I’m certainly not one of those women who think less of formula feeding mommas. Nor do I make any judgment of anyone based on their chosen method of feeding their newborn or child. I know that everyone must do what is best for their child and their situation. It is, however, incredibly important to me, to exclusively breastfeed my daughter.
I am a first time mother to a 6 week old baby girl and breastfeeding is important to me for a variety of reasons. You’ve heard them all before: health benefits for mom and baby, saving money on formula… But the one that influences me the most is the bonding factor. I love looking into her eyes while she eats (drinks) and satisfies her hunger. I even tried my own breast milk. (It is surprisingly sweet if you’re curious!) I am amazed every day that my body is able to nourish and sustain a small life!!
The first few weeks of her life I was literally drowning her in milk. Talk about an oversupply! She would come away from the breast to catch some air and i would accidentally spray her in the face! Breast milk in the eyes is no joke! I would soak through breast pads in an hour and don’t even get me started on sleeping! I would wake up with a wet spot the size of Cincinnati on my sheets. That lasted about a month and then my supply started to regulate. No more engorgement, less leaky accidents… It was nice! But it seemed like it didn’t stop there. No! My milk decided it had graced me with its presence long enough and continued to seemingly evaporate to the point that I no longer needed breast pads and I could sleep without a bra and not wet the sheets.
At first I enjoyed the fact that I was no longer a leaky faucet. I quickly began to realize, however, that my baby was no longer seeming satisfied. She didn’t have that “milk drunk” look that I associate with a full tummy.
The other sign of a problem was I was not pumping very much. I am trying to build a freezer supply so I have backup when I return to work. When I was spewing from the boobs, I could feed her and then pump 5oz, no problem. But recently I could only pump .5-1oz after a feeding… And it was hard! It took 20min and my boobs were sore!
I know I could have supplemented with formula and my daughter would still be fine… But I wasn’t ready to give up yet. When it finally occurred to me that my supply was low, the first thing I thought about was how I would no longer be the sole source of nutrients for my baby.
My husband and I affectionately call me the “milk cow.” When our daughter cries he asks her, “Do you want your milk cow?” and when she wakes up screaming mad because she is hungry, he will bring her to me and as soon as she is placed in my arms she calms down and opens her mouth like a baby bird, making the “eh eh eh” noise that means “GIVE ME THE BOOBY!”. We that she can smell the milk and knows that I am her food source. The thought of losing THAT was devastating to me. The thought of losing those moments of snuggle time when she looks up at me with her beautiful blue eyes and belches like a trucker after a nice, long stretch on the boob… Yeah, even that. I couldn’t stomach losing that.
So, I saw a lactation consultant, and did a ton of research online. The first thing everyone says is to drink a lot of water, but I drink at least a gallon and a half a day so I knew that wasn’t the problem.
I learned about something called a galactagogue. According to kellymom.com, “A substance that increases milk supply is called a galactagogue.” There are a variety of galactagogues including oats, brewer’s yeast, fenugreek… the challenge is incorporating these things into normal foods.
These cookies seriously improved my supply. I ate 6 a few before going to bed and woke up leaking! Woohoo! I never thought I would be so happy seeing milk spewing from my ta-tas. I was pumping 3-4 ounces at a time which made me super happy.
However, I realize that I cannot (though I’d love to) eat a handful of cookies everyday for the next year or more… so I thought I’d also try Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle supplements. My lactation consultant suggested taking these together so I ordered them online and waited eagerly for my shipment.
You have to take a TON of this stuff for it to work properly. I’m talking, 2 pills three times a day. I was shocked too, but I gave it a shot. Within two days of this routine, I realized I’d found the ideal trifecta. I was literally spraying my daughter in the face again. Victory!
She has a full belly, I can pump and store a supply for my workin’ days, and I get to continue bonding with my babe. I’m one happy momma.
Breastfeeding is not easy, but it’s been worth it for me! Have you done anything to try to increase your supply? What has worked for you?