I wish I had someone who could help me with my supply in the six weeks that I pumped. I wish I had someone's support!
As a postpartum doula, part of what I do is support moms in their efforts to breastfeed. I also support moms in their decision to bottle and formula feed. A well fed and happy baby, makes for a happy mom...so, personally, I don't really care how they get fed. My role as a doula is to support that moms decision and make sure that she feels no guilt or shame for whatever her decision is.
If you're a mom who is breastfeeding and struggling with supply like I did, here are some things that you can do to help boost your supply!
Whole Grains and Protein
A lot can be said for a healthy diet when you're breastfeeding. Sure, you need to consume about 500 extra calories a day, but make sure they're the right kind. Start your day with a healthy breakfast of lactation oatmeal, and a fruit smoothie made with almond milk. Make sure that at every meal, you have whole grains and protein. Snack on things like veggies and hummus, whole grain pretzels with cubed cheese or trail mix with nuts and dried berries.
Drink water like it's your job. The rule of thumb for water consumption is take your weight, divide by two and turn that into ounces. For example, I'm 158lbs...so that's 79. 79 ounces is what I should be drinking during the day just to stay hydrated and keep my body flushed. If you are nursing, you can expect to drink almost a third to double that number in a day.
Create a calm environment for breastfeeding and pumping. Play your favourite music, post photos of places that you want to travel to and of your baby. Anything that releases those happy endorphins will help up your supply!
If there is an energy block, it may prevent your milk from flowing free and easy. If you are afraid of needles, I can personally assure you that they do not hurt. I went to Dr. Andrea Clarke at Rebirth Wellness Centre (highly recommend!) for acupuncture during the end of my pregnancy with Graeme and the sense of relief that I left with was amazing. I was worried that the needles would hurt, but you can't even feel them. And yes, I even had one in my forehead!
Foods to Avoid
Avoid foods that are high in acidity or strong in flavor. Things like cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, radishes and citrus fruits. It's also recommended to avoid things like caffeine and chocolate...but let's be honest...if those things make you happy, it may add more stress to you to have to think about giving them up.
One thing that did help boost my supply was taking fenugreek and blessed thistle. Yes, you will smell like maple syrup, but there are worse things to smell like, I dare say! The lactation consultant that recommended these to me advised to take them together to strengthen their properties. You can pick them up at any health food or drug store.
Fennel tea and lactation teas are very popular breastfeeding supports. You can pick up the Traditional Medicinals brand at the grocery store in the natural food section, or you can make it yourself at home! Here is a recipe for a red raspberry leaf tea, and one for fennel tea.
Stay tuned! Next year I will be featuring lactation boosting juice recipes that I have made for my clients, along with more tips and tricks to help you boost your supply.
When all else fails, and you feel like you have tried everything, know in your heart that you have and are doing the best that you can. What works for one may not work for everyone. Remember, a happy mom makes for a happy baby, so follow your heart and do what is best for yourself.