I’m worried about my milk supply!
Women express concern over how much milk they are making in every one of my new moms groups! I can empathize with them as I too worried about it as a breastfeeding mom. We all know breast milk is best; what we don’t know is how much milk our baby is drinking! So, in the early days, we measure wet & poopy diapers. You keep baby awake at feedings, look for gulping, and once she dozes off, you admire the droplets of milk which drip out of the corner of her mouth ♥ For support, you can see a lactation consultant and they will weigh the baby (on a scale which measures in tenths of a gram!) before and after you nurse…allowing you to see how many ounces were transferred in that feeding. There are plenty of ways to confirm that baby is, in fact, getting enough milk.
However, a few months in, when hormones have changed again; you’ve gone back to work…or find that you can barely get a few ounces while pumping; you’ve introduced solids; you got your period; your baby is getting up more at night than he did a few weeks ago….you are left concerned that you’re not making enough to satisfy your ever-growing baby.
First, I think it’s important to remember that, if your milk supply got off to a good start and you haven’t had any major setbacks (health issues, etc), things are probably just fine. Baby is far more efficient at getting milk than a pump! Not feeling engorged or leaking as often as you did in the beginning is normal; your body has learned to produce just what your baby needs. You can always call a lactation consultant or drop by a La Leche League meeting or breast feeding support group to have your questions answered. Or, visit with your pediatrician to be sure baby is growing adequately. However, a good judge of baby’s satisfaction is often in their disposition and achievement of developmental milestones.
If you are still concerned, there are some lactogenic foods & herbs you can buy as well as teas, tinctures, and tablets! When my stash of frozen breast milk was accidentally thawed and spoiled (thank you hubby), I panicked. I couldn’t pump much at all and was worried that I wouldn’t collect enough for even one bottle a week! I knew about all the more common things I could do: eat oatmeal, drink guinness, keep hydrated, drink mother’s milk tea, not stress it, and get rest…but for the first time, I decided to go beyond that and I bought more milk plus by motherlove. It nearly doubled what I was pumping! In addition, I found a really great list of lactogenic foods, which I share with loads of mamas, and let this list guide my eating!
There are other ways to give your supply a little boost as well. You can do a power-hour of pumping (ten minutes on, ten minutes off…repeat for 60 minutes) or bring your baby in bed with you for a night or two ~ opening up the all-you-can-eat buffet again. Of course, the idea is that we operate on a supply-and-demand basis; so, the more that is removed, the more milk you make! Put baby (or pump) to the breast more often…the stimulation helps too! Keep drinking water (although not too much), get some good sleep, don’t worry too much, and eat healthily. Also, be sure you’re not consuming things that might be reducing your supply ~ such as decongestants, alcohol (in moderation it’s ok), birth control pills, too much caffeine, not eating enough calories, or over-exercising. If things don’t change, there are some prescription medications you can take…and some say renting a hospital grade pump might be more effective too. Both of those options might cost you some money (and may not be covered by insurance), but again, talk to a lactation consultant to see if this is a necessary course of action for you.
Some of my favorite breastfeeding websites are below…maybe they’ll be of use to you!
Finally, if things don’t work out as you’d hoped they would, know you have not failed. We can only do so much. There are other options for feeding your baby including another woman’s breast milk (purchased from a breast milk bank), formula, or raw goat’s milk (among “milks” it is most like breast milk). As long as your baby is thriving and happy, things are good!