After nearly twelve months of nursing, nine of which were while working full-time, (and spending $0.00 on formula!), I am officially transitioning my youngest daughter to whole milk. I have spent an entire year fantasizing about this day, and now that it’s here, I am sad. I will miss laying in bed cuddling with my baby and the closeness I feel with her during such a short time in her life.
Last week when we wrote 10 Tips for a Successful Start to Breastfeeding, one of our loyal readers asked us for tips on maintaining milk supply after returning to work.
But before we can offer suggestions on maintaining and/or increasing milk supply, we’d like to help you diagnose any issues you might be having with your milk supply. We have referenced KellyMom’s website for our tips below. And if you’ve tried something that works for you that we don’t have listed below, please leave us a Comment!
Possible causes for a decrease in output
• You are not using your hands while you pump. Starting when your baby is a newborn, express breastmilk with your hands. Women who hand express milk within the first few days of baby’s life produce more milk (watch this video of Dr. Jane Morton for details and tips). I have always had a tremendous supply of milk (pumping up to 20 oz during one session) and now I know it’s because I have expressed breastmilk by hand -early on- with both of my babies.
• Your pump may need to be replaced or need new parts. If your breastpump is more than 1 year old, and you use it frequently, the motor may be wearing out. To understand the type of pump you need, you can read about pumps here.
• Are you using the right parts for your breastpump? Sometimes switching to a larger pump breastshield (the funnel-like attachment) can make a difference in pumping comfort and/or output.
• Decreasing the number of pumping or nursing sessions will lessen your demand and thus your supply.
• If your baby has recently started solids, baby will take in less milk and thus your supply will naturally decrease. You may not notice this change until you pump.
• If you’ve recently started hormonal birth control, your milk supply can decrease.
• Ovulation and menstruation can affect your milk supply. To read more, click here.
• Strict diets, dehydration, lack of rest, stress, sickness and medications can also decrease milk supply.
• To read more, see the article Hidden Hindrances to a Healthy Milk Supply.
How to Increase Output
• Looking to increase your supply by as much as 50%? Watch this video of Dr. Jane Morton describe how you can get up to 50% more milk production after 15 minutes of pumping.
• Nurse as often as possible when you are with your baby.
• Add a pumping sessions during the day and during the weekend.
• Try nursing right before you leave baby and immediately after you return from work. Make sure that your care provider does not feed baby a bottle right before pickup.
• If your baby has started solids, have your care provider offer solids, and only/mainly breastfeed when you are with baby.
• Try “reverse cycling,” or nurse your baby frequently when you and baby are together (usually at night). Then your baby will consume less milk when you are separated from each other.
• Many working and pumping moms recommend eating oatmeal to increase pumping output. Snacking on protein-rich foods during the day and drinking water every time you pump or nurse can help increase output.
• Many moms have been able to increase their milk supply using fenugreek or other herbs, either on a short or long-term basis. Using herbal supplements is most effective when combined with increased nursing/pumping. Make sure to consult your doctor before incorporating any herbal supplements into your diet.
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10 Tips for a Successful Start to Breastfeeding
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