It happened to me. I woke up one morning when my son was almost 8 months old and I was completely empty.
Not an ounce of milk.
“How can that be? I have nursed him since day one! He has always been able to nurse … now what?”
First, I took a deep breath and tried my best not to panic. Then I thought about what was going on in my life that could have contributed to a decrease in my supply … Stress. Travel. Baby eating real food. Distraction. Mama trying to get her groove back … no wonder my supply had dipped! As mothers, we spend so much time thinking about what we need to do, that sometimes we run out of time to do it, which is exactly what happened to me.
I knew I had to kick into high gear. It was time to go “back to the basics” of milk production and add some new things to my routine to up my supply.
Getting “Back to the Basics” of Milk Production
I had already been doing so many of the right things, which had allowed me to exclusively breast feed for the first 6 months without any real hiccups. But once my little one began eating real food, I was distracted by all the new things he was learning and became complacent with my nursing. First things first … I had to go “back to the basics” of milk production.
1. I became more mindful of my water intake. If we are dehydrated, we will not make milk. I made sure I always had water near me, and was always drinking it. I find it helpful to drink while nursing, to “refill” as you become empty.
2. I increased stimulation. Since my son was now eating real food, my nursing sessions had become less frequent. While he was enjoying table food, I pumped to help signal my body to produce more milk. So I was stimulated 5-6 times a day again, rather than my normal 2-3. It is also beneficial to add in more nursing sessions and skin-to-skin contact, and you may want to consider a “nursing vacation.”
3. I upped my calories, specifically those that support lactation. Avocado, green vegetables, garlic, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and nuts are my go-to’s.
Milk Boosters to Add to the Routine
I knew not only was I going to have to get back to what I was doing right, but also add to my ritual. Here’s what I found worked:
It is an annual Mediterranean and Asiatic herb that is used as a culinary spice and is soothing to the stomach, as well as increase milk supply. This is a supplement that can be found at Whole Foods, 14 Carrot and the Vitamin Shoppe (just to name a few). Take 2 capsules two to three times daily, preferably with food.
These are so delicious, there is a good chance I’ll continue to consume these after I stop nursing my son! The essential milk boosting ingredients are oats, brewer’s yeast and flax (all these ingredients can be purchased at Whole Foods, or there are several online or other local retailers who sell brewer’s yeast and flax). Here is one of my favorite recipes:
- 1 banana
- 1 cup of almond or cow’s milk
- 1/3 cup of rolled oats ( I use organic)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tbsp brewer’s yeast
- 1 tbsp flax
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Mothers Milk Tea
This is a loose tea or bagged tea contains herbs such as fennel and anise (which give the tea a sweet, licorice-like taste), as well as coriander and fenugreek, which are all known to increase lactation. I really enjoy adding this to my day. Again, I found this at 14 Carrot, but can be found on Amazon or any health food or nutrition supplement store. Directions state you can enjoy 3-5 cups daily. I drink a cup of hot tea each afternoon as I try to relax and catch up on blogs during baby’s nap. This was an added bonus!
Important Resources to Consider
Each mother and nursing relationship is different, and what worked well for me might not always work well for someone else. If you are struggling with your supply, you may want to consider talking with a lactation consultant. In addition, the local La Leche League has meetings and leaders in the area who are available to offer support.
Three days after I added these things to my daily routine, my milk supply increased significantly, and we were back on the right path. The key is to not get frustrated, stay calm and committed to the goal you set, and know what you decide is what is best for you and and your baby.
Did you have a similar experience? What worked well for you when trying to increase your supply?