Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Increasing Milk Production

When Little One was born my milk came in fast and furious. Engorgement is very common among breastfeeding women in the first few days post partum but I had an abnormally bad case. Little One had a tough time latching on. It was like eating from a bowling ball. Thankfully a La Leche League leader came to my rescue with a few techniques to help get the baby on. Since then the engorgement went down and I was blissfully producing such an oversupply of milk I signed up as a milk donor to give milk to preemie babies. I could not keep all the oversupply in my freezer. I knew this was a huge gift and was very grateful for it.

Now after two months back at work supply is slowing down a little. I still have enough to feed most babies, but my ravenous baby girl gulps 8 ounces in a shot - she eats almost 40 ounces a day. To ensure I can meet demand I began to look up ways to maintain and keep up my milk supply.

The first and simplest thing to do is to rest and drink a lot of fluid. All that milk is coming from your fluid supply, so keep it up! My new rule is that I do not pass a water source without drinking. Another helpful tip is to keep eating and relax as much as possible.

Since breast milk supply is related directly to demand and stimulation, it also helps to feed the baby often. Many women experience a dip in supply when the baby starts sleeping through the night and taking less daytime feedings. To combat this try to get in an extra feeding or pumping session. Pump after feedings to ensure the breast is fully emptied and save the milk for later use. The best stimulaion comes from the baby itself eating at the breast so try and do as many of the feedings yourself as possible. Arrange baby's eating schedule to coincide with times you are home.

If that still does not help, you can try certain items known as galactogogues that increase milk supply. The safest of these are tiems you normally eat anyway such as whole grains, oatmeal, quinoa and alfalfa. There are also herbs such as fenugreek, blessed thistle and red leaf tea that are known to increase milk supply. However, they have never been studied for passage into the breastmilk or side effects so it is best to keep these as a last resort and use with caution.

For me, I think the answer is going to be starting Little One on solids soon. Solids do not provide nearly as much nutrition as breastmilk and they do not replae it within the first year of life. However, when the baby is getting enough nutrients and drinking the max amount of breastmilk advisable a day and still wants to eat this is often the answer. They're not in it for the calories. They are trying to have fun. She looks at her father and I when we eat and starts making little open mouth faces. She swats at our food. She's not hungry. She's jsut eaten. However, she wants to be like the big people. That's my Little One, always a little ahead of herself!


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