This last weekend I had one of the worst headaches of my life. A migraine set in while my husband was out-of-town and I was alone with the girl. Light and nausea where keeping me from doing the most basic duties that day. It was not a good situation. Because I am still breast feeding my girl, I have been avoiding all medicines including pain relievers (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc). I persevered through the pain and discomfort and managed to wake up on Monday morning feeling okay. That feeling went away when I realized that my milk supply had dwindled to almost nothing. I had been able to produce at least 30 oz a day just 2 days before but suddenly I couldn’t even make 5 oz…in a whole day. Needless to say, this mom was freaked out.
I did what anyone does in that position does…I started the pump and went online. On Monday, I pumped as much as I could and did research on reestablishing or increasing low milk supply. I found numerous websites with “Top 30 things to eat” or “Take these 10 supplements” and I couldn’t make north of south of the information. Honestly, is eating a sweet potato really going to help?
It is Thursday today, and I am happy to say that these 3 THINGS helped me to significantly increase my supply. Mind you, I work full-time and have to accommodate these methods to my work-life. I went from making 5 oz on Monday to making 10 oz this morning alone. Here is what worked.
1: Fenugreek capsules One of the first things I read consistently on medical sites and mommy blogs was that this supplement really works. Fenugreek can be used as follows: take 3 capsules, 3 times a day for the first 10 days; drop to 2 capsules, 3 times a day for the next 10 days; drop to 1 capsule, 3 times a day for another 10 days.
They say it takes about 72 hours until you will see any increase, but I have already rebounded pretty well. There are some side effects like….smelling like maple syrup (this is real) and sweating more. (also real) It’s not good to take this if you have diabetes or asthma, so talking to a lactation consultant is a good idea. Fenugreek can also pass into breast milk, FYI.
Here is the brand I use: Best Naturals Fenugreek Seed Capsule, 610 mg
2: Brewers yeast Brewer’s yeast is used to make beer, and people have been taking it as a dietary supplement for a long time. It’s highly nutritious and contains iron, protein, B vitamins, and a number of minerals. The other thing about it is that it’s believe to produce more milk. I know that I had heard of moms drinking a beer to make more milk… this is the reason why.
Brewers yeast can pass through the milk, like Fenugreek, and sometimes babies aren’t into it. They can become colicky or get some digestive issues. Keep this in mind and keep track of it. Like Fenugreek, brewer’s yeast can lower blood sugar, so women with diabetes should stay away. There are a handful of medications that it can interfere with, so talking to a lactation consultant can put your mind at ease. Lastly, if you are prone to yeast infections, stay away. This with only increase the problem.
For use: If you buy tablets, take 2-3 3 times a day, (take it with the fenugreek). If you use powder, take 1 to 2 tablespoons of it and add it to a beverage to drink once a day. This is the method I have been using. I have simply added it to kefir milk, plugged my nose (BECAUSE IT TASTES TERRIBLE) and gulped it down. I take only 1 tablespoon, as I wanted to assess the effects on my baby before plunging too deep.
This is the stuff I use: Solgar Brewer’s Yeast
3: Pumping effectively– Before my milk decreased, I wasn’t worried about how I was pumping. I knew I was getting enough out, so I didn’t bother trying to improve the method. Now that my milk supply has dipped quickly and dramatically, I am more concerned about how and how often I pump.
-Pump 8-12 times a day. For me, being a working mom, I have a difficult time squeezing that into my work day. I have been waking at least 3 times a night to make sure that I am hitting that goal.
-Making sure the pump (still) fits is essential. The inserts may be too big or too small and that could be inhibiting your production.
-Stop pumping when the flow is low or stops. I had previously read that you want to continue to pump on and on to get multiple let-downs. This is not the case. When you don’t see anything, stop the pump.
-Avoid long stretches of constant vacuum. This also felt contrary to what I had previously believed, but it doesn’t help to continue to vacuum on and on. It is better to stop and start again in an hour or so.
-Adjust the suction. Putting it to high might seem like you are going to get more output, but making sure that the pump is not hurting you is more important.
Last but not least DON’T FREAK OUT. Stress is just the worst. It keeps you from being healthy in every single way, especially letting your body rebound from an illness or whatever. I know it’s so hard, but it’s important not to sit and stew (or will your milk to flow). It just doesn’t work that way.
I am grateful that I am seeing such a measurable increase in such a short period of time. I am also grateful that I can continue to produce milk for my 10 month old. People were helping me and consoling me these past few days saying “it’s okay, formula is great” or “you are a good mom, it’s okay to let your milk dry up this far along.” They are right. That is okay. I just knew that for me, I wanted to continue to give my baby the best I could. Lessons learned.