As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently ran into a pretty big hurdle with breastfeeding: the discovery that my milk contains too much lipase, an enzyme that breaks down fats, causing the milk to go bad quickly. Well, I’m happy to say that despite having to start my freezer stash over from scratch, I’ve gotten in a pretty good routine of scalding my milk, and it’s only slightly more inconvenient than normal pumping.
Unfortunately, after going back to work last week I came to the realization that I’m not pumping as much as Theo is eating while away from me. As I mentioned earlier, he ate everything I sent him with on day two by 2 p.m. I had sent him with the entire 14 ounces I had pumped the day before. Since I had pumped three times the first day (9 a.m, noon and 3 p.m.), I decided to up my pumping sessions on day two (9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.). Still got 14 ounces. On top of T eating those 14 ounces at daycare, D fed him about 6 more ounces from my meager freezer stash before I got home. So it appears I need to be pumping about 20 ounces per day to keep up with his demand while I’m away.
I had no prior indication that I might have an issue with supply. Theo eats like a champ when he’s getting it straight from the boob. And he’s gaining weight beautifully, according to our pediatrician. Also, ever since he was about 4 weeks old I’ve been doing one extra pumping session per day for the purpose of building a freezer stash, and I would regularly get 5-6 ounces out of that session, which felt like a good amount to me. Unfortunately, what I discovered after going back to work and pumping 3-4 times per day is that my pumping output gets progressively smaller throughout the day. In order to continue feeling him breastmilk exclusively while I’m away from him, I need to be consistently getting 5-6 ounces from each and every session. And ideally I’d be getting more than that, so I can continue to stash some extra in the freezer for backup.
So, over the weekend I went on a mission to increase my supply. Here’s how:
- Nurse, nurse, nurse. Best way to increase supply is to empty frequently. And the baby is the most efficient way to empty. So I’m trying to feed Theo as much as possible and am letting him eat for as long as he wants. (And now that I’ve returned to work, he’s been eating more frequently and averaging about 45 minutes per session, versus his usual 15-20 minutes)
- Pump after nursing. After T finishes, I hook up to the pump for an additional 10 minutes or so. Most of the time I get less than a half ounce total, proving that the baby really is pretty efficient. But I’m combining the milk from all these bonus pumps and by the end of the day I have about 2-3 ounces that I can add to my freezer stash. Plus, even if I’m not getting much, the idea is that the pump will stimulate me to make more. Here’s hoping it pays off, because it’s super annoying. Have I mentioned how much I really hate pumping? Not to mention, once I finish one of T’s marathon nursing sessions, pump, and then clean pump parts and store my milk, it’s almost time to nurse again.
- Lactation cookies. I got this recipe from the lactation consultant at the hospital after T was born, so I went ahead and made them on Saturday. They contain oatmeal, brewers yeast and flaxseed, which are all supposed to boost lactation. And they taste pretty good! Don’t have to twist my arm to get me to eat cookies!
- Beer. Another piece of advice from the hospital’s lactation nurse was to drink a beer per day. Again, don’t need to twist my arm! I’ve been doing this almost every day since T was born, and now I’m definitely making sure I do.
- Fenugreek. This is an herbal supplement that’s known to boost milk supply. Supposedly the side effect is that it makes your pee and sweat smell like maple syrup. I haven’t noticed anything yet, but it’s only been two days.
- Water. I’ve been trying to up my water intake, as that’s supposed to help with supply. I’ve never been very good about drinking the recommended 8 glasses per day.
- Oatmeal. Along with the oats in the lactation cookies, I’m eating oatmeal for breakfast every morning.
- Longer pumping sessions. I was pumping for 15 minutes per session, but I’m stretching that to 20 minutes, in hopes of squeezing just a little more out. I’m thankful that I have a hands free setup and my own office with a door so I can keep working while doing so.
Unfortunately, I haven’t noticed a difference just yet, but at least I’ve had the weekend to get a few bonus pumps in so I had enough milk to send with him to daycare this morning. I just hope today’s output is enough to feed him Tuesday, or we may need to start thinking about supplementing with formula. It’s really something I had wanted to avoid, but I need to remember that formula is not the devil. Feeding your baby is feeding your baby. I just wish my body would cooperate so I could feed my baby the way I want.