While breastfeeding is no new gig, it has recently become one of the leading parenthood discussions going on everywhere I look. Whether the issue is breast vs. bottle, breastmilk vs. formula, the health benefits of breastfeeding, to cover or not to cover, there always seems to be some new debate (sometimes heated) around the topic.
Well, here’s a non-controversial take from a mama who has put her all in to breastfeeding twice, but would never judge someone for choosing not to or not being able to breastfeed. For me, it was just a personal choice, and I was lucky to be able to produce a supply to nurse Anissa for a year, though due to health issues and then supply issues, she was supplemented pretty much from day one. Guess what? I’m A-OK with that!
This time around, Baby Tino’s first meal outta the womb was formula because his blood sugar was low, but other than that I have never had to supplement and have a nice big freezer stash already. So, as you can see, breastfeeding capabilities can vary from woman to woman and even kid to kid!
Through one and a half breastfeeding journeys (because I hope to go at least a year with Tino), I’ve picked up some tips and tricks along the way to enhance breastfeeding- whether it’s to ease the process, produce more milk, or get a good latch. I’ve been through the ringer with all of those issues and want to share my top ten tips for breastfeeding your baby, in hopes of helping other new moms who are on their journeys!
1. DRINK WATER! Anyone who has had a baby knows that, no matter what hospital you deliver at, they will give you a huge (usually 32 oz) water jug. My Northside jug is my favorite water vessel, and I try to drink at least 3 or 4 of these full of ice water per day. I notice a direct correlation between how hydrated I am that day and how much milk I produce, so chug, chug, chug!
2. Oatmeal ’round the clock: In most articles about breastfeeding, you’ll see that oatmeal is always a go-to to help boost supply. Although there is no real science behind it, many women (including myself) notice an increase in supply on the days they eat oatmeal. If nothing else, it’s delicious and healthy 🙂 I love oatmeal for breakfast, but it also works as a snack or even dessert! Also, steel cut oats are my jam. Check out this article on KellyMom.com for some reasons as to why oatmeal may be good for your supply.
3. Combine #1 and #2- Oatmeal Water: Now, this one may seem a bit strange and it’s not for everyone, but I like it and I find that it really works. This is an overnight concoction, but one batch will last three days, depending on the size of your pitcher. Here’s how to make it:
- First, mix a cup of oatmeal with a few tablespoons of brown sugar, depending on your sweet tooth.
- Fill the jug up with water and stir.
- Let sit overnight.
- The next morning, strain the juice out and press the oatmeal through the strainer to get all of the juices out of the oats.
- Stir and enjoy a big glass per day.
4. Lactation Cookies: I made this delicious recipe a few times when I was nursing Anissa and not only does it have a lot of key milk-making ingredients (oats, flaxseed, yeast), but they taste so. darn. good. Trust me on this one and indulge in a few cookies 😉
5. Supplements: I’ve used this Lactation Blend supplement both times and have seen great results. Again, it contains most of the big nursing supplements, like fenugreek, and gives you a great supply boost.
6. Eat enough of the right stuff: Believe it or not, certain foods have the ability to increase your supply, so try to load up on those. Some of these foods include:
7. Nipple shield: If you are having trouble with latching baby, you may want to look into a nipple shield, like this one from Medela. They help baby latch on to your nipple for those that have inverted or larger nipples, which are hard for newborns to latch on to in the first few days.
8. Pump often to increase supply: This one may be annoying to some, but pumping is a great way to increase your supply. And not just pumping when it’s time to feed the baby and giving them that milk, but also pumping right after you nurse or in between nursing sessions. This alerts your body and brain to the fact that you need to make more milk, so even if nothing is coming out, your still sending those signals and in turn, increasing your supply. Also, it’s imperative to have a compy nursing and pumping spot. Here’s my set-up, complete with water, a snack, my Boppy for nursing, a cozy blanket and pillow, and of course, remotes to binge watch my favorite shows.
9. Reglan: I’m not a medical professional, so this is just speaking from my own experience. That being said, due to the retained placenta with Anissa, my supply was never where it should have been, so a great doctor finally prescribed me Reglan, a medication that helps to increase supply. Within the first two days, I was able to almost nurse exclusively, whereas I was probably producing about half as much before I started the medication. However, once you run out, for me at least, my supply dropped again, so I ended up having to do three rounds of Reglan. But, if you are struggling, ask your doctor as it did really help.
10. Take care of yourself: To be honest, this is the most important tip! To maintain a good supply (and your sanity, because, let’s face it, nursing can be challenging both physically and emotionally!) make sure you sleep enough, eat enough of the right stuff, and most importantly, persevere. It may be easy to feel defeated or want to give up, but just keep pushing and do your best.
And remember, FED is best so if it is just not happening for you, do whatcha gotta do to keep baby happy, healthy, and full 🙂