Boost Your Breast Milk Supply

"Whoever said 'Don't cry over spilled milk' obviously never pumped six ounces and accidentally knocked it over."

HOW BREAST FEEDING WORKS

Let's quickly cover the fundamentals:

"What you produce today you will produce tomorrow."

My sister-in-law (Thank Emy) said this to me months into me nursing. I really wish I heard this sooner. Basically babies take a little bit more everyday which is how your supply grows. This might sound obvious, but if you switch to solely pumping... less obvious. When sleep deprived... even less obvious.

This is also the same for weening. Once baby has solids they need less everyday.
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HOW MUCH MILK SHOULD YOU PRODUCE

Before you feel like you NEED to boost your supply, first understand how much milk you should be producing. Obviously every baby is different and so are their eating habits. A good rule of thumb is 2.5 ounces per pound up to a 10 pound baby. So if you're baby is 7 pounds then in 24 hours your baby needs 17ish ounces. After 10 pounds babies top up around 25 - 35 ounces a day and that will diminish as solid food is introduced.

Now knowing how breastfeeding works, it's important to note (even though I'm probably once again stating the obvious) that you're not going to produce 17 ounces of milk starting day one. It's why babies nurse so often that first month. Find a comfy spot and set up shop.


How Do You Measure How Much You're Producing?
A couple of ways.

The obvious is pumping. You can easily track how much you express, just note that pumping isn't always as much as baby can pull.

The not so obvious - when you're nursing and not pumping. The best way to measure is to actually get a weigh station and measure your baby before and after each feed. 

Cues that your producing plenty of milk in those first few days: 
  • Nursing is easy and comfortable
  • Baby is nursing 6 - 8 times a day
  • Your breasts feel soft and empty after each feed
  • Baby is wetting 2-3 wet diapers in the first 48 hours
  • By day 5 baby's poop is yellow mustard color
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FOR ALL NURSING MOMMAS

Here are some simple best practices all nursing mommas should do no matter what their supply is doing.

In the first two weeks be at babies beck and call. You can't nurse too often. You can nurse not enough. At lest 12 times in 24 hours. Essentially every two hours.

Drink enough water to sink a ship. 100 - 160 ounces a day. If you're supposed to have 8 glasses of water a day when you're not breastfeeding that's only 64 ounces a day... so imagine doubling that. Ready go. No seriously. Get a water jug and just carry it around with you... everywhere.

Eat, eat, eat. As much as your baby is eating, you need to keep up. So eat up! All the protein and grains. Here's a handy dandy meal plan for nursing mommas.

Continue to take you prenatal vitamins for added energy and you can include a Fenugreek which is also supposed to help your milk flow.
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THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Things are going... okay, but baby is fussy and nursing hurts and is hard and all your hormones are begging you to hang in there and see this breastfeeding thing through.

Couple still not so extreme things you can do or are already naturally doing:
  • Pump after every nursing session - empty those boobs, even if baby doesn't.
  • Never skip a feed - if baby is sleeping and doesn't show signs of waking up in time - pump.
  • Have you experienced the cluster feed yet? It's where baby nurses every 10 - 30 minutes over several hours for multiple nights in a row. Some babies won't even let go and they'll just hang on you until bed time. It's a thing and it's there to boost your supply when baby is about to go through a growth spurt. This is the perfect time to binge on that show you've been meaning to catch up on - like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime.
  • In the same vein of cluster feeding you can just have baby pacifi on you, but be careful that it's not until your raw and bleeding. Unlatch baby with your pinky finger.
Hang in there momma. Nursing is not easy. It's very hard. It's a big sacrifice of your body, mind, and even sometimes spirit. 

You know that saying, "It takes a village." It's because it literally used to. Wet nurses were a real thing and not just to the rich and powerful who were to prim and proper to nurse, but to real mother's who had a hard time. These women literally saved babies' lives. We don't have wet nurses now, but we do have milk banks, friends who produce more than they can use, and if all else feels like it's failing, formula. There are other options.

YOU are not a bad mother no matter what your hormones are telling you. As I said in my first newsletter, a happy baby is a fed baby, no matter where the food is coming from.
 
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NOT GIVING UP

Okay I hear you and mostly because I was you. By 4 months I was producing 40 ounces for twins and I worked my absolute butt off to do it.

Here's what I did:
  • Drank 160 ounces of water a day religously
  • Ate all day - oatmeal for breakfast, snack bars through out the day, a good lunch, more snacks, and a good dinner.
  • My daughter was a fussy nurser... the only way she'd nurse was if I was walking. No really. So I stood and bounced while I fed her.
  • Pumped every 2 hours and NEVER missed a pump. Picture it - a 5 hour flight from Seattle to Philadelphia. Holding a 4 month old and hand pumping for each of her feedings. If you don't have a hand pump - I highly recommend it. It was a life saver and sometimes did a better job pumping then an electric one.
  • Cluster pumped. I'd hang out on the sofa for two hours pump for 20 minutes. Rest for 20 minutes. Pump for 20. Rest for 20. Just recreated the cluster feed with a pump.
And you're thinking... 40 ounces... that's not enough to feed two babies. And you're right.  I fed babies breastmilk during the day and formula at night. I pumped once during the night and it was usually my largest amount in one go - 12 - 15 ounces. That got them through breakfast until I woke up around 8AM and started pumping every two hours until I conked out around 10PM.

It was my happy medium. Formula at night allowed me to get more sleep. Babies drank bottles way faster then they nursed and I could bottle feed two babies at once much easier then I could nurse them. Formula was also a lot easier to warm up. We have an electric tea kettle that had a thermometer, so I'd just warm it up to 98 degrees, add the powder, shake and deliver.
 
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WHEN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Is baby losing weight? Are they fussy, during and or after a nurse?

How are you? Are your mood swings super high and super low? Are you sleeping at all?


Your health and sanity matter. Obsession over milk production and all your extraneous efforts to make it happen aren't helping you or baby.

I'm not saying give up. Every amount helps and matters. It doesn't have to be 100% all one way or all another.

There's a happy medium. There are breast milk banks, friends with more milk then their baby can drink, and organic, all natural, palm oil free formulas.

You are a beautiful, strong bad ass woman who made a baby or two from scratch. How you feed your baby does not define you.

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