I went back and forth A LOT about publishing this post. I assume that 99.9% of people that might stumble across this blog are likely not interested in breastfeeding. But breastfeeding is hard especially, in the early days. I found a lot of peace in reading other mom’s stories and struggles knowing I was not alone. I also learned a lot by reading what other mom’s did to increase their supply. I finally decided I should publish this in case my story could help another new mom.
I assumed that I would start breastfeeding in the beginning and all would be fine. I even told myself that if I HAD to use formula that would be okay (and it is fine) but as they say everything changes when you have a baby and those hormones are no joke!
I had some issues with hemorrhaging after giving birth to Cannon, I found this resource very helpful in explaining what happens in a Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH) and how it can impact recovery and breastfeeding. If you had a PPH I highly recommend reading it. Long story short my milk took a long time to come in and was not enough to feed Cannon and help him grow.
When Cannon was born he was in the 65th percentile for weight and 88th percentile for height. This put him at a healthy 39th percentile for BMI. When we took him to the pediatrician at 4 days old he had lost over a pound and was in the 3rd percentile for BMI. This was way more than the recommended weight loss that most babies have after birth. We saw two different lactation specialists and it was determined that his latch was good and I likely just didn’t have enough milk for him and he was becoming dehydrated. My heart was breaking that my baby wasn’t getting enough milk and I felt like a failure. immediately the Pediatrician gave us some supplemental formula to give Cannon right there in the office and some to take with us as well. She also reassured me that Cannon was fine and if we kept working on breastfeeding him my milk would come in. In the meantime we should supplement to be sure he was getting what he needed. You can supplement with breast milk banks but given that Cannon needed to have something immediately we went with our pediatricians recommendation and used supplemental formula.
After a few days my milk did come in and Cannon started to put weight back on so I was less panicked. I was still irritated after a couple of weeks that I still wasn’t making quite enough and was having to give Cannon at least one bottle of formula a day. I made it my mission to increase my supply. I spoke to my midwife, Cannon’s pediatrician, a lactation specialists and did a lot of research. After a couple weeks of hard work I was able to increase my supply and even start a freezer stash for when I went back to work or emergencies.
I found that reading what other new moms had done so helpful when I was struggling so I thought I would share what worked for me.
**I am not a doctor or lactation specialist, although all of these strategies were cleared by my professionals. Everyone is different so you should discuss with your doctor before trying anything!
Things I know worked for me:
- supplements! I take two different supplements that are meant to increase milk supply:
- Honest Lactation Plus – These have lots of herbs that are shown to increase milk supply. I take one tablet twice a day.
- Fenugreek is shown to help increase milk supply, and I definitely noticed an increase after I started taking it. You should take between 1200-2400 mg a day. The Lactation plus pills have Fenugreek in them as well so I take 2 Fenugreek in the AM and PM each and 3 capsules with lunch. These will make you smell like a maple bar which is annoying but there are worse things to smell like.
- Add pumping into your day even if you are exclusively breastfeeding. In the beginning I would nurse Cannon then hook myself up to the pump. I would barely get any milk, it was frustrating and defeating. But the extra pumping signals to your body that it needs to make more milk and slowly I started to produce more. Eventually I figured out the right times to pump. Most women, including me, produce more milk in the morning than the evening. I gave up pumping past 3pm but I added pumping sessions over night. We are very lucky that Cannon sleeps most of the night but I still set my alarm for midnight and two am to wake up and pump.
- Upgrade your pump and parts. I thought about upgrading from my Medela In Style pump to a hospital grade pump. I have friends who have said they are great. In the end I decided that since I was making more milk than he needed in a day and had been adding to my freezer stash that we didn’t need to make the investment. I did upgrade the flanges from the ones that came with my pump to Pumpin’ Pals Super Shields these are more comfortable and do allow me to get more milk from the In Style pump.
I also tried a couple other tricks like eating lactation cookies with Brewers Yeast and eating more oatmeal but gave up on those after not seeing much difference.
And of course you should get as much sleep as possible (HA!), drink lots of water, exercise, eat well and be kind to yourself! Good luck to all the new mamas out there!!!