Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Nursing and Pumping: My Top Tips for Maintaining Great Milk Supply

Most of you know that I am a mother of two boys, Sawyer and Colt. I have been fortunate enough to have and have had a great nursing relationship with both my boys. I nursed Sawyer until he was 13 months old, which I am very proud of. Although he was nursed for a little past a year, I will admit that I struggled with the whole pumping situation, especially once my schedule got busier 3-4 months after I had him. I had started my first semester of college, was planning a wedding, and was trying extremely hard to lose the baby weight that I had gained before I was supposed to walk down the isle in July. With all this that was on my plate and my general lack of knowledge on how to successfully pump, I had to resort to supplementing with formula when I was not able to nurse Sawyer. This was something that I had felt extremely guilty about, at first, but I quickly reminded myself that I am only human and I am doing the best that I can for my child. So before I dive into the bulk of this post, I wanted to share that real quick with anyone who has or is currently giving their child formula because this post is in no way a "shame on you for not nursing your baby" post. It is meant to be a source of encouragement and support for ALL mothers and mother-to-be's.

Tips for a Successful Nursing Relationship With Your Baby-


  • First and foremost- Do not compare yourself to other mothers. Every mother's journey is different. Comparing yourself to the successes of other mothers and their own stories sets unrealistic expectations for yourself. 
  • Reduce your stress as much as possible. I find this very ironic that I have put this on my list, simply due to the fact that in the past year my life has been nothing but one stressor after another. Most of it has come from other sources besides my newest addition, and they all have pretty much stemmed from my son's autoimmune disease that he has (for which he cannot help). So, ladies, if you can identify with me on this and there is no way to avoid having stress in your life, let me suggest this- find a good way to MANAGE your stress. Managing your stress in a healthy way will go a long ways, and will allow you to relax while feeding baby. And remember, when you're relaxed, so is baby. 
  • Stop google searching everything! This is something that I am horrible at and have really had to watch myself about it. It goes back to comparing yourself to other mothers. If you google "why won't my 2 week old latch well" you will get a ton of most likely negative info that will ultimately hurt your chances of success. If you are concerned about anything in regards to yourself or your little one, call your doctor or consult a lactation expert. 

Tips for Successful Pumping and Increasing Milk Supply-

  • See All Above. Remember, comparing your milk supply to other mothers' milk supply is not going to do you any good. Reduce/manage your stress levels because stress can certainly impact your milk supply. And don't google things that aren't necessary. I have googled so many things that I wish I hadn't because it only made me feel bad about myself and made me think that I was doing something wrong. Remember, every mother's journey is different.
  • Start pumping as soon as you can after having baby. I started pumping within a week after Colt was born. When I first started out, I had an oversupply so I was pumping roughly 4-5 ounces every session. But as Colt got older and started nursing less often, I only started pumping 2-3 ounces a session. This is normal. Remember, babies only need about 1-1.5 ounces every hour. So if they are going 2-3 hours between nursing sessions, they will only need about 3-4 ounces. Pumping more often will also increase your milk supply. Increase in demand results in increase in supply. 
  • When starting out, pump an additional 10 minutes after nursing your baby. This will increase your supply dramatically. You may not get much out at first, but after about a week of doing this you will notice a difference. 
  • Drink water/reduce caffeine intake. I'm not saying to cut out caffeine intake completely because let's all agree that for us moms, caffeine is a staple in our diets. I'm saying reduce your intake from your normal 3 cups to maybe 1 cup. The reason I say this is because caffeine dehydrates you and that will decrease your supply. I can always tell the difference in my supply on days that I am properly hydrated verses the days I am not. So drink that water and reduce the caffeine!
  • Eat plenty of calories! This has been one of the toughest parts it all for me because I so desperately wanted to lose the baby weight as soon as I had Colt, but I had to put my own vanity aside for the sake of my child. You have to eat enough calories to nourish both yourself and your baby. A good rule of thumb that I go by is eat however many calories you at before you got pregnant PLUS 300 calories. The extra 300 are for your baby while you are breastfeeding. 
  • Eat a balanced diet. Just because you need to eat more, doesn't mean you have to eat unhealthy foods. Feed your body a balanced diet of proteins, healthy fats, and energizing carbohydrates that will take care of your needs as well as baby's. 
My Favorite Foods for Increasing Milk Supply-

  • WATER- I swear, if you don't eat anything else on this list, at least drink your water everyday. I promise that will make a world of a difference. 
  • Oatmeal
  • Ripe Bananas 
  • Gatorade- I drink a small 8-12oz glass of regular gatorade every evening and in the morning my supply is overflowing. 
  • Salmon
  • Almonds
  • Spinach

I hope this post has been a source of support and encouragement for all you wonderful mothers and future mamas out there. Nursing exclusively has been a lot of work, but I have to say it has been worth it. I hope you all can read this and know that it is possible to exclusively breastfeed your baby while working and maintaining a semblance of a life outside of the house. And just remember that whatever choice you make for your baby on how to feed him/her, know that you are making the best choice for YOU and YOUR baby and no one else's

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