One thing that constantly plays on a new mom’s mind is whether she will have enough supply of breast milk. Getting enough milk supply is always a concern for those of us who are breastfeeding.
Once the baby has gained birthweight, the primary indication if baby is getting enough milk is the pee count. Babies must pee at least 6 times in a soan of 24 hours. Minimum six times over a day. Keep an eye on the weight gain as well. Please download a WHO weight chart, and this will allow you to keep track. The baby should continue on the same line, even if it is second percentile. And not drop a line.
Here are some things that helped me:
Even if you think baby is not getting enough, ensure that you keep giving the baby your breast, even if it is only for a few minutes. As you might know, breast milk works on the demand and supply concept. As such, when the baby sucks out the milk, it signals your body to produce more milk.
If it is an option, stay home for a few days doing nothing else but constantly feeding. Feed feed feed. Be committed, and keep taking the baby back to the breast as many times as you can. Take what is called a nursing vacation. Two or three days of nothing but feeding
There really are no alternatives to this. If you have the option, I would even say go topless – skin-to-skin, and put baby just in his diapers and cuddle and snuggle as much as possible. This is the one single most effective way of increasing breast milk supply.
SAY NO TO FORMULA:
I think this is key. When you have a tin of formula at home, and baby is fussing, instinctively, you will turn to the formula. It is natural. By not having that formula at home, you will then keep offering your breast to the baby. It is absolutely important to remove that temptation; especially at 3am, when you are cranky and baby is cranky, and all you want is some sleep, you might give the formula. This means milk doesn’t go out from your breast, and since there is no demand, supply takes a hit! You might keep it in case of emergency, but it never stops with “just this once”.
While pumping does held keep the breasts stimulated, and also helps to drain the breast, thus increasing demand and in turn supply, it can also be a double edged sword. For quite a few women, the pump just doesn’t seem to help and the output is low. Even after pumping for 20-30minutes, they barely get 2oz or 100ml. And this in turn causes them to doubt themselves.
But what can actually help is – power pumping. Pump for 20 minutes, rest for ten, then pump for ten, rest for ten, and pump for ten again. About sixty minutes it total. This stimulates the breast and encourages it to produce more milk.
Many women swear by galactagogues – food items that help increase the milk supply. But from speaking to many women, and based on their intake of these foods, I gather that it only works if you are also constantly doing skin-to-skin, and feeding. It helps, but it isn’t the main thing.
While most of these are really difficult to eat, here are what I like, and is fairly tasty:
- Water. This is a must! Make sure you drink litres and litres of water. In the early days, I always kept a huge jar of water by the bed, or the sofa, where I was feeding and I would sip it continuously. Back in office, I made a conscious effort to drink as much water as I could, and it definitely helps. And no, having water does not make your milk watery, do not listen to that old wives tale!
- Lactation cookies from Milking Cookies.Lactation cookies are a delicious way to assist with increasing milk supply – the reason they work are the ingredients – oats, flaxseed and brewers yeast.Nadia is absolutely amazing and the cookies are delicious. She makes chocolate chip, double choco, oats and honey, coconut, and, peanut butter.The cookies come in a pack of 12 and each one is quite big too! For QR 35, that is beyond a bargain.
- Horlicks for Mothers: Although this comes only in vanilla flavor, of which I am not a fan, I do believe this has helped me immensely. In Qatar, it is available from the Indian Supermarket, or can be bought online via Amazon India (Amazon International costs a bomb).
- Oats – Delicious and warm, a perfect breakfast for breastfeeding moms.
- Ragi – Again, this is a desi specialty. My mom makes an amazing ragi drink using coconut milk, which I absolutely loved!
One of the most popular galactagogues is fenugreek. I personally don’t like the taste but many say that boiling fenugreek in water and drinking that up has really helped.
Sugarcane juice is delicious and it helps, but then again, keep a eye on your sugar levels, so you don’t end up being diabetic!
A new one I heard recently is raw almonds; some have claimed that raw almonds really helped a lot.
Non alcoholic beer, murungay (drumstick) leaves, and even red meat have worked for some! See what works for you.
But the single most important thing is commitment, and knowing that it isn’t easy and is something that requires work. And if you are still concerned, please reach out to a lactation consultant.
Have faith mama! You can do it!