A few weeks ago I realised that my milk supply had taken a dip, something that I think most breastfeeding moms worry about. With Aria, my milk supply dried up at about the 4 month mark despite me trying everything to revive it (you can read about that here), but this time around I was able to get things going again which I’m so grateful for. I received tons of questions on social media asking what I did and so today I’m going to chat about exactly that; how to increase your milk supply.
Before I get into how I increased my supply, I think it’s important to chat about how I knew that it was low. With Aria, I had no idea what was wrong for about 10 days; she just cried and cried and cried which was very out of character for her. But this time around I noticed almost right away that something was up, and this is how:
1. Maia started to wake up at night for a feed. Up until then she had been sleeping through the night and so when she started to wake up hungry, I knew that something was up with my milk supply.
2. When I fed her, she got very fussy and quite frustrated which I quickly realised was because she wasn’t getting enough milk to fill her up.
3. My breasts never felt full. You know that feeling when you know you better feed or pump soon-ish, I didn’t have that.
4. When I pumped, I got little to nothing out. I would normally get 100ml or so out but when my supply dropped I would get 20ml if I was lucky.
I’ve come to learn that I have a very volatile milk supply – if anything goes out of routine, it takes a dip and so I have had to become almost religious about things to keep my milk supply up. Of course, every woman is different and so what worked for me may not work for you, but it’s definitely worth a try.
The first thing I did was to start to pump more regularly. At that point, I was only pumping once a day, in the morning, and if I’m very honest I had become slack and was only getting around to it three times a week. To kick things into gear I did power pumping for 3 days; this means that I pumped after every single feed during the day. I like to give myself 20min or so between feeding Maia and pumping, the time frame seems to work best for us. At first, it was very frustrating and disheartening; I hardly got any milk out on the first day, but it gradually increased and by the third day I was pumping 200ml a day – I was thrilled! I’m not power pumping anymore but I am trying my absolute best to pump every single morning.
In terms of which pump I’m using, I have the Medela Freestyle which I absolutely love! It’s a double electric pump which means I literally only pump for 10min, I just don’t have time for anything more than that. My pumping bra is from Bravado and it’s excellent, but Medela also has one that I have heard is very good.
ALSO READ: Breastfeeding made easy with Medela
The second thing that made a massive difference was upping my water intake. Breastmilk is made up of 90% water so not getting enough in can have really disrupt your milk supply. I am notoriously bad when it comes to drinking water, somehow I just forget until I’m almost dying of thirst and then I glug down a litre at a time which really doesn’t help that much as I’ve already let my body become so dehydrated. I’ve had to become so intentional with drinking water and I can honestly say that once you get into the habit, it’s not that difficult. I try to have a minimum of 2 litres a day which is a bit tricky during the chilly winter and so I tend to drink a lot of the Carmien Nursing tea with no sugar or milk. One of the easiest ways to try to get your quota in is to have something to drink each time you feed your baby and/or pump. If I’m honest, those are the times that I actually get really thirsty so it all works out well.
The third thing that I did was start to take breastfeeding supplements and snacks seriously. If I can increase my milk supply by doing something as simple as eating or adding something into my food, it seems silly not to. My supplement of choice is the Mylk and Co. Milk Maker Protein Powder which I add to my oats or smoothie in the morning. It is a vegan, coconut flavoured protein powder with toasted vanilla and hints of caramel. If you really want to crank it up a notch, the Lactation Granola is delicious as well.
My favourite milk boosting snacks are the Mrs Milk lactation oat bars. I was sent some to try out when Maia was born, and I was so impressed that I actually bought some for myself. Not only are they full of the good stuff to get your milk flowing, they are actually really filling. I tend to eat one while I do the school run and it keeps me going until I make my breakfast at around 9am. There are two variations of the lactation oat bars; classic dark chocolate which is really yummy with the chocolate drizzle, and moringa and green apple which is more zesty in flavour. I like both varients so I tend to order one of the variety packs to get some of each. If you’d like to order some, use my code MASCARA&MIMOSAS to receive 10% off any of your orders, it can be used more than once! (This is an affiliate code)
Both Mrs Milk and Mylk and Co use galactagogues as their main ingredients which is why they do such a brilliant job of upping your milk supply. Basically a galactagogue is a substance that promotes lactation, increasing milk supply. Some common galactagues are: whole grains (especially oatmeal), dark leafy veggies, fennel, chickpeas, papaya and a whole whack more. I try to include as many of these into my diet as I can but to be honest, it’s much easier to plonk some Milk Maker Protein Powder into my smoothie or to chomp down on a Mrs Milk Lactation Bar.
The last two goodies that I want to chat about aren’t things that I have been using for a long time so I can’t say for sure how effective they are, but I wanted to give them a mention anyway. The first one is Fenugreek which I have in capsule form. This is a herbal medicine which helps to stimulate lactation. If you are busy purchasing Mrs Milk bars, you can pick some Fenugreek up at the same time over here, these ones are vegan, Halaal, gluten free and yeast free.
The second one is the Mama’s Milk essential oil roller from Living That Oil Life. This blend contains fennel which as we now know, is a galactagogue. It’s super easy to use as well; simply roll it over the glands from below the armpit after a feed and then wipe the area with a warm facecloth before your baby feeds. Make sure not to apply it to the nipple. I’ve used the roller two or three times now, and I definitely had a decent pumping session each time which is great!
Well this was a super long blog post but I hope that you found it really useful, this is definitely something that I would have wanted to read when I was in the trenches when my milk supply dropped with Aria. If you have any other tips and tricks to increase your milk supply, please leave a comment below, I think so many mamas will appreciate it!