I am in the home stretch of my nursing journey. A lot of times around 8-9 months babies are eating a lot more food and they start to naturally wean. They are also extremely busy and don’t want to take the time to nurse especially if they take bottles as well. My little one has been giving me a run for my money especially with those daytime feeds and I didn’t want my supply to tank. I thought I’d share a few of my tried and true techniques to keep a good milk supply especially in times of developmental change like he’s in now.
I know this is not ground breaking but I make sure to drink at least 100-120 oz of water every single day without fail. I have a 40 oz stainless steel container that I fill before I go to work. I have to drink it before lunch and then fill it. I can’t leave my office before the next one is gone. That’s 80 oz right there. I have a 24 oz tervis tumbler glass that I drink first thing in the morning right after I wake up. Then I drink another one with dinner. I used to always have to go to the bathroom with that much fluid but it’s so crazy now because it all goes to my milk and I am not constantly in the bathroom. If I need an extra boost of hydration I add Gatorade to my water or drink a Body Armour. That always does the trick for me. I also try to stay away from a lot of caffeine and really don’t drink anything that is not a hydrating liquid.
I pretty much eat oatmeal every day especially in the beginning when you are establishing milk supply. When I notice any dip, I go right back to my oatmeal. I also make sure to make my calories count with dense, protein-packed foods like eggs, good proteins, and stay away from simple carbs. If I really notice a dip, I do add a really calorically dense treat like ice cream or gelato at night. That always seems to bring back my supply the next day. The yeast in beer also helps! One beer after the last feed of the night and I’m good to go for the next one.
The days that he is not in school and with me, I try to get him to nurse as much as possible. I think I was able to really keep a good supply going is whenever I had him, even the minute I walked in the door from picking him up, I tried to get him to nurse. The more you stimulate with nursing, the more your body responds to make more. The pump is not as efficient as they are, so try to get your little one to nurse as much as possible. With that said, if they are away from you, pump on the same schedule that you would feed them. That way your body keeps up with the same supply. When you start missing those sessions, your body compensates by making less.
I’ve read a lot about these in my breastfeeding groups that I’m in. Basically, you are trying to stimulate multiple letdowns. So you pump, stop for 10 minutes, and then start it back up to get another letdown. You can do this up to three times. I also make sure to get in a hot shower beforehand or warm compresses on for a few minutes to really get the milk flowing helps!
I have tried a lot of lactation cookies but these ones by Milk Bliss are the best. I do use them very sparingly because they have Bakers Yeast in them and they tend to make everyone involved very gassy. They don’t affect him too much anymore but when he was really little it gave him a lot of gas so I would caution you to use them only when you really need them. Other people swear by the teas or this but luckily I never had to go that route.
I get a lot of questions about how I was able to build up my freezer supply stash. I started pumping pretty early on but only once a day. The morning is when you get the biggest yield so always pump about an hour after your first feed. Try not to give a lot of bottles in the beginning so you can really build up that stash. It is liberating to know that you have the supply just in case anything happens or if you need to run out for an errand someone can give a bottle. Another good use for it would be that last feeding before bed. Someone else can give that feeding and you can go to bed early. That way you can get at least a 4-5 hour stretch (trust me that will feel like you slept for a week in the beginning! Sleep is so precious).
Those are a few of my tried and true techniques to quickly boost back up a supply. Breastfeeding for a year is a total commitment but I only have a few more months left and I’m determined to make it to the finish line. I hope that was helpful and would love to hear things that worked for you!