse if frozen for longer period of time. Do you have the same problem? My baby rejects such milk!

    • projectjasmine says:

      Hi J

      The reason why your FBM smells and tastes like vomit is cuz of excess lipase. Some babies are completely fine with taking FBM, some are not. Because my baby is picky, and doesnt take much milk when Im not around, I have never given him a drop of FBM haha.

      However, if you want your baby to start taking your FBM, you can try to treat the lipase issue. For this, you need to scald your milk before freezing them. This removes some nutrients from the milk, but hey, better than taking FM i reckon, and letting that milk go to waste.

      You can read up on this link for more info – http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/milkstorage/lipase-expressedmilk/

      You can also try to mix FBM and EBM in varying ratios to get your baby to take the milk. For example, 20% FBM and 80% EBM, and when your baby takes it, you can slowly increase the FBM mix.

      Good luck! (Btw, I am running a flash giveaway for a parenthood seminar – do check it out at http://www.facebook.com/jashuatbaby to win free passes to a talk on baby nutrition etc)

  5. Vivian says:

    Hi thanks for the encouraging blog. I m facing the same problem. I m going to return to work soon on my 4th month. Have been full time dl. My pump supply never exceed 2oZ per session. Because my lo very clingy latch most of the time I hardly get any chance to pump.U mementioned u get 300ml per day does that mean from 3 sessions? Do I stand chance to increase supply? I m using spectra m1. Cud it because of the pump I used ?

    • projectjasmine says:

      Hi Vivian

      Good to know! Supply does gradually dip over time, but with hard work and perseverance, you can increase your supply, though not immediately. Try to increase skinship (strip baby to his diapers) between bubs n u, and head for a nursing holiday! I personally find that power pumping really helps! All the best and happy early lunar new year!

  6. angel says:

    hi im really envious u girls have so much breastmilk. so lucky. I mean 300ml-600ml? all I have is 20ml total a day. Serious. each time I pump only few drops come out and I pump few times a day so 5ml accumulated through the day I only get 15-20ml total a day. Is tis equivalent to not breastfeeding? Must as well don’t give sometimes I feel. IS tis pathetic amount of any help? Btw bb is 6 months now n not able to latch him since 3 months as he will scream, kick n bite (literally pull my nipples till hurts without sucking) so no choice cant latch but only pump. Right from the first day im discharged from hospital, bb is already drinking 90% formula and very little breastmilk so I feel guilty and try to prolong till now but seriously does few drops of 15-20ml help? or I should stop pumping since tats all I can really give. First 3months I only manage maybe 2-3 latch a day so maybe he only drink 50ml a day. I gauged tis amount coz there were days I was so depressed n unable to latch but pump only n the amount measured total abt 50-60ml a day (my hub has been making me cry constantly with his selfish ways n I realize now its coz he has been doin things behind my back n trying to push me out of tis relationship, sorry for sharing n ranting too much but coz of him, it affected my breastfeeding. Past month ive even been struggling all on my own like a single mum as he abandoned me n bb to spend time with **) Tats not the way to treat a postnatal mum right after delivery! Being carried away here sorry. Anw m I a bad mum for only giving total in a day 50-60ml (first 3months) then now only 20ml (3months till now). Im trying so hard to maintain supply but tats all I got. Any advice?

    • projectjasmine says:

      Dear Angel, was sad to read this but what I wanna say before anything else is that you are NOT a bad mom. Although I’m a big BF advocate, BF is NOT the one and only means to being a good mother. I know of plenty of wonderful mothers who have never breastfed before, and that includes my own mother who has given me so much. When your child grows up and sees this very comment that you have made 20 years later, he/she will understand your heart and know that you have given him/her so very much. So don’t be too harsh on yourself!
      Onto more technical matters, if your bubs is only 3 months now, it will not be easy to get your volume up, but certainly this can be done. What pump are you using? How often do you pump in the course of an entire day (24h?) How long do you pump each time? Only after you let me know this will I be able to try and see if there are any problems that I can identify!
      Meanwhile, hope you can stay with me, and keep your spirits up! Ur husband sounds like a nincompoop. Try to talk to him nicely and see if matters can be hopefully resolved. If you have tried all ways to mend this relationship and he insists on being a jerk, Im sorry Mama, but looks like you have to be an even stronger mama for your little precious! We mamas can do it, so hang in there Angel!

  7. angel says:

    Hi thanks for ur reply..Regards to ur questions, im using Avent pump and I don’t have a fixed schedule of pumping (depends on hw much attention bb requires from me) but will tend to pump between 3-5 times a day. Whenever bb is sleeping or not needing attention like wanting me to carry/play, then I will hv free time n I will make use of this free time to pump. I pump for about 15minutes each session but a lot of times it can b empty for 10 minutes n then during the last 5min then some milk will drop (drop by drop, not flow). Then after 15min of pumping, I will hand squeeze again. N I really try to squeeze very hard to squeeze out drop by drop till a point no matter how hard I squeeze still dry. Then I will stop. The problem is tat bb really refuses to latch. If he latches I think will help a lot. Don’t know how to get him to RELEARN to latch on again. He’s now 6 months, but he has been not latching since 3 months. Past 3 months is using pump. Anyway regarding my hubs, I m very distraught already. I am trying to be a strong mama for my bb but my hubs has not been around for like a month plus almost 2months already. He is now staying at the new flat. Last weekend, went to our new flat (which I shared to pay together with him, yet he didn’t give me access to it). I could only wait foolishly outside my own flat (which I paid for yet cannot enter), waited till 1am while he was out enjoying himself with ****. N he got the cheek to ask me what im doing at “his” house. He is cheating behind while im dutifully taking care of bb, yet he insists on claiming bb one day when he feels like it. Bb had fever last week n I informed him yet he can go out n enjoy himself without even bothering to come over n visit his own child. What should I do? I know tis thread is about breastfeeding but I m so helpless tat I cant help seeking advice on my tis other issue too. Sorry. Im worried my bb will be taken away n be in the hands of an irresponsible father with a bad nature

    • projectjasmine says:

      Well, this blogsite is mostly about us parents, so it doesn’t matter if it’s breastfeeding or anything! Wrt to BF, I think if you really want to increase your yield, you need to be pumping more than 3 – 5 times a day. Perhaps 5 – 8 times? Of course, with work and looking after bubs, this may not be very possible. So I just wanna highlight that if you want an increased yield, you’d need to pump more and try the steps I outlined in this article, otherwise, you just need to accept that output will not be able to increase much (it’s fine to feeds bubs FM, we do the best we can!)

      It may also be abit difficult to let bubs learn to relatch, though this would be much easier than pumping IMO. Some tips you can try includes squeezing abit of BM and applying them on your nipple to try and entice bubs. Make sure bubs isn’t too hungry or he’d get frustrated, and isn’t too full till he’s disinterested.

      As for the cheating husband, try not to get angry or stressed, it makes you more susceptible to depression! Your mental health is important, so that you can be the strong mama that you are for bubs. If possible, try to mend your relationship. It it is beyond mending, try to collect evidence of him cheating, be it screenshots of his phone text msgs to the 3rd party, his nasty smses to you (if any), photos of him and 3rd party etc. But please be careful, I am not sure if he is violent or anything but keep yourself safe! These evidence that you collect will help you if he so decides to challenge you in court one day. Meanwhile, stay safe and connected to your family, they will be an important bridge of support. Also, not sure if you are working but do try to get employment if you aren’t so at least you are able to take care of your own needs with bubs if hubs is not doing anything. It’s going to be tough, no doubt, but we women are stronger than we think!

  8. Grace says:

    Hello, i chanced upon your blog by accident and came upon this post. Thank you for the tips.. Im not sure my supply is dropping cos im mostly DL all day and if i have time, i pump 1-2x a day.

    Reason why i dont pump often is because 1) baby rarely nap and if he does its w me nursing him, otherwise he wakes up after an hr odd. By then he will be crying for milk and i will have empty breasts if i pump.

    2) he doesnt drink till hes full at one go. Take one breast doze off.. Nap for awhile wakeup and feed again.

    3) i done own a carrier yet hence one person has to look after or carry him all e time. Im usually on my own So for the first two mths im confined to my bed and hold him while he zzzz 🙁

    Now that my family is helping me, i wanna pump more to freeze and store for first two days to give nanny when i go back to work in two wks time.

    I suspect supply may be dropping as my breast also doesnt get full so easily anymore. Used to be every 2hrs not take about 4-5 hrs.

    Thank you

    • projectjasmine says:

      Hi Grace!

      Happy to share tips with fellow mums! Yeah, I didn’t pump until I went back to work either so it’s ok 🙂
      If your boobs dont feel full, it’s because your supply is meeting demand, and has reached a happy equilibrium. If you wanna increase ur supply, try the tips mentioned but pump only after bubs feed, so that e doesn’t get hungry! It will take time but supply should increase 🙂

      Jiayou!

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