Increasing your milk supply

This is one of the top concerns of nursing moms, milk supply when in fact it should not be a concern in the first place. Breast milk production is always a rule of supply and demand. The more milk is taken out of the breast the more it produces milk. Also, if your little one is having enough wet and dirty diapers, then it should not be an issue.

But my little one’s weight is not enough? The pediatrician said that I should supplement with formula so that my little one will gain more weight. Remember, that each time you supplement with formula, the more it will reduce the length of your breastfeeding journey because it disrupts the natural supply and demand of breastmilk. These pediatricians are not breastfeeding advocates so if you really have doubts and if you want a professional advice then I suggest you book an appointment with the International Breastfeeding Centre in Toronto or I think you can call them if you are outside Toronto and would like to check what other options you have for a professional guidance. Another great support community is the La Leche League Canada, and they have a big coverage in Canada. They have groups/leaders in all of Canada’s provinces. So lucky for Canadian Moms! 🙂

Well, in terms of weight, my pediatrician back in the Philippines uses the World Health Organization (WHO) growth chart for my little one who was younger than 2 years old. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the WHO growth chart establishes growth patterns specifically for breastfed babies. Breastfed babies have different growth patterns from their formula fed counterparts. Here is the link to the growth charts. I do not know if you can bring these charts to your pediatrician and ask them if they can use it instead to track your little one’s weight but I’d rather have this chart at home then use a weighing scale to measure my little one. Breastfed babies cannot be compared to formula-fed babies because of the differences in terms of main ingredients (of course a cow’s milk cannot be compared to a mother’s milk) of the milk and its nutritional content.

If someone will comment or if you think that you do not have enough milk because your little one demands nursing frequently, then think again. Breastmilk is  easily digested, which is usually 1-2 hours. Hence, breastfed babies need to nurse more often than formula-fed babies. Also, breastfeeding is not just about feeding but also for providing comfort and security to your little one. Especially during growth spurts, your little one will want to nurse as frequently as possible.

My breasts are not leaking so I think my milk is not enough…WHAT?!?!?! My breasts did not encounter leaking but until now my little one is still breastfed 🙂 Leaking breasts have nothing to do with your milk supply.

When I pump, I only get little or no milk at all…this is also one of the most frequent comments of new nursing moms. Pumping is NEVER a measure of how much milk you produce. A baby’s sucking is always different from the suction made by a pump. My pumping schedule at work is every 2-3 hours because I would like to mimic the breastfeeding session of my little one in order to remind my breasts that “Hey, you gotta produce milk because someone needs it ladies”.

I use my manual pump during breastfeeding sessions, and my electric pump whenever I am at work. I did not want to lose the opportunity of a let-down so I pump while breastfeeding.  This allows me to get more milk for my stash. But what if the little one wants to breastfeed now on the breast that you’ve just pumped? Then let your little one breastfeed 🙂 There is no concept as the “milk is gone since you pumped it out”. There is always milk that will be produced and your little one can even get the hind milk, which is the fattiest breast milk you produce. The image below shows how pumping and breastfeeding all at once is done:

Mother breastfeeding and expressing milk

Another factor could also be the parts of your breast pump that needs to be replaced. In washing the parts of your breast pump, please do not wet the tubes. It will affect the quality of your pump if you do so. But if milk is present or any dirt entered the tubes then you have no choice but to clean it. For better step-by-step procedure, please refer to this link for the proper way to clean the tubes.

Yet another favorite topic among nursing Moms is the use of galactagogues whenever low milk supply is being discussed. These are substances that promotes the production of breast milk. However, take note, you should not be dependent on these substances when you believe you have low milk supply because there could be underlying reasons why you have low milk supply in the first place and galactagogues might just worsen your situation. Examples of galactagogues are oatmeal, horseradish (malunggay) leaves, fenugreek, and blessed thistle.

Yes, these galactagogues can sometimes increase your breast milk production, but what if the root cause of your low supply is that your milk output is not enough due to clogged ducts or your pump parts needs to be replaced? So, imagine this, you’ve increased your milk supply but your milk removal is not enough…this is the exact cause of mastitis.

Hence, I suggest that you first consult with a lactation consultant before you take any of these galactagogues. They will tell you the root cause of your low milk supply and they can provide you with more accurate solution to your concern.

If you consult with your lactation consultant, also request for a lactation massage session. I used to request Nay Ines Avellana-Fernandez from Arugaan in the Philippines for a lactation massage whenever I think I have clogged ducts due to some lumps that I can feel in my breasts. It feels soooooooo great after the massage 🙂 After each session, my milk is leaking out and even with just hand expression I was able to fill-up one cup with breastmilk.

In summary, if you feel like your milk is low, just see the summary below and talk to your lactation consultant:

  1. Are you pumping in regular intervals, every 2-3 hours to mimic your little one’s schedule?
  2. Have you checked if your pump parts needs replacement? You will notice that you have to do so if the suction’s power is lesser whenever you pump.
  3. Feel your breasts, do you feel some lumps? You might be having clogged ducts especially if you are working and pumping at the office. Working Moms are most likely to have clogged ducts because of the inadequate removal of milk. If you have clogged ducts, I suggest that you call a lactation consultant. Although Youtube has lots of videos about doing a lactation massage on you own, but I find it more effective to have it done by a lactation consultant.

Before you leave this page, I would want to remind you that you need to hydrate yourself. In my experience, I drink water 12 or more glasses a day. Water, water, water because you want to keep yourself hydrated while breastfeeding especially during hot days.