For Nursing Moms: How to Increase Your Milk Supply
I’m writing this blog post as I pump! I have a hospital grade pump that I rent on a monthly basis and it is a huge plus for nursing moms. In addition to investing in a great pump, I have other suggestions for moms who are trying to increase their milk supply or keep up with nursing their baby (in my case babies!). I had twin boys in December and it sure is a chore to make sure I have enough milk. I was with a client who just had her second child and we were both talking about how stressful the whole nursing thing can be. When I was pregnant with my first son, I remember worrying about being able to nurse, if he would latch, if I would have enough, etc. I had heard so many stories and I didn’t know what to expect. Luckily for me, Timothy was an excellent nurser and he actually nursed until he was over two years old.
Having twins is a bit of a different story and I am supplementing with formula out of necessity. Both boys were born at a very healthy weight, 7lbs 1 oz and 6 lbs 8 oz and they require a lot of milk. I do my best to give them as much of my own milk as I possibly can through breast feeding and pumped milk; but sometimes they are still hungry. My pediatrician said, “better to have a well fed baby, then an only breast fed baby”. Moms have enough pressure as it is. I think every mom has to do what’s best for her and her children.
I do love feeding my boys with mama’s milk though, so I do what I can to get as much as I can for them. Here are some things I’ve discovered over the years that can really help increase milk supply.
Mother’s Milk Tea—I swear by this tea, not only because I completely trust and love everything about Traditional Medicinals as a brand; but also because it tastes so good. If you have to swallow something you hate, chances are you won’t take it. Mother’s Milk tea is filled with galactagogues, herbs that support breastmilk production*, such as fennel and anise (which give the tea a sweet, licorice-like taste), and coriander and fenugreek. The company also came out with a new flavor, Mother’s Milk Shatavari Cardamom, which is now my new favorite. I love the blend of Ayurvedic herbs and I add some unsweetened vanilla almond milk and it tastes like dessert. You can drink up to 3-4 cups of Mother’s Milk tea a day.
Oatmeal–Oatmeal is a good source of iron, which can get depleted in nursing moms, and anemia/low iron levels can result in a decreased milk supply. Eating something high in iron first thing in the morning might increase milk supply in some women. I love the hearty taste of a good bowl of oatmeal and it really fuels me up. Breastfeeding requires an extra five hundred calories a day and you want those to be good wholesome calories. Oatmeal is definitely great for lowering cholesterol and filling you up with fiber. I make a bowl and add banana, blueberries, walnuts, flax seeds and unsweetened almond milk with a dash of cinnamon.
Lactation Cookies–If you prefer to eat your oatmeal throughout the day, oatmeal lactation cookies are a great option. Many lactation cookies add brewers yeast to them, which has also been shown to increase milk production. Here is a great recipe for you to make your own at home.
Pumping–You can increase your milk supply by pumping in between feeds. Your breasts get completely depleted of milk so your body then works harder to fill them up again even more. You’re also tricking your body in to thinking it has to make more milk. I find the best time to pump is twenty minutes after you feed and to go for ten or fifteen minutes. I can’t always find the time to pump especially when I would prefer to play with my toddler; but morning after the twins feed and evening after they are in bed I always make sure to get in a pumping.
Hydration and Healthy Meals–It makes sense that your body needs plenty of adequate nutrition and hydration. Keep a water bottle near you at all times and eat three full meals and two to three healthy snacks. I have my oatmeal for breakfast, a tuna fish, turkey, hummus or peanut butter sandwich on sprouted bread for lunch with an apple, and salmon with sweet potato and broccoli or whole wheat pasta or grilled chicken pitas for dinner. I snack on nuts, cottage cheese with fruit, yogurt and smoothies. I make sure to drink plenty of water as well.
Sleep–I know the last thing we get as new moms is sleep! But it really is important to rest when we can. Nap if possible when the babies are sleeping or have your husband do a nighttime feed with expressed milk or formula if you’re supplementing. Note, sometimes supplementing can decrease your supply if you do it a lot; but as long as you’re still nursing you should be ok. I have to supplement because of the demands of feeding two and I have a steady supply of milk as well. Since I have a toddler, it’s hard for me to nap during the day. However; I do make sure to go to sleep early if I can after all of the boys are in bed and get at least three straight hours before a feed.
Less Stress–It’s hard not to stress as a new mom or even as a second time mom. I have a whole new set of stressors dealing with twins and my first born; but I really try to find humor in every situation. The more you can smile, stop and take a deep breath, take the pressure off of yourself and know you’re doing great, the better off you’ll feel. When you feel good and have less stress, your body does what it naturally should do. Trust in the process and enjoy these precious times.
In addition to the above, make sure you’re feeding your baby from both breasts, try to avoid too much supplementation if your baby is gaining weight and seems ok, nurse frequently or as often as your baby seems interested, and try and make sure you nurse until your baby is completely finished. My sons seem to want to fall asleep on the boob often, so I will wake them up by changing their diapers mid feed, or I keep switching them from side to side if I’m nursing each one separately.
Hope these tips help! Good luck mamas! Please share any secrets you’ve learned in the comments below.
This post was brought to you in partnership with Traditional Medicinals.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!