Before we get started, it seems important to mention that I’m in no way a medical professional — I’m just your average mom who’s tried a lot of things to keep my supply up while working full time. Anything breastfeeding related is undoubtedly part luck. All of which is to say: What worked for me may not work for you — and please talk to your doctor or lactation consultant before doing anything you’re not sure about!
1. Power pump
Pick a time of day when you can sit still for an hour straight. For me, this is in the evening, after baby’s bedtime. Hunker down with a book or some Netflix, and follow this formula: One 20-minute session followed by two 10-minute sessions with 10-minute breaks in between. Do this for at least three nights in a row, and you should see a change in your output over the whole day. If you don’t yield much at first, see #3 below.
2. Try some fenugreek
I’m not talking Mother’s Milk Tea here, though I’m sure that can’t hurt anything. If you want to see an impact from fenugreek seed, you’ll need some concentrated capsules. You can pick them up at some drug stores, but I got mine at Cambridge Naturals. According to KellyMom, you should take at least 3,500 milligrams per day “until your sweat and urine begin to smell like maple syrup.” (The maple syrup thing is weird and TRUE!) You can then stop taking the fenugreek once your supply is where you want it, which generally happens after the first 24-72 hours. I’ve continued to take 1,200 milligrams a day after leveling out, though, just for good measure.
3. Be patient
Nothing you try will change things overnight. As a lactation consultant told me, when you first add a pump (of the power variety or otherwise), you’re “putting in an order.” Give it a few days before you expect to see a real, consistent increase in supply. And don’t let a low-output pumping session stress you out (see #5 below).
4. Eat something
No, seriously. Eat something. Whether you’re busy chasing a toddler around at home all day or, like me, trying to schedule pumping sessions between meetings at work, it’s easy to forget to put food (and water) into your body. I’m not going to tell you to put healthy food in your body — what you have the time, energy, and access to shove in your face is between you and the fridge. Just make sure you’re actually eating and staying hydrated, because calories in equals calories out.
Yep, that obnoxious, seemingly impossible-to-follow advice from pregnancy continues into breastfeeding life. Wherever you happen to find yourself pumping — in the car, a bathroom stall, storage closet, whatever — try your best to take some deep breaths and relax. Pull up some baby pictures and videos (aka lactation porn) on your phone, play Candy Crush, read a book — do whatever you need to do to chill for a minute. Whatever you do, don’t stand in front of a mirror and stare at the numbers on your bottles. You know how the old saying goes: A watched pot is the best way to make your blood boil.
6. Be consistent
Just because it’s the weekend or vacation doesn’t mean you get a break from your delicate balance of supply and demand, unfortunately. If you’ve added an extra pump to keep up with your ravenous youngster, make sure you’re doing it every day, even if it’s a Saturday and you’re going to be breastfeeding all day. The good news is those extra weekend pumps are all surplus!
These are MY top tips. What are yours? Share your supply successes with us!