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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)
(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.
(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.
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!)
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The Lactator (Love the ring to it haha)