As natural and instinctual as breastfeeding is, nothing about it is easy, and there are way too many variables that have to go right to be successful. I've been lucky to have success with breastfeeding and I absolutely love it, but every now and then I still have concerns about one big thing - my supply. Now I'll say this - although most breastfeeding moms are concerned about their supply, most are just fine. If baby is gaining weight normally and has enough wet diapers, baby is getting enough milk! You can't rely on how "full" your breasts feel or how much you pump to tell you how much your little one is getting. With all that said, though, growth spurts definitely happen and always seem to leave me wondering if I'm getting Liv enough milk. Two other times I notice my supply take a bit of a dip? When Liv is in a "snacking" mood (ie, she's interested in everything else while she's nursing and so only snacks a bit) and when I'm stressed. Here are some tips for keeping that supply up!
Pump! When I'm home and Liv is being a finicky nurser I have a handheld manual pump I use to pump a bottle. I'll usually only do one side and let her nurse on both sides (offering the side I pumped first) when she is finally interested. I'll also try to sneak in an extra pumping session before I go to bed. If I'm at work I'll try to do the same with the electric pump.
Eat! Make sure you're eating enough nutrient-rich foods so that your body can make enough milk. This is essential, and a lot of women trying to lose weight post-baby just aren't eating enough. One of my favorite snacks are Mrs. Patel's fenugreek bars; the peanut butter ones are my absolute favorite, but there are also original and chocolate. It's so hard to try and only eat one of these per day (the same way I can't eat only 2 gummy vitamins - they're so good)! I also love plain old oatmeal cookies although I think they boost supply just by making me happy :)
Drink! Another basic necessity, but drink plenty of water! And if you're like me, most of your "water" comes from coffee. I'm not sure where the myth came from that coffee decreases your milk supply, but it doesn't, and as long as you don't notice that it has any effect on baby's sleep or activity feel free to drink in moderation. Many women like lactation tea and if you're one of them, that's fine to drink too! I wasn't a fan of the black licorice taste to most teas, although I do really like the chai tea from Mrs. Patel's.
Relax! In school we always learned about the HPA axis and how stress affects us physiologically, but never is it more concrete then when it comes to breastfeeding (or at least pumping). On the days that are stressful and I only have a few minutes to pump in between failing experiments I can never pump much of anything, even if I did eat and drink enough. On the other hand, when I'm having a great day and watching videos of Liv as I pump, it all goes wonderfully! It's easy to say don't worry, but seriously, just try not to worry.
Try not to rely on supplementing. Let me clarify - there's absolutely nothing wrong with supplementing with formula to give baby a little extra if it really makes you feel better (or of course if they're not gaining weight appropriately, etc). Just make sure that you still try to pump when you're supplementing. Supply is all about the demand, and if you're supplementing without pumping your body won't know that you need to make more, and you'll only make the problem worse.
This week one lucky reader will be winning a combo package from Mrs. Patel's! This package includes a sampling of all three flavors of their fenugreek bars, their Chair milk water tea, and their munch crunch! Just leave a comment below for your chance to win!