After posting a photo on Instagram, I’ve been getting lots of questions about milk supply! You ask + I answer! Always feel free to drop questions there!
The longer I’ve been a momma, the more I’ve learned: each momma + baby are different. We’ll all face different challenges along the way. What works for one momma may not work for another. This is my first little babe, so I have exactly 1 experience. I read this article + thought this much more experienced momma + lactation consultant had a lot of great points.
I’ve been blessed with an overproduction of milk, mainly from the right side. I honestly wish I had some secret tip for all of you, but I don’t. I don’t eat a magic cookie + I certainly don’t pump after each nursing session. I asked questions + learned as I went. My experience is what I’ll be sharing with you!
Tips for Increasing + Maintaining Milk Supply
Visit a lactation consultant. Max + I headed to an expert because of my incredibly sore + painful nipples early on. I actually called at 3 am + left a voicemail because I knew I couldn’t take the pain any more . We were able to see her the next day. It turned out Max had tongue tie + because I had inverted nipples we were doomed. BUT, the lactation consultant was the first one to notice his tongue tie + I also learned a TON of other great tips from our time together. She helped us position ourselves better, made sure his latch was correct, + emphasized nursing him on both sides (even though at that time it seemed like he was having trouble on the left). Growing your knowledge + gaining confidence from a professional who has seen it all before is a great way to make sure your babe + you are on a good path to breastfeeding (+milk supply).
Have the right supplies. Position is SO important when the little babes are learning to latch. I recommend having a nursing pillow or two to help you out. We started with the My Brest Friend Original Nursing Pillow + also have the Boppy Nursing Pillow. I would highly recommend purchasing an extra cover or two for each of them. Find a cute Brest Friend cover here and Boppy covers here and here (Max has this one). You need the extra covers because your baby will likely pee, poop, + spit up on them…it’s nice not to have to do the laundry immediately when that happens.
Feed Frequently. My husband + I couldn’t believe how often Max wanted to nurse when he was a newborn. Sometimes it would be 30 minutes after he had finished the previous nursing session. He gave us all the signals + we learned to listen + believe that he wanted to nurse again that soon! Their little bellies are SO small at that point. It is recommended that they feed every 2-3 hours + on demand during the newborn stage (Max demanded a lot). Side note: He would take about 45 minutes to eat when he was new. Now this little guy has mastered getting milk from the boob, he can do it in just under 10 minutes. I just want to encourage mommas that they get more efficient at feeding + it gets SO much easier as you both figure it out.
After going back work…I make sure to nurse him whenever I’m with him (instead of having daddy give him a bottle). Even if I’m going to the gym I try to do it between feedings, just so that Maxwell is at my breasts as much as possible. This is proven to help with milk supply + let’s be honest…I get enough of the pump at work.
Let that big boob flow. My right side has produced more milk from the very beginning. It was the side that Max could more easily nurse from, thus it started producing more. The lactation consultant told me if I didn’t mind the lopsided appearance, she would recommend not slowing it down because he would need more milk as he grew (she said the left might never catch up, which so far has been true) + in the meantime I could start stocking up a supply for when I headed back work. I took her advice! Just to give you an idea when I pump at work the right will pump about 8 oz and the left will pump 2-3 oz. Honestly, I don’t worry about the appearance as you can see from my 30th birthday party dress. Just embrace + rock it mommas! The overproducing boob has helped me to gain a stock of about 1,000 oz.
Learn to manually express. Max never needed to be convinced to eat, he has always been a hungry little guy. But, as Lindsey Shipley of Lactation Link puts it, “Hand expression is something every mom should know how to do! It can help with enticing the baby to latch, keeping them latched, and ensuring your milk supply.” Before I ever broke out my Breast Pump, I always hand expressed if my boobs were still full after Max ate. In the middle of the night it was much easier than pumping + there was a stretch where I was getting 2-4 oz after each feeding by doing this. I always had clean bottles at my nursing stations + would save even 1 oz of hand expressed milk.
Don’t worry about weight loss. For the first month of Max’s life I remember being SO hungry + thirsty. All of the sudden in the middle of the night I would be starving + eating 3 am peanut butter balls. During this period, my only form of exercise was walks because I wanted to focus on healing. The weight came off steady without me focusing on it + my milk supply was ample. My point is EAT when you are hungry + make sure you are well hydrated. Listen to your body! All the “rules” about not eating in the middle of the night go out the window because your baby certainly doesn’t have any grasp of what time it is.
Have a support system. When the going gets tough with breastfeeding, it is a great idea to have some people to support you. My friends Abby + Lisa were constantly answering breastfeeding questions for me + encouraging me along the way. People are more than willing to help + support new mommas because they are able to remember how challenging the newborn period can be. My husband would also wake up with me in the middle of the night to get Max from the bassinet, bring him to my breast, burp him afterward, + put him back down. Drew did this when he was home with us the first 2 weeks + also on the weekends. We tried to get Drew a good amount of sleep when he went back to work since he wouldn’t have an opportunity to nap during the day. The support will help your breastfeeding experience + milk supply!
Don’t stress. Easier said than done, right? Haha, just as Natalie put it in her infertility blog…this piece of advice is typically not helpful. I will say a little bit of planning does go a long way. Drew would make a bunch of food at once, so it was easy for me to warm something up for lunch…one less thing to worry about. Also, let people take care of you! We welcomed the generous offers of our loved ones bringing us food. If one of my girlfriends said you can go shower when they were over visiting, I went + showered! For me, momma breaks are the most stress relieving thing! Even if our day was busy, I always would take Drew up on the offer of a break…even if it was just a non-rushed shower with Pandora blasting (so I couldn’t hear Maxwell’s crying).
I hope these tips are helpful + encouraging!
I’m going to do another post about my pumping + storing strategies in the near future.
Just to give you an idea: right now I pump after I feed Max in the morning (my boobs are very full) + before bed at night (Max sleeps really well + only wakes up once to nurse…typically). If I’m working that day, I add 2 pumps at work during an 8 hour shift. I’ll go into more detail in the pumping blog, but I certainly don’t pump after each nursing session. That can help supply, but I have to consider my sanity.