Yesterday we had our 4 month pediatric visit and I mentioned that Winnie had increased her milk intake from 12-15 ounces to approximately 14-18 ounces during the day in the last 3 weeks. The response I received was, yes, she will start drinking more followed by “eventually you are not going to be able to make what she’s drinking.” When I asked just how much it was she would increase to the reply was that our next major issue was going to be food and introducing formula supplementation.
I’m beginning to see more and more how it’s the same song, different story all played at an ever increasing volume down a well-worn path to the formula aisle.
This and other experiences shared with me recently leads me to take a necessary moment to say, before making a decision to supplement with formula if you have a desire to continue exclusively breastfeeding and providing expressed milk these are a few simple tips that have helped many women, including me, boost and maintain their milk supply:
1) Most important: Try not to stress, it will be OK. You can provide what your baby needs, just focus on one bottle at a time. Relax as much as you are able to because anxiety will only aggravate the issue. You can navigate the milestone with the right help and resources.
2) Nurse, nurse, nurse! Limit bottle feedings to only what is necessary (i.e. when you are at work, important errands etc.). Try staying in for the weekend and nursing on demand or for several days in a row to build your supply back. Babies are the regulators if they are starting to take in more we need their "signal" (nursing) to tell our kitchens to make more!
3) Drink lots and lots of water. I think I’m consuming around 100+ounces per day and there have been times that when I pump then drink a large bottle of water it leads to a second let down a short time later.
4) This is hard with so much on our plates but try to get as much sleep as you can. Let others help you so that you can maintain your energy reserve.
5) Eating rolled oats, un-processed oatmeal, and/or nursing cookies can be very helpful.
6) There are variety of various tinctures and supplements specifically for nursing moms that boost milk production as well.
7) A dip in output if you are pumping is a reminder to do pump maintenance (do this regularly though if you can). Replace your membranes once a month - are you getting enough suction? Is it comfortable? Is your environment causing you to feel on edge and not let down?
8) Try pumping for a few minutes after your baby finishes eating in the morning. Also nurse right up until you must leave in the morning if you do need to leave to handle errands, work etc.
9) You can add pumping sessions to get the needed ounces; this may be in the evening before bed, at night or in the early morning.
10) I know co-sleeping is a controversial subject but we do maintain this in our home and the nightly feedings and additional skin to skin contact also help me to maintain a good supply.
11) Also, you want to avoid using your freezer stash to supplement so try adding session and trying any of these options before then.
12) Do contact a lactation consultant, other nursing moms or your local La Leche League Leader and group or call the La Leche League directly for help in getting connected to the support and resources you need to address any breastfeeding issues it is that you are having.
You can do it!