What can you do to increase your breast milk supply if you notice your supply is dwindling? Well, thankfully there is a lot! On Mother's Day, when my son was just 6 weeks old, I noticed my supply had virtually stopped. I thought it was because I was stressed about returning to work the next day. However, when Monday rolled around and I had no milk, I panicked and immediately called a laction consultant (LC), as well as my OB.
First, let me say I was absolutely certain that my milk supply was vanishing, as I was pumping 2 times a day, so I could actually see how much, or in this case, how little milk I was getting with each pumping. This is an important point because many women experience a "softening" of the breasts and think their supply is gone.
After discussing the situation with the LC and my OB, I was put on a strict regimen of herbs and nursing/pumping/nursing/pumping. After 2 weeks of hard work, my supply was back to normal, and I have had no problems since.
Here is what I did, but please, consult with a board certified LC and/or your OB if you are having any problems. Also, be aware that there are presciption medications available that are specifically designed to treat decreased milk supply.
*I took the herbs Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle in combination (1 500 mg pill of each, 3 times a day). Be forwarned, the herbs can initially give you and/or your baby a bit of an upset stomach, but this side effect should eventually go away. Also, the Fenugreek smells a bit like maple syrup and subsequently you, too, can smell like maple syrup! Finally, I was on a very low dose of both, so you might want to consult with a professional as to what dose is appropriate for you. Per the Medela website, for example, they state, "The dose is 2-3 capsules (580-610 mg each), taken by mouth 3 times/day" is the therapeutic range.
*I measured out 64 ounces of water to drink each day
*I cut out (or tried to cut out!) trans fats such as cakes, cookies, fried food, etc.
*After every nursing, regardless of how long my son nursed for, I would massage my boobs in a downward motion and then pump for 7-10 minutes. The pumping was important to stimulate the nipples and subsequently the milk supply. Also, per the LC, for an entire week, my son got no bottles, and I was told to nurse him whenever he wanted.
I felt that increasing my breast milk supply, though, would only do so much if I didn't figure out why my supply vanished in the first place. As stated in my welcome post, my son and I had problems with breasfeeding from the start. As it turns out, my son was an extremely inefficient/unagressive sucker, and I was getting recurrent blocked ducts that were actually blocking the flow of milk from much of the breast. These 2 factors led to the decline in my supply, but thankfully were easy to remedy (see other postings).
There are some great resources out there if you are experiencing a decrease in your milk supply. Here is a site I particularly liked and found very helpful: milk supply info
If you are having problems, take a deep breath and relax knowing it is possible to regain your supply. And remember, when in doubt, consult a professional.