As I write this, I’m sitting here nursing my fifth child who will be 7 weeks old tomorrow. My experience with nursing and milk supply has been different with each child, as you may know if you’ve read this blog over the years. All of my babies have had issues with tongue and lip-ties, some of which were quickly resolved, and others where that wasn’t the case. One nursed well and gained quickly, another nursed okay, but I had to be very careful as my supply would tank quickly if I was extra busy or exercised much. Both of my boys struggled for months, with both of them needing to be supplemented and then fully bottle-fed by around 4-6 months (you can read about their stories and some of the things I learned and experienced here and here). With both of them, the challenges of poor nursing/latch also resulted in really low supply on my part. Those days were so long & discouraging. If you’re in the position of facing lots of challenges with feeding your baby, I totally get you!
So in preparing for baby #5, I had no idea what to expect. I did know I wanted to be prepared for lots of challenges just in case. We were also planning to do a significant amount of traveling when baby was still very young, and I wanted to make sure to have things on hand to boost my supply if it was needed, as I’ve learned from experience that it is MUCH easier to encourage a robust milk supply if you don’t let it drop too far to begin with! Before baby Tirzah was born, I spent some time researching additional options to add to my list of things to help boost supply.
This experience has been different yet! The first few weeks found baby gaining really slowly (she lost a pound after birth, and took three weeks to regain it!), which of course had me worried after everything that happened with my previous baby. But around 3 weeks old, things began to shift, and her suck got stronger and she began to gain weight! By now, at 7 weeks, she is a healthy, chunky 11 pounds, which means she has put on 2 pounds in just over 2 weeks! I thought perhaps there might be some other moms out there looking for ways to increase and improve their milk supply, so I’m going to share some of my favorite suggestions…some of these I found helpful when I was exclusively pumping for baby #4, and they have gone on to be helpful this time around.
If you are needing to establish or boost supply, your first step is to nurse frequently!! Lots of skin-to-skin time, especially in those first weeks, really helps to establish that supply, as well as nursing whenever baby is interested and for however long (and make sure the don’t go longer than 3 hours during the night those first few weeks!). Next, remember to drink lots of fluids. I would keep a water bottle at my bedside so that I would drink throughout the night (along with a snack!), which I continued to do until I was confident that my supply was adequate. Throughout the day make sure to keep drinking large amounts, as it really helps your body as it manufactures milk for that little one! And don’t forget that your body needs lots of nourishing calories to feed a second person-remember that your baby is still depending upon you for all of his/her nutrition, and baby is now bigger (and growing rapidly!), so now is not the time to cut back or diet. You actually need an additional 500 calories than what you needed while pregnant!
Besides these three things, here are some other supplements that I have found really give my milk production a boost (and just a side note, these are NOT affiliate links, so I’m not benefiting in any way by suggesting these!):
Maxi-Milk by Mountain Meadow Herbs has been one of my favorite supplements over the years. I began taking it twice a day around day 3 postpartum this time, just to give my body a boost since baby was loosing weight and I wanted to get my milk supply off to a good start as it started coming in. This is the one supplement I have always kept on hand after each baby, and any time I feel my supply dropping, I start taking it, and can see a difference within 24 hours. It’s especially helpful during those days when baby has a growth spurt and wants to eat all the time, and you can feel your body struggling to keep up with baby’s demands!
Legendairy Prouducts offers several different supplements for helping build and maintain milk supply. I had heard about them in the past year, and had them recommended to me by other moms who had tried them. I knew I would be dealing with more stress and less sleep while traveling with such a young baby this time around, so I started adding the “Liquid Gold” supplements to my daily routine. I’m now trying the “Cash Cow”, and both seem to be helpful! I was especially intrigued by their formulas and the lack of fenugreek, as my babies tend to have very sensitive tummies, and have not always done well with the traditional high-fenugreek content of other supplements.
Moringa is a green super-food type supplement, that has been used for a variety of health reasons, but has a history of helping to encourage milk production. Check out the link to find out more about it! I take it each morning at breakfast.
Spirulina is similar to Moringa, and is recommended for boosting supply and the nutrition-density of mom’s milk. This is the first time I’ve tried taking it regularly for this purpose, but it’s one of those supplements that has so many benefits that it sure can’t hurt to add it to a new mom’s daily regimen! Once again, click on the link to find out more of it’s benefits.
When it comes to adding some nutrient-dense calories, AND keeping good, quick snacks on hand for a hungry (and busy!) nursing moms, these two recipes below are my favorites. They include such things as nutritional yeast, oatmeal (oatmeal is an old-time favorite to boost milk supply!), flax-meal, coconut oil, and other great ingredients to feed and nourish a new mom and baby. The first recipe is one that my mother-in-law perfected during the year I was trying desperately to increase my milk supply for my little guy who had so many nursing issues. They are super yummy while also having great ingredients. When I was exclusively pumping, I could see first-hand how these helped to keep my supply up! The second recipe is a variation of a granola bar that a friend brought to me after I had my third child-ever since then, I always make a big batch of these around the time baby is due, as it is a wonderful snack to have on hand for those first weeks of nursing round the clock (I keep one beside my bed for nighttime feedings during the first few weeks!).
Grandma Martin’s Lactation Cookies
1&1/2 sticks softened butter
4 TBSP coconut oil
1 & 1/2 cups organic sugar (I use coconut sugar)
5 TBSP Brewers Yeast
3 TBSP ground flaxseed (golden tastes the best!)
2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp EACH salt, baking powder and soda, cinnamon
1 TBSP ground Fennel seed
1tsp ground Fenugreek (I grind these 2 together in coffee grinder)
1 & 1/2 cups flour (for Gluten Free cookies use 1/2 cup each of brown rice flour & whole oat flour and 1/2 cup of another flour)
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup coconut
Chocolate chips or raisins as desired.
Roll into balls, place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. Makes 3 dozen. These freeze well, and taste delicious frozen!
1 cup warmed honey
1 cup natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
½ cup oat bran (or oatmeal ground really fine)
1/2 cup golden flax meal
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup seeds (sunflower, chia, etc.)
1 c. chopped nuts (I like to use a blend of mixed nuts, though just almonds or pecans work as well)
1/2 tsp Celtic or Himalayan Pink salt
2 + cups old fashioned oats (enough to make mixture thick enough to form balls or press)
1 cup chocolate chips
Mix all together and form into balls or press into a pan to form bars, refrigerate until firm. I like to cut these into bars and wrap them individually for a quick on-the-go snack.
In closing, I’d love to hear about what has helped you to maintain a good milk supply for your little one(s)! If you try any of these supplements or recipes, let me know what your results are. Blessings as you nourish your baby today!