Low Milk Supply and How To Boost It

Low Milk Supply and How To Boost It

Most women who breastfeed do not need to generally worry about low milk supply, however there can be moments when they notice a dip in their supply.  This is usually ok and normal, but supply should still be monitored to make sure that baby is getting enough breastmilk to sustain ideal growth.  There are signs to look for that indicate low supply and things to do to help increase the supply.

Mother holding babyYou may think you have low milk supply if your baby seems hungry or unsettled after feeding, or if he wants to feed often with short pauses between feedings, but this is often times not the case.

Signs You May Have Low Milk Supply

There are however, actual signs that let you know your baby isn’t getting enough milk:

  1. Baby has poor or really slow weight gain
  2. Baby is not producing wet/dirty diapers, meaning they are passing small amounts of concentrated urine
  3. Baby is showing signs of dehydration such as a sunken soft spot or low energy levels

If you notice any of these signs then it’s more likely that your baby isn’t getting enough milk to maintain optimal health and you should contact your doctor right away.

All babies will lose some weight within the first few days after birth. Babies are born with supplies of fat and fluids, which will help them keep going for the first several days.  A healthy newborn is expected to lose 7% to 10% of their birth weight, but should regain that weight within the first 2 weeks or so after birth.  During their first month, most newborns should gain weight at a rate of about 1 ounce (30 grams) per day.  You can read about other reasons for weight-loss in breastfed babies here.

How To Boost Milk Supply

To help you with your breastfeeding, here are some ways that you can increase your supply of milk:

  1. Be sure that your baby is positioned correctly and attached to your breast.
  2. Let your baby feed for as long and often as he wants.
  3. If you feel that your baby isn’t breast feeding enough, offer him more breast feeds.
  4. During each breast feed, make sure you feed from both breasts.
  5. If your baby has been using a dummy, try to stop him.
  6. Some babies may be sleepy and reluctant to feed, which may be the cause of problems with milk supply.
  7. If baby is sleeping more and not feeding as much you can pump and freeze the milk.  This will stimulate the breast to keep it on its natural rhythm of milk production and you will have extra milk on hand for future use.

By following the above tips, you’ll do your part in making sure you have enough milk when it comes time to breast feed. If you are uncertain or have other questions, be sure to ask your doctor, as he can answer any type of question you may have.

Other Tips to Increase Milk Supply

Stay hydrated!  The number one ingredient in breastmilk is water so make sure you give your body enough water each day.

Talking to a lactation consultant can help with getting baby to latch properly, positioning yourself and baby correctly for optimal feeding, they may also suggest a schedule for feeding/pumping to increase supply.

Maintain a healthy diet.  There are certain foods that can help promote milk production.  Try these next time you think you may have a dip in your milk supply:Oatmeal for breastmilk production, nuts for increasing milk supply, fenugreek tea to boost milk supply

  • Fenugreek – you can take supplements or herbal tea containing fenugreek
  • Oats – grab a bowl of oatmeal
  • Brewers yeast – put some on your oatmeal 😉 or I like to sprinkle it on my popcorn – or treat yourself to a beer
  • Fennel
  • Nuts – I have definitely used peanuts to help elevate my supply from time to time
  • You can also try my No Bake Lactation Energy Bites – awesome for a quick grab and go option
  • I also created the Best Lactation Cookie Recipe Ever – who needs an excuse to eat cookies?!

Essential Oils for Milk Production

  • Fennel
  • Dill
  • Cardamom
  • Lavender
  • Clary Sage
  • Slave for increasing milk supply – contains Geranium, Clary Sage, and Basil

The Wrap-up

It is natural for your breastmilk to ebb and flow and a lot of it is determined by baby.  They go through growth spurts, illnesses, days of sleeping a ton, and just plain fussiness.  These things are all normal and the best thing you can do is adapt, take baby’s lead and most importantly, don’t panic or stress about it because that can only add to the issue.  Baby and your breasts have a relationship and they get each other, just make sure you are a loving, caring, attentive facilitator of that beautiful relationship and don’t give up, you can do it!

No Bake Lactation Energy Bites

No Bake Lactation Energy Bites

I’m in love with these little lactation energy bites!  They are so easy to make and they taste great too.  I do fancy my lactation cookie recipe, but these have some of the same great ingredients in them that help boost milk production and they take a fraction of the time to make.

At some point in your breastfeeding journey you may notice a decrease in your milk production.  This can happen for different reasons, but don’t fret, you can eat certain foods that will help boost your supply.  Eating milk producing foods is just one way to help your supply.  There are teas and other techniques that can help boost your breastmilk too, but having some of these no bake lactation energy bites on hand will be one thing you can eat as soon as you sense a dip in your production.

These no bake lactation energy bites include the following milk boosting ingredients:

  • Peanut butter
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Flaxseed
  • Oats

Peanut butter is the perfect snack even on it’s own when you’re hungry and breastfeeding.  It is a great source of protein and will give you a boost of energy and the healthy fats it contains help to boost milk supply.

Brewers yeast contains B-vitamins which help boost energy.  It also contains chromium, selenium, iron, and protein.  Along with the B-vitamins, the protein and iron will help with energy and even elevate mood.  I wasn’t able to find any brewers yeast on island, but I used this nutritional yeast instead.  Yeasts are from the fungi family.  Brewers yeast and nutritional yeast are deactivated so they won’t have any frothy or leavening ability.  You can use these 2 yeasts (brewers or nutritional) in your recipes, but don’t use baker’s yeast!

Flaxseed is an amazing superfood and is chalk full of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, B-vitamins, and lignans that fight cancer cells and lower the risk of heart disease.  And flaxseed helps boost milk production!

Oatmeal is a good source of iron and it’s known that an anemic mother can see a decrease in her milk supply.  It therefore makes sense that eating foods rich in iron will help to increase milk supply.  I actually used Bob’s Red Mill Old Country Style Muesli because it has the oats, but also a lot of other yummy bits like raisins, dates, sunflower seeds, rye, barley, flaxseed, and walnuts.  If that’s too much for you just use regular oats – dry, not cooked.

No Bake Lactation Energy Bites
 
Prep time
Total time
 
These little balls of goodness are full of great milk producing ingredients. When there's no time to bake whip up a batch of these and you'll be set!
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 15 balls
Ingredients
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups oats (or muesli)
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 2 tbs ground flaxseed
  • 2 tbs brewers yeast (or nutritional yeast)
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 tsp almond extract
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in your Kitchenaid Mixer with the paddle attachment and set to stir until ingredients are combined.
  2. Use the tablespoon measure to scoop out the mixture and make balls.
  3. Eat immediately or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Notes
Add a handful of chocolate chips to add some flavor and texture!

The cool thing about these no bake energy lactation bites is that while they will help to boost milk supply of a breastfeeding mother they can also just be eaten by anyone for their healthy and energy boosting ingredients!  It’s a healthy snack full of protein, iron, fiber, and B-vitamins.  So even if you’re done breastfeeding I highly recommend keeping some of these on hand.

I’d love to hear what you think!  Did you make this recipe?  Tell me in the comments below.

Xo,
Emmy

 

Why Lanolin Nipple Balm is Bad and What to Use Instead

Why Lanolin Nipple Balm is Bad and What to Use Instead

Nipple cream, nipple balm, nipple salve, nipple ointment…. Whatever you call it, when you start breastfeeding you will need some, and most new moms reach for a lanolin nipple balm.  I did.  But then I learned what was actually in lanolin and I stopped using it immediately.  

The first few weeks of breastfeeding are the most difficult, but you can get through it, especially with the right balm.  I remember a few nights where Adam would hand the baby and when he would latch on it would take everything I had to not let out a cry and scare him.  My nipples were SO raw.  It lasted 6 weeks with Julian, my first, until my nipples toughened up enough to not want to cry every time I fed him.  It sucks, but it passes.  It’s kinda like when you wear close toed shoes all winter and then break out the flip flops in spring and that area in between your toes hurts until it gets used to the flip flops again… but like times a million.   The one thing that got me through it was my nipple balm, I tried a couple store bought ones after Julian was born.  I rubbed some on after every single feeding!  I had it by my bed and in my diaper bag to make sure it was easily within reach after every feeding.  BUT!  When I was breastfeeding Charlie, my second son, I made my own and that was by far the best one!!

Not all nipple balms are created equal.

Ingredients were really important to me.  Yes, it’s for mommy’s nipples, but it’s going into baby’s mouth so I wanted to make sure it was natural and healthy for baby.  Unfortunately, this was an after thought for me the first time, but I hope after reading this article you’ll pick the right one from the start and avoid my mistake.

Probably the most popular nipple balms are the Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream or the Medela Tender Care Lanolin.  These were the ones that were recommended to me when I was pregnant by other moms so I bought some thinking I’d be ahead of the game once baby came.  I used it for a little while, it honestly didn’t seem to work that well, but I had no reference at this point, it was my first time nursing a baby and I thought that my nipples were just meant to hurt.  Then I started thinking more about the balm and then I realized I had no idea what lanolin even was.

What’s Exactly in Lanolin Nipple Balm?

So, I looked it up and lanolin is a byproduct of wool.  It’s also called wool wax or wool grease and it’s secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep.  It’s basically what keeps a sheep’s wool waterproof and their skin protected.  It has many uses by humans, nipple balm is one of them, but others range from lubricants, rust-preventatives, shoe polish, cosmetics, and even baseball players use it to soften and break in their gloves.  So, it’s kind of a catch all lubricant, but again, it’s going into baby’s mouth multiple times a day so I kept researching.

Here’s the thing, let’s go back to those sheep.  Sheep sound natural, right?  Well, not exactly.  To make it usable for us, people have to process the lanolin and purify it to remove dirt, sweat, dust, pollen, fecal matter and pesticides.  Yes, farmers treat sheep with pesticides because, like a dog with fleas, sheep’s wool makes a nice, cozy home for all types of bugs like fleas and mites.  Scientists have studied lanolin samples and found traces of several types of pesticides.  And they found that the toxins can accumulate in breastmilk.  Ingesting these pesticides directly or via mother’s milk is dangerous for a baby and their brand new sensitive systems.  Depending how much is ingested it can cause allergies or poisoning.

Once I learned all of this it was clear to me that lanolin shouldn’t be used as a nipple balm.  I was frustrated that I even used it in the first place, but the only thing I could do now is get a better one.  I wanted a balm that not only protected my nipples from the pain of nursing for the first time, but that actually had some healing properties to help restore my skin.  I searched for natural, organic, and healthier balms and found plenty of options!

I didn’t have access to all of these at the time since I needed to buy some on island in a bit of a crunch, but if you are keen to use Amazon then you’ve got lots of choices.  Here are my top 3 picks for the best lanolin-free, natural, and organic nipple balms:

    • Upsrping Nipple Balm – This is the one I bought on island and I really love it. It’s USDA Certified Organic, uses a coconut oil base, and contains calendula flower and rosemary seed extract.  Coconut oil is a natural antibacterial and anti-fungal, and it moisturizes the skin very well.  Calendula reduces pain and swelling when applied to skin, and rosemary seed extract is an antioxidant that is also thought to help fight free-radicals. Ingredients: Organic coconut oil, organic beeswax, organic sunflower seed oil, organic shea butter, organic cocoa seed butter, organic calendula flower extract, organic rosemary seed extract.
    • Cora Organic’s Organic Nipple Balm – with Coconut Oil and Chamomile – I like this one because it’s also USDA Certified Organic, they only use 6 ingredients and they are all plant-based. Their proprietary blend of essential oils have natural healing properties, while their plant based moisturizers prevent cracking and dryness, and with every purchase, they give pads (panty liners) to girls in need.  Ingredients: Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Organic Beeswax, Organic Sunflower Seed Oil, Organic Marshmallow Leaf/Root Extract, Organic Chamomile Extract
    • Boob-ease by Bamboobies – Organic Nipple Balm, lanolin free, and only 5 ingredients. I am a huge fan of Bamboobies, not only for their nipple cream and nursing pads, but also their story.  I love an entrepreneur with a strong mission.  She had the idea and she ran with it!  But back to the nipple balm.  This one is Certified Organic by the USDA and Oregon Tilth, which is a non-profit organic certifier in the US.  Oregon Tilth has been around since the mid 70s and they shaped the standards for the 1990 Organic Food Production Act in the US and they are recognized in 7 countries worldwide.  Ingredients:  Extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root, calendula flower.

 Or….The Best Option!

 

  •  
    • Make it yourself!! – This is the BEST one by far!  It wasn’t till my my second pregnancy that I discovered the amazing health benefits of essential oils.  During my pregnancy I made my own belly butter to help moisturize and nourish my stretching belly skin and then the next step was to make my own nipple balm once baby Charlie arrived.  You can find my recipe for the nipple balm I made HERE.  It took the painful stage from 6 weeks to 2 weeks!  Ingredients:  Mango butter, bee’s wax, almond oil, coconut oil, essential oils: lavender, geranium, frankincense, helichrysum, Roman chamomile. 

Once I switched from lanolin based nipple balm to the Upspring organic and natural nipple balm and then to my own homemade version, my poor, raw nipples actually started healing!  It was such a game changer and I had peace of mind knowing that my baby was ingesting natural and organic ingredients.  I was one happy momma!

The bonus to these balms too is that once your nipples are healed and used to nursing you’ll stop needing the balm for yourself and you can use it for baby!  When Julian started drooling like crazy at around 3 months and sucking on his hands nonstop, his little chin, cheeks, and hands, would get chapped with red bumps. We made it part of our nightly routine before bed to put the nipple balm on his face and a little on his hands and it really helped his skin!  Nipple balm can be used for chapped lips, rough cuticles, rashes, diaper cream, or even breast pump lube.

If you’re pregnant or nursing currently I highly recommend making your own nipple balm, and if you don’t want to please use one of the organic and natural ones I mentioned above.  Stay away from lanolin – it’s not healthy for you or baby and it won’t help heal your nipples.

Let me know in the comments if you have made your own nipple balm or which natural one your chose instead!

 

 

 

Easy Ways to Make Your Water More Interesting

Easy Ways to Make Your Water More Interesting

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you need to up your water intake significantly to stay hydrated. The Office on Women’s Health, a US based resource, recommends that pregnant women drink 10 cups (2.4 liters) and breastfeeding women drink 13 cups (3.1 liters) of fluids a day! Your body is working so much harder during pregnancy and breastfeeding and it’s essential to support those systems with extra fluids.

Keep in mind that water should be the main form of fluids you consume because it’s the purest form of hydration, readily available, inexpensive, and calorie-free, but we do still get water from other drinks too such as juices, herbal teas, and even milk and coffee provide additional hydration.

Water is the heavy-hitter here and a true necessity during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but if you’re looking for a little more flavor and still wanna keep it natural try adding these elements to your next glass of H2O:

 

  • Juice
  • Lemon, lime, or orange slices
  • Infuse it with cucumber slices
  • Muddled berries like raspberries or strawberries
  • Use sparkling water

Bottoms up!!

Xo,
Emmy