Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Let's be real here. Producing food for your baby is not always easy.
Being able to produce milk for a baby is incredible - I mean think about it, our bodies is able to create food for another human to help them grow. Amazing right?
But what is not shared with other moms is that not all moms find it easy to produce.
It takes time. It takes work. It takes patience. It takes perseverance.
And it takes the strength of a mom to know she is capable and able if that is what she wants to continue to do.
For me producing milk wasn't always easy. The amount of time I put into nursing and pumping to help stimulate and increase my supply seemed like it was never ending.
If I calculate the amount of time I spent pumping, it would add up to 280 hours - thats not even including how much time I spent nursing. I'm telling you, producing food for your baby is A LOT OF WORK!
There were days throughout my 12 month milk momma journey that I only got 2 oz. of milk out of a 30min. pump session... Talk about a defeating number to see in a bottle.
Like I said, producing milk can be hard. But I am hear to tell you that its not impossible and even if you are a small producer, being able to provide a little mommy milk full of amazing nutrients is a great thing to be able to do.
Through my journey I did a ton of research to help me bring up my supply when it would drop and there are some things that worked and some things that did not work. Here are some tips that may help you in your nursing or pumping journey:
When it comes to milk supply, the most important thing that helps with milk supply is how often we pump or feed. The more we take milk out from the boob, the more milk the boob will make. So it is important to empty your boobies in order for it to make more.
This one is interesting but also frustratingly - the body does not let down as much milk during pumping as it does during breastfeeding. They say that this is because when our baby is feeding from mommy, more milk is let down from direct stimulation: we smell, feel, and see our baby. When pumping, the body is not as stimulated the same way and so it may be more difficult to let down milk... Bummer, I know, right? One tip I have for this one is to have a picture of a video running of your baby during your pump session to stimulate some of those happy feelings when you are pumping.
Always do both boobies at once, unless you are doing something like nursing on one side and pumping the other (by the way - nursing and pumping at the same time is hard. I personally wasn't a fan.)
If you don't have a pumping bra, definitely get one - it will change your pump life for the better.
Use a hospital grade electric pump if you can get your hands on one. I couldn't get one, but I found that using the proper cups that fit your boobies will give you a better/ proper suction - providing you with more milk.
If you've been pumping a lot and especially if you've been using the dishwasher to wash the parts, then sometimes those removable parts need to be replaced. For example, on my Medela pump the little white silicone membrane had to be replaced a few times (every couple of months.)
Find your pumping "sweet spot" - turn the suction up until it hurts, then back down to comfort. NEVER go full blast on the suction (OUCH!) - you could damage your milk ducts! If your pump doesn't have an auto-let down feature, then turn the speed up fast for the first couple of minutes to mimic baby's fast sucking, then slow it down.
Gentle heat and massage before and during pumping can help.
Hand expressing after pumping can really help increase output.
Make the flanges (I called them cups) fit comfortably.
Pump for about 2 minutes after the last drop of milk. They say that pumping sessions should not be longer than 15-20 minutes, but I went for 30 and that is what worked for me.
Do lots of skin to skin contact with your baby, especially in the early weeks/ months. Breastmilk production is stimulated through the senses of touch.
Pump every time your baby gets a bottle. If your baby is in child care. Find out the times they feed your baby a bottle and mimic those feedings during your pump sessions.
Keep hydrated, drink 104 ounces of fluid/water per day! That sounds like a lot, but I would make a little mark on my bottle to help me keep track of how much I was drinking.
Eat lactation treats! I loveeeed this. I tried a few things, but Mrs. Patel's bars and Milky Mama Emergency Brownie were my absolute favorites. The brownies worked like magic when my supply dropped. And Mrs. Patel's bars helped me maintain my supply.
Play relaxing music. Try not to be tense or stressed when pumping.
Imagine your baby, look at pictures of your baby, smell baby clothing or baby powder.
Always pump in the same quiet, relaxed place set up a routine
Do slow, deep, relaxed breathing; relax your shoulder
Here are a few additional tips from a site that I found useful during my nursing/ pumping journey: https://happyfamilybrands.com/blog/help_article/low-milk-supply/
I know that may all see like a lot, but like I said in the beginning of this post -
producing milk takes time, work, patience and perseverance. Just breathe and trust your body.
Try not to stress over how much you produce. If your baby needs a little formula, that is ok. If you feel your milk producing journey may be ending. Thats ok.
Talk to your doctor about your feelings. Talk to your mom friends about your experience, struggles and thoughts about your journey. Talk to your mom about it all, remember that she has been in your shoes before and can support you through your journey.
Enjoy these moments with your baby, because time fly's by so fast and before you know it they will be eating solids and crying because they didn't get enough cheerios.