Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Breatfeeding, Natural ways to boost your milk supply.

You’ve made the decision to breastfeed your baby. You’re minding your own business and everything is fine until one day you notice that your little angel is never satisfied after nursing. Becoming worried and maybe even a little frustrated you drag out your breast pump. Despite waiting three hours to pump your results are less than what you have been able to pump before. Your fear has become a reality: your supply has for some reason taken a dip.

That was me three years ago with my son. At four months my Buggie wanted to eat every hour and a half and was never satisfied after I fed him. Worried, I looked for natural ways to boost my supply.
  • First things first – nurse, nurse and more nursing! Your body knows what to do. It works on supply and demand. If you’re able to stay home for a few days and do nothing but nurse your baby. Relax, watch TV and cuddle that little one while she helps boost your supply. This obviously would be easier said than done, especially if you only have one child, but if you can swing it why not give it a try?
  • Look at factors that may be contributing to supply. Are you taking any allergy medication? Do you smoke? Is there a lot of stress in your life? Are you eating enough? Are you staying hydrated? Are you supplementing with formula, bottle-fed breast milk or solids? These are all things that can affect milk supply. I realized that the problem with my supply was the allergy medication that I was taking. Allergy medication works by draining the mucus from your cavities (sinuses, etc.), however, the same is true of your milk ducts. At least that’s how my lactation consultant explained it to me. Once we figured that out, I stopped the medication and started using a galactagogue. What is a galactagogue?
  • Galactagogues – These pretty puppies can be herbs that naturally increase milk production but should be used as a last resort. I used fenugreek and it definitely helped boost my supply. Reader be warned though – if you take fenugreek your milk and poop will smell like maple syrup; your baby will smell like it too! Other galactagogues are blessed thistle and alfalfa. As always, and even with herbal remedies, consult with a trusted physician or lactation consultant before consuming. The herb, fennel, can be used to aid in letdown which would be good to use if you need to pump more frequently because you’re working.
  • Bring on the cookies! The web has a ton of lactation boosting cookie recipes. When looking for a recipe you’ll want to find one that includes the ingredients oatmeal, Brewer’s yeast and flax seed. Do not purchase quick cooking oats; you need the old fashioned kind. And the Brewer’s yeast? A good, hearty dark beer does help boost milk supply and Brewer’s yeast does too. As for the flax seed – buy the milled kind.

Remember, before you start fretting look at your baby: Is he satisfied after a breastfeeding session? Is he gaining weight? If the answer is yes to those questions chances are your supply is fine and there’s no need to worry.

Elizabeth (aka Bert) is a stay-at-home-mom and contributing writer for She Thinks Media. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, Ben, her son Buggie, and daughter Lady Bug.  When she's not trying to convince Buggie to expand his interests beyond Thomas the Train or put his pants back on she's writing about her experiences as a mom on her blog, First Time Mom (FTM). After all, Bert maintains there's a first time for everything, even if you  have more than one child! 


  1. Are there other reasons fenugreek and blessed thistle etc should be a last resort? I wasn't able to bf w my first child but am really hoping it will happen w my upcoming baby and was planning on having those herbs and teas at the ready. Thanks for the tips! Definitely hoping to utilize them!