When you’re breastfeeding and our pumping it’s hard not to keep a close, keen eye on your milk supply. It’s what your baby depends on to grow and thrive and you certainly don’t want it to dwindle before you or your baby is ready to discontinue breastfeeding. I feel like I’m even more aware of my supply this time around than I was when Alea was a baby because I’ve pumped so much more. While on maternity leave I was pumping 2-3 times each day in order to build a freezer stash for when I returned to work. I knew, even just for peace of mind, I wanted to have plenty of frozen milk on hand for if my supply took a nose dive when returning to work.
I’m sure I’m not alone when saying this, but it’s hard not to somewhat obsess over the number of ounces you’re producing when you’re watching the little bottles fill up while listening to the rhythmic tune of a breast pump. I’ve been known to get a little upset if I pump an ounce or two less than usual and get a little worried. But it’s important to remember that your supply will fluctuate and what you’re pumping isn’t a 100% indication of your actual supply. Chances are you have more than that and putting baby to the breast is much more effective than any pump on the market.
Here are a few ways I’ve read about, learned about, and tried to help to increase my milk supply.
1. Fennel Essential Oil:
Not everyone is okay with using essential oils internally, but what I prefer to do is to place 2-3 drops under my tongue to help support a healthy supply. The taste is a little strong and comparable to black licorice, so if that’s too much for you then I would recommend rubbing the same amount on your breasts after nursing.
2. Oatmeal with Ground Flax Seed:
I eat a bowl of oatmeal every single day. The oats, specifically, are supposed to help with milk supply, but if you can find a brand that also has flax seeds they’re also known to help give milk supply a boost as well. My favorite kind is Better Oats in all of their varieties of flavors, but I also found that Quaker Honey and Almonds has flax seeds as well. I’m a huge fan of oatmeal to begin with and love that it really fills me up and keeps me full throughout the morning, so this has been an easy adjustment for me! I also add a spoonful of ground flax seed for good measure!
3. Honest Company Lactation Supplement:
This supplement contains Fenugreek and you’re supposed to take two capsules daily. I definitely notice an increase in my supply when I’m taking this consistently. I pump at least 2oz more than I normally would and if you’re a pumping mama or ever have been, you know that every extra ounce counts!
4. Increase Water Intake:
Drinking more water doesn’t necessarily equate to an increase in milk supply, but not drinking enough water and dehydration can certainly decrease your supply.
5. Eat Galactagogue Foods: A galactagogue food is a food that helps to promote lactation. These foods are necessarily guaranteed to work on everyone or produce the same results in everyone, but there’s definitely no harm in trying them. Galactagogue foods include: carrots, whole grains, oats, dark leafy greens, garlic, chickpeas, nuts and seeds, salmon, and avocado. I always just try to include a healthy number of healthy fats in my diet because more often than not, those are the same foods that help support lactation.
Some moms also swear by pumping after each time their baby eats and power pumping. I haven’t tried either of these, but definitely have them in the back of my mind if ever I notice my supply is going down and the things listed above aren’t quite doing the trick.
What ways have you helped to increase your milk supply?