Why & How I Increased My Milk Supply
Having a frozen supply of Breastmilk can be the ultimate game-changer for all nursing moms. By the end of my breastfeeding journey, I increased my milk supply enough to allow me to store over 30 ounces of milk per day. But trust me when I say this didn’t happen overnight.
Some women enjoy nursing in public, but for me, it was always a struggle. I found myself revolving my day to day schedule around my baby’s nursing needs. In the beginning, pumping didn’t seem like an option. Every time I would pump, I was lucky to get half an ounce. This ultimately made me feel resentful about my entire Breastfeeding experience. I spend hours upon hours reading articles, books, and even watching YouTube videos. This allowed me to come up with a game plan, a game plan that actually worked!
I set a goal for myself to give my baby breastmilk only for at least her first year. Anyone who knows me knows I will do anything to accomplish what I set my mind to. Below you’ll find my “Itsy Mistakes” and my “Brittsy Tips” for how I exclusively breastfeed my baby while still storing over 35 ounces of pumped milk each day. I should add that I am in no way, shape, or form a Lactation specialist, nor am I certified in any way. All of my tips come from hours of research & lots of trial and error.
Itsy Mistake #1: Allowing My Baby to Favor One Breast Over the Other Increased My Milk Supply On One Side Only
Soon after my milk supply came in, my left breast became very sore and felt extremely hard. It was as if I had rocks shoved inside my bra. I later found out that I had a clog. Since breastfeeding was a foreign language to me, I had no idea what was happening. Being in so much pain on my left side caused me only to latch my baby on my right. By avoiding my left breast, I increased my milk supply on my right side only. Long term, this created my left side to coin the infamous nickname “slacker boob.” I still pumped out the left side to relieve my pain, but I didn’t know that the best way to unclog a clogged duct is to allow your baby to nurse on that side.
Brittsy Tip #1 : Nurse on Both Sides Each Feeding
I was told by hospital staff to always offer both sides during feedings, but some of my friends were instructed to alternate between each side when nursing. Ironically, those friends seemed to have a supply issue. With that being said, I highly recommend nursing your baby on both sides, each feeding. I kept a journal where I would write down what side my baby started and ended on. That way, during each nursing session, I knew to start on the side she last took. Offering both sides right off the bat increased my milk supply.
Brittsy Tip #2: How I Increased My Milk Supply For My Slacker Breast
I have read that it is entirely normal to have one breast producing more than the other. However, my left side was two cups sizes smaller! I increased my milk supply on my left side by pumping that side for ten minutes after nursing my daughter. Keep in mind; both sides were offered to her during our nursing session. However, by pumping your slacker side after feedings, you tell your body you need more milk. This is where the supply and demand concept comes into play, which I’ll discuss in further detail later on.
Brittsy Tip #3: Contact a Lactation Specialist
If you have issues getting your baby to latch or your baby is favoring one side, call your insurance company and ask for information about a lactation specialist near you. We had a company come to our house, and it was the best thing we ever did. Within two minutes of latching my baby onto my left side, the lactation consultation gave me corrections to achieve the proper latch. With that minor correction, I instantly felt relieved while my baby was nursing on the left side.
Itsy Mistake #2: Eating Lactation Cookies Around the Clock Increased My Milk Supply, But Not My Waistline
I bet my bottom dollar that every breastfeeding mother has explore location cookies. I had my mom make me homemade lactation cookies, and the cookies increased my milk supply. But they weren’t helping me fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans. This was when I knew I had to look into other options.
Brittsy Tip #1: Liquid IV
If you research how to increase your milk supply, you will find that water is vital. A family friend gave me such good advice before I had Josi. I was told to always have a glass of water nearby during nursing sessions. This is because breastfeeding will make you thirsty. With that being said, I made myself drink 12-24 oz of water every couple of hours. However, all that water intake caused me to feel bloated and suppressed my appetite.
Some breastfeeding moms like to drink Gatorade or Body Armor, which are full of electrolytes. I also did the same, and it definitely increased my milk supply. However, these drinks are full of sugar, so it wasn’t the best solution in the long run. That was when I found out about Liquid IV. Although Liquid IV contains 11 grams of sugar, it’s still better than the sports drinks’ 36 grams. I began adding Liquid IV to my water 3x a day and had great results.
Brittsy Tip #2: Upspring Milkflow Fenugreek & Blessed Thistle Powder
Once my daughter stopped cluster feeding (which all us moms know can be such a trying time), I started using the Upspring Drink mix. A friend of mine, who also just had a baby, told me about this product. I didn’t mind the taste of it. But my friend wasn’t a huge fan, so she told me she added this supplement to her morning shakes.
I was so thrilled with the results that I shared my success on a Facebook Group for Breastfeeding moms. Although I thought people would applaud me for my recommendation, many moms jumped down my throat. Some studies have shown that Fenugreek can cause the opposite effect for some women. Fenugreek studies have shown this herb to dry up milk supply. However, for me, the exact opposite happened. I noticed an increase in supply after only two days of using this product. I highly suggest this product to any mom looking to increase milk production.
Brittsy Tip #3: Sunflower Lection
By adding supplements to your daily routine, you may find yourself experiencing your first clogged duct. This can be extremely painful. This can often lead to Mastitis (a painful infection of breast tissue) caused by a clogged milk duct. Unfortunately, I experienced Mastitis three times, which led me to slow down the number of supplements I took. One of my friends suggested I take Sunflower Lection, which helps keep your ducts from clogging. Once I started taking this supplement, I never had a clog again. I wish someone told me about this sooner, but I am glad I can help other mamas not experience the same pain I did. And for any moms who have gotten Mastitis, you know the pain!
Brittsy Tip #4: Legendiary Milk Products
This company came upon an Instagram advertisement, so I started to follow their account. Not only does this company offer an excellent variety of supplements, but they also add daily tips and go Live on Instagram with professionals in this field. I learned so much by following along on Instagram, and their supplements increased my milk supply during pumping sessions. I went from pumping 2-3 oz to 6-8 every time I pumped. Keep in mind, the key to getting maximum output is to pump around the same time every day.
Itsy Mistake #3: Sleeping All Night When Your Baby Does
Josi started sleeping through the night at about eight weeks old (I know, I got lucky). However, after sleeping all night long for about a week, my supply dropped. This was because your milk production is based upon “supply and demand.” If you’re not emptying your breasts, your body will start to adjust and make less milk during those periods that your baby isn’t nursing. As much as I loved my sleep, I researched and discovered that your body produces the most milk during those late night/early morning feedings. For moms who aren’t worried about a freezer supply, you can enjoy all the extra sleep. You may wake up for a couple of weeks with rock-solid breasts, but eventually, your body will slow down its nighttime production. However, if you are anything like me and want to add to your frozen collection or even keep your supply as is, you’ll want to follow my Brittsy Tips below.
Brittsy Tip #1: Pump Before Bed, Late Night, Early Morning & If Possible Throughout the Day
Once your baby starts sleeping through the night or for longer stretches, waking up to pump can be a game-changer. As much as I loved the extra sleep, I noticed a decrease in my daily output. Research shows this is because your body is adjusting to your child’s new feeding schedule. Since your baby is sleeping throughout the night, your body doesn’t think it needs to produce milk during those hours. By sacrificing a full nights sleep, I not only increased my milk supply, but double my frozen stock.
The key to adding these pump sessions is to stick to the same pump schedule as much as possible. For me, that meant pumping between 9-10 PM, 1-2 AM, and again between 4-5 AM. Those three tiresome pump sessions added 20-25 ounces to my frozen supply. So come morning, I already had a lot of milk on standby.
Since my goal was to store as much milk as possible, I only offered pumped milk when I wasn’t with my baby. I also added pump sessions to my daily routine. By the end of each day, I was storing anywhere between 30-40 ounces of breastmilk.
Brittsy Tip #2: Pour Hour Pumping
If you are super adamant about getting all the extra sleep, you can give Power Hour pumping a try. The key to successful power hour pumping is to pick a time and stick to it for a week. I first gave power hour pumping a shot when Josi was only about 6-8 weeks old. I found that between 5-7 PM, Josi was trying to latch on more than usual because my supply (just like many other breastfeeding moms) dropped during the evening hours.
Since I was usually home alone with Josi, I picked a time when I knew my husband would be home. Every night around 6 PM, I power hour pumped for a week. There are different ways to get to the one hour mark, but I would pump for 20 minutes, rest 10, pump for 10, rest for ten, and then pump for another 10. You will find that during the first couple of days, you may not produce much milk at all. I remember jumping for joy when I was able to store close to 5 ounces early on, but by the end of the week, I doubled my output. Power hour pumping can be beneficial anytime you find your supply dropping.
Itsy Mistake #4: Allowing Your Body to Adjust to Your Babies New Feeding Schedule
Once Josi stopped cluster feeding, and I stopped waking her every two hours to nurse (until she was six weeks old), she began nursing every 3-4 hours. I quickly noticed a drop in my supply and even more of a decline once we introduced her to food when she was about four months old. This goes back to the “supply and demand” concept we discussed earlier. My body was starting to regulate and adapt to my babies new nursing needs. However, since I knew what my supply was capable of producing, I knew I wanted to take advantage of this to up my frozen supply.
Brittsy Solution: Pump or Feed Your Baby Every Two-Three Hours
Instead of allowing my supply to adapt to Josi’s new feeding schedule, I set a goal to make sure I was emptying my breasts every 2 hours. Since my Medela Sonata Breastpump and Handsfree Pumping Bra, allowed me to carry the pump around while pumping hands free, I was able to pump even while Josi was awake or while playing with her. The key to adding pump sessions to your daily schedule is to pump around the same time every day. By trying to stick to a pumping schedule, you can trick your body in producing more milk during those times, which in return will increase your output. Adding pump sessions to your day to day routine becomes more manageable as your baby gets older, and the schedule begins to regulate.
Every Nursing Experience is Different
Everyone’s nursing experience is different. Many people in my life couldn’t understand why I revolved my day to day schedule around nursing and pumping for my baby. I sacrificed a lot of time and energy to educate myself to form a game plan that worked for us. I knew my breastfeeding journey would be a lot of work, and there were many times I wanted to throw in the towel. However, I was not only able to persevere and go above & beyond my goal, but by having so much of a frozen supply, I was able to stop breastfeeding when Josi was almost ten months old. Josi was still getting my breastmilk through a bottle, but my body was no longer a slave to her nursing needs. This caused me to be able to cut out pump sessions slowly. By utilizing my “Brittsy Tips” above, I hope you can have the same success.
Below are links to all the products that assisted me during my Breastfeeding Journey.