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My breastfeeding journey with Addilyn was anything but easy. I battled low supply, and worried constantly about her (lack of) weight gain. I also learned the hard way that products containing Fenugreek actually tanked my milk supply. Like almost made me dry up, which apparently happens for half of the women that try it!
So throughout that journey, I learned a lot of things that I have used to empower myself for my journey with Lilliana! I am so happy to report that I have a fantastic supply, and baby girl is thriving! I primarily nurse, but pump just to have extra in the freezer should I dry up or get sick, etc. With Addilyn, I would feed her and then pump once a day usually. That pumping session I pretty much consistently would get about 2 oz total between both breasts. If I pumped in the middle of the night (without feeding her) I would get about 4 oz total. As I am writing this post, Lillie is 4 weeks old, and I am consistently getting 4-5oz from one side when I pump! That is a major win for this low-supply mama!
All of that to say, I feel like I absolutely MUST share this knowledge with you, my sweet readers. I am sure if you are reading this, mama, you are worried about your own milk supply. I want to be the first to tell you, you are doing fantastic! Keep it up! But these tips and tricks should help make it a bit easier. 🙂
1. A Good Breastpump is SO important!
I cannot stress this enough! I have tried a Spectra S2, Medela, a Motif and a Lansinoh and I have to say that the Spectra S2 is my favorite by far! They all work well, but I get the best milk removal in the shortest time with my Spectra.
If you have insurance, Aeroflow is fantastic! Click that little picture right below here and go fill out the form! They will file your insurance for you and make the whole process so incredibly easy. Take the hassle out! If you don’t have insurance, you can order a Spectra on Amazon and get it right to your house!
2. Use a Haakaa, and do it early!
I discovered this little wonder about 3 months into my breastfeeding journey with Addie, and at that point my supply was already regulated. Still helpful? Sure! You just suction it onto whichever breast your baby isn’t nursing from and it gently draws out the milk and catches your letdown. I am not a leaker, but if you are, this will be even more wonderful for you! No more wasted milk! Even with a regulated supply, I would get about a half or a full ounce out each time I used it. So over the course of the day if I added it all up, I would have about 6oz of milk that I could put in my freezer.
This time, I started using my Haakka when Lillie was about 2 weeks old. This is so important to start early, because if you don’t fully empty your breast, your body will take that as a signal to produce less milk. The Haakaa helps make sure you are fully drawing all of the milk out of your breast which in turn encourages your body to up production! Since I started it earlier this time, I average about 1.5-2oz per breast (sometimes a little more!) when I use it, so I am starting to really stash away some milk!
I absolutely love this because it helps remove (and store up!) milk without having to use your pump that often at all. A pump is still way more efficient and if you need to increase, I would recommend using it at least once a day. But the Haakaa is a great tool to have!
You will hear some people say that they don’t work. I beg to differ! I swear by them and can tell a difference same-day! The big things that have worked for me are Oatmeal (or anything containing oats!), Brewer’s Yeast and Flax seed. I need to write up my lactation cookie recipe, but there are a lot of them out there! Find one you like and stock up! I eat oatmeal for breakfast most mornings, just to jumpstart things for the day.
I prefer this Brewer’s Yeast because you can’t taste it! Check out the Amazon list at the bottom of this post for a few other tried-and-true galactagogues!
4. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate!
Your body needs water to create milk. If you don’t drink enough, you won’t make enough milk. It’s a simple enough rule, but easy to forget in the stress of caring for a newborn! I personally keep my big hospital cup at my breastfeeding area. My goal is to drink the whole thing while I am sitting there nursing. Milk out, water in. I have made it a habit so much that I notice immediately if I am sitting down feeding the baby and don’t have water. If you can do this, you shouldn’t have a problem with hydration!
5. Stop stressing.
I know. Your doctor is on you about your baby’s weight gain. You have gotten mixed advice from mommy groups and lactation consultants. You probably feel confused and overwhelmed. Let me tell you…this was me! I cried over it. And it was a major contributing factor to my postpartum depression the first go around. My whole world centered around breastfeeding this baby and I was failing at it miserably (so I thought).
Here’s the funny thing. Stress actually can prohibit letdown. All of that worrying may actually be making it harder on you! I decided this time around that I was just going to feed my baby and try not to overthink it. Am I sure that is why things are going better? No. But I can tell you that I am mentally in a 100% better place, and we are doing great!
6. Perfect your latch.
This is really important! If your baby isn’t latching deep enough, it will cause supply issues. This was part of our problem the first time around and takes some work to get right. Seeing a lactation consultant can be super helpful with this, especially early on! Your baby is learning just like you. Help them get a good latch to efficiently remove milk, and you will have much better luck!
Most of the time, the hospital that you deliver at will have lactation consultants that you can see even after you are discharged. Just ask for their info! Our pediatrician’s office actually has two on staff as well and they have been lifesavers for me!
7. Warm compress.
I absolutely love these Lansinoh Therapy packs! I apply them about 20 minutes before a feeding or pumping session (I leave them on when I am pumping), and they help the milk to let down a lot quicker! Not to mention they are just soothing. 🙂 I highly recommend ordering a set! You can chill them for pain, too!
8. Hold off a little on the Paci (or bottle) if at all possible!
I know, it can be maddening when you spend 30 minutes nursing your newborn and then the second you pass them off or lay them down, they are screaming for your boob. I get it. I wanted to kill my husband when he would look at me and say “she just needs you. I have nothing for her.” I just wanted a break. And there were times I wanted to crawl out of my skin at the thought of latching that baby back on to my sore breasts when she just came off. And hey, if it is causing you mental distress then by all means, just do the Paci. But if you can possibly stomach it, it is SO helpful to wait! Not only does it prevent nipple confusion (which causes latch issues) for your baby, but all of that stimulation actually triggers your body to make more milk! It is biological.
So as much as you can for the first month, do skin-to-skin and latch your baby as often as possible. Ideally for 6-8 weeks until your supply can regulate, but I caved on the Paci at 4 weeks with both of my girls. Not in place of a feeding, but just for those moments when I knew she was fully fed and just wanted something to suck.
Following all of those tips has made a world of difference for us this time around! Lillie is eating well, mama is mentally less stressed out, and I am building a pretty beefy freezer stash (for a low-supply mama!) really early on this time!
Have you tried any other tricks?? Share with us in the comments! (And be careful with Fenugreek! As I said, it works great for some, and causes major issues for others….like me!)