February 26, 2019

How I Increased My Milk Supply

I nearly doubled my milk supply in less than one week thanks to the help of a lactation consultant and great tips from my mom readers!


If you're reading this, more than likely you are a glorious mama. You read and learn as much as you can to care for your baby as best as you possibly can and you're not a quitter. Breastfeeding is incredible. Pumping breastmilk is incredible. Bottle feeding is incredible. Any way you keep your baby fed and healthy is incredible. I want to take this moment to applaud you for being an amazing mom!

Just a little bit of background of my breastfeeding history: I've been exclusively breastfeeding since Jacob was born and it is my goal to continue to breastfeed him until he's 1 year old. I was fortunate to start off breastfeeding effortlessly - he latched on well, he gained weight quickly, and my milk supply was overabundant. I was engorged at first and I did have to deal with a clogged duct and mastitis within the first three weeks. Besides that, I love the feeling and bond of breastfeeding. I didn't care that it happened nearly every every hour and a half...I looked forward to him coming to my breast and being with me.
The Problem

I began to notice around three months that my milk supply was different. There wasn't just one telltale sign, other than the fact that at Jacob's two month check-up, his weight percentile dropped from 80% to 45%. His pediatrician wasn't worried. Jacob is a happy, healthy baby who is tall and lean, with great muscular tone and some chunky rolls on his thighs. He was still having five to six wet diapers a day. When he feeds, he'd only stay at my breast for five to ten minutes each side - I've definitely got a snacker on my hands. At three months, I noticed my breasts weren't full like they used to be. They were pretty soft throughout the day, but I had read that by this time your milk supply regulates to exactly what your baby needs. I trusted that Jacob was taking in what he needed, because he would always seem satisfied and happy after he was done feeding. At this point, I was pumping once a day for a relief bottle, inconsistently, and I'd only get about 1.5 oz from both breasts (when I pumped one hour after his feeding). Then at his four month check-up, his weight percentile dropped to 30%. I was shocked and so worried. I had hoped everything was going well, when it fact he hadn't been gaining much weight at all. Still, the pediatrician wasn't too worried because Jacob was still a happy, healthy baby. The pediatrician suggested for us to start him on solids and to supplement him with a bottle of formula every day. Now I have nothing against formula - in fact, I've had two containers of HIPP formula sitting in my pantry, in case the need arises - but I didn't want to give up on my milk supply, so I decided to visit a lactation consultant.
Our Visit

I wish I had visited a lactation consultant sooner! Though I didn't seem to need one in the beginning, I feel that a proper check-up of my milk supply and baby's intake would've been very valuable to know for peace of mind and to keep as reference when tracking his growth. She affirmed my suspicions: my milk supply was low. Jacob fed 2 oz in one feeding and since his last weigh-in at his four month check-up, Jacob gained 2 oz in two weeks, which is a very slow growth for his age. The typical should be 0.5 oz per day, so a four month old baby should approximately gain 7 oz in 14 days.

The possible causes of a decrease in my milk supply could be:

1) my diet - I unfortunately don't feel hungry often, so I have a bad habit of skipping meals or eating too late.
2) Jacob being a snacker - since he fed very little per session, he's not creating enough demand for my breasts to produce milk.
3) my period returning at three months, which is unusually early for exclusively breastfeeding moms. Milk supply dips during your period because of hormone shifts.

The decrease in my milk supply could be a combination of all three concerns, so I needed to address them all. Finally, this is my lactation consultant's recommended plan of action to increase my milk supply in seven days:

The Plan
  • Pump both breasts at the same time for 10-15 minutes immediately after each feeding (except for middle of the night feedings). Feed the pumped breastmilk back to him, don't store. 
  • Take Legendairy Milk’s Milkapalooza supplements as directed 
  • Eat one Boobie Bar per day (oatmeal chocolate chip is delicious!)
  • Eat bare minimum 1500 calories per day and eat more carbohydrates
  • Drink 10 glasses of water per day 

And so I did it. I stuck to pumping on average six times a day, after he feeds, for 15-20 minutes at a time (I pumped extra time to really make sure my breasts got some demand). Taking the supplements and eating the yummy Boobie Bar was easy. Thanks to some of my readers’ advice, I started eating a big bowl of oatmeal twice a day and I pack in goji berries, almond milk, black sesame powder, and honey. I also use the iPhone app Plant Nanny to track how many glasses of water I drank. Lastly, don't forget to check to see if you're using the correct flange size for an optimal fit - Legendairy Milk's Instagram has incredible guidance on this!
The Results

I honestly didn't see much improvement in the first five days. I would get a total of maybe 2 to 3 oz per day to feed back to Jacob in one bottle. But on day six, I sat down to pump after his first morning feed around 8AM, And I suddenly noticed my breasts were unusually heavy and milk nearly poured into both bottles. After Jacob fed ten minutes, I was still left with 5 extra ounces of pumped breastmilk in one session. I just felt so, so relieved! Accomplished! Ecstatic! The work paid off. The rest of the day, I'd pump an extra 1 to 2 oz per feeding. I could tell throughout this week that feeding Jacob back the extra 5 to 8 oz of pumped breastmilk each day made him more relaxed and calm overall! It's been great practice for Kyle and I to feed him from the bottle as well. I really appreciated Kyle's support in giving me the time to pump, making sure I was eating my oatmeal and meals, etc., so I wanted him to come to the appointment to celebrate the accomplishment with me.

At the follow-up appointment, Jacob weighed 15 lbs 7 oz, which means he gained 5 oz in 11 days, right on the mark for his age’s weight gain pace of 0.5 oz a day! We were all so happy that this whole plan worked in a short amount of time to get him back on track. The only thing that didn't change is that Jacob is still feeding only 2 oz in one session, even though there is plenty more milk he could feed. But since he's an older baby, he's developed his feeding habit of snacking often. So, the best option is to continue to bottle feed him my extra pumped breastmilk to increase his intake. Another tip the lactation consultant left me with is to start taking a 1500 mg calcium / 750 mg magnesium supplement from the day I ovulate to the start of my period. Calcium and Magnesium help offset the drop in blood calcium levels, which can decrease milk supply during this time every month.

I hope everything above offers some help and guidance to those who may be in a similar situation. I'm happy to answer any questions or offer advice from my experience, just DM me on Instagram or email me!

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