Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nursing Helps: Low Milk Supply

Recently a friend of mine, a nursing mother, was running a fever. The fever caused her milk supply to go down, and she was bombarded by well meaning friends who insisted that she had mastitis....

She didn't have mastitis, but this got me thinking of the times my milk supply has gone down, and come back up... and then gone down, and come back up... So I thought I'd write a brief post about that this week.

There are many things that can affect a mother's milk supply. Sometimes it really does just fluctuate. The main thing to remember is to just be patient, your supply will come back. Don't give up on nursing!!

I could never write a comprehensive list of things that could affect a woman's milk supply, because there are so many factors that can. If I were to make a list, though, it would include things like:
  • Any sickness a mother is experiencing will tax her body, and may decrease her milk supply
  • A fever. Because your body requires extra fluids when you have a fever, it will reduce your milk supply.
  • Dieting
  • Stress
  • Consuming sage and parsley (I still use these, I just not everyday, and in reduced amounts)
  • Not getting enough rest
Many of these things just go with having a baby, and many for many of them the solution is self explanatory. Here are a few ideas that may come in handy:
  • Make sure you are drinking enough water! You body cannot make milk out of nothing. Being low on fluids will require your body to take from your stores, and when those run low, so will your milk supply.
  • Take a break here and there during the day. I know it's hard to do, but take a few minutes to sit and rejuvenate, use it as a moment to reconnect with your little babe. It really may be that simple -- I've experienced it. Making milk uses energy within your body, not to mention the nutrients that are going from you into your precious milk.
  • EAT! Make sure you are getting enough nutrients. Again, your body cannot make milk out of nothing, you require added calories, fat... added nutrients. I hate putting it as calories, we put too much stress on the word calorie. Who needs to count calories? Not a nursing mamma!
  • If you are a scheduled feeder, reduce the amount of time between feedings. The more often you nurse, the more your body will be stimulated to make milk.
  • Fenugreek. I have used this on more than one occasion and had great results. The first time I took it it took my body about 48 hours to be kicked into gear. Now every time I use it I see results within hours. If you don't have any fenugreek, check your spice rack. It is one of the main spices for curry!
  • Place a warm wet wash cloth on your breast, and gently massage for a few minutes before nursing.
Nursing has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I just cannot tell you enough how much I love it. If you are experiencing a time of low milk, and are frustrated just remember, it won't be forever, though, sometimes it does take time. Just hold on! These are just a few things that I have found that truly do make a difference for me and my son when I've had those times.

Next week I'll be writing a post about engorgement issues. In the mean time, what have you found that has helped you boost your milk supply?


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  2. Awesome! Hope you don't mind if I add a couple of things as well. Blessed thistle is great for increasing milk supply, along with Dill, Coriander and Fennel Essential oils. Be careful to avoid fennel if you or baby have a history of seizures. Cleansing your liver is god for if your lactation has stopped and believe it or not, homemade root beer using yeast instead of dry ice can produce milk that may surprise you :)

  3. I found Brewer's yeast helpful with my supply when I was nursing my second son.

  4. Thanks! I've heard of using the Brewer's yeast, how do you do it?

  5. Thanks for all the tips, Melissa! Super post.

    Zinc is a super milk booster. Pumpkin seeds are a great source (soak and dry first).

    And iron iron iron! It makes sense that most women are low on iron, seeing that we lose so much blood, then grow babies, etc. A healthy iron supply will really influence a healthy milk supply.

    If you want a richer milk supply, try marshmallow root (or any of the mallow family, for that matter??).

  6. I was lucky enough to have a pump and found that pumping helped. If I knew I was going to be gone during a feeding, I would take time out from my activity and pump when I would have fed my son. Then I would have extra milk for when I was gone to feed him. Although my son never would drink from a bottle (even my milk), he would take it from sippy cup and when he started to eat solid food, I would mix some of the extra milk in with whatever I was blending for him (breast milk will break down the food though so it only works for that feeding).

  7. This was one of the most helpful bits of breastfeeding advice I've read. :)