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!

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!




Julian’s Favorite Books

Julian’s Favorite Books

It can be hard keeping little ones entertained and involved.  Toys and books are pretty much the go-to for things to do… indoors anyway.  I’ve had some friends asking me to post about Julian’s favorite books.  I thought this was a great idea because we read books every day Julian definitely has his handful of favorites that he goes to every single time.  And while this may hold true on Tuesday and then be completely different on Thursday, I think I’ve noticed the pattern long enough that I can share Julian’s favorite books list with confidence.  Still, as a 1 year old, his attention span and interests don’t last long.  These books have kept his attention because of the illustrations and the interactive elements.  I’m sure you’re little one will love them too!

I try to change it up and pick out different books sometimes, for my own sanity, but he will shove them away and grab for his faves.  You can’t fight what works I guess!

Here is Julian’s List of Favorite Books:

  1. 10 Little Ladybugs By Melanie Gerth and Laura Huliska-Beith
    Julian’s favorite part about this book is the little ladybugs and the holes.  As we read it he touches the red, yellow, and orange bugs on each page and puts his fingers through the holes.  The artwork is beautiful and it’s a good book for practicing numbers, counting, and rhyming.
  2. Noisy Farm By Thomas Nelson (Babytown)
    We picked up this book on a whim in the checkout line at a TJ Maxx in New York a few months ago and it turned out to be a great buy!  The thing about this board book is the tabs on the side.  Julian loves to turn the pages with the help of the tabs.  The illustrations are colorful and teach about the farm animal sounds.
  3. Where is Baby’s Belly Button? By Karen Katz
    My mother in law sent us this book and Julian loves the little flaps that he can pull back to find the body part of that page for example baby’s hands, mouth, and of course, the belly button.  It’s a good interactive book.  The flaps get pretty bent the more we use it, but that’s par for the course.
  4. Tall and Short: A Peek-Through Book of Opposites By Jonathan Litton & Fhiona Galloway (My Little World)
    This is a fun and colorful board book that’s easy to read and emphasizes learning opposites.  There are cutouts on every page that Julian likes to put his fingers through and use to turn the pages.  It’s an easy book to run through a couple times if you want.
  5. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  By Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr.
    This is a classic and for good reason.  The simple illustrations keep it nice and basic for babies to learn different animals.  I think Julian is attracted to the bright colors and big picture of one animal at a time.  This is an easy book that you can just open to any page and quiz baby on what is pictured.
  6. Touch and Feel Farm By DK
    This is a pretty simple book, but what makes it one of Julian’s favorites is the things he can touch and feel.  They put different textured material within the pages to show what it would be like to touch the farm animals.  The animals include horses, dogs, chicks, pigs, and more.  They offer a board book and a hardcover.  We have the hardcover which is still pretty sturdy because of the reinforced pages that have to hold the textured material.  I don’t worry about Julian ripping or bending the pages when he turns them.

There you have Julian’s list of his favorite books as a 1 year old. I’ve pulled them out for you on Amazon below so you can see the covers and find them super easily.  As his preference changes, I’ll do another post like this one with some new book titles to keep it fresh.

I’d love to know what your little one’s favorite books are.  Share what books you read daily in the comments below!


Julian’s Birth Story

Julian’s Birth Story

On Wednesday, my mom and I went to lunch for some curry.  I was 2 days past my due date so we went out for spicy food to help start labor.  Well, turns out, it actually worked!!  We were enjoying a nice, relaxing lunch, eating slowly and people watching.    I started having those feelings, what I thought was baby’s bum pushing up in my right ribs. I’d had this feeling before but we always thought it was the baby rolling over.  Turns out those were contractions because I started to notice a pattern it, every 10 minutes.  I think my labor started!

We drove home, still timing them and logging them down in my notebook.  I called Adam at work and he answered saying, “You’re having contractions.” He just knew.

He came home from work and we all went out to dinner for some pasta.  We chose Italian because we looked up what foods were best to eat before delivery and it said carbs.  Makes sense to carb-load before the biggest workout of your life!

When we got home I took a hot bath and went to bed.  I woke up at 1:30am to stronger surges (the hypno-birthing term for contractions) and they were closer together but then they lightened up again so we went back to sleep.

We had an appointment at 8:30am on Thursday with Dr. D for a non-stress test since I was past my due date.  I showered and dressed and as I got more active so did the surges.  Once we got to the doctor’s office it was very clear I was in labor.  We didn’t do the non-stress test, instead, Dr. D did an ultrasound to check the size of the baby.  The scan showed he was over 10 lbs. 8 oz.!!!  Like, what??   He sent us to the radiology lab at the hospital to measure baby more accurately and they had him at 8 lbs. 10 oz.  So, ok, we knew he was big, but that’s a pretty big range!

Kelly, our doula, came to the hospital and they put me in a labor room.  Everyone had read our birth plan and they were very respectful of it.  It was made up of hypnobirthing techniques, things like self-hydrating and no pain meds.  Yep, I went all hippie-dippie and decided it was best for baby if I didn’t have any pain meds.

Once we were settled in the room I changed into my birthing gown and went into my relaxation/meditation and breathing exercises that we had practiced with our hypno-birthing book.  I was doing great so far and the relaxation was working.  The surges started to get stronger and we used different positions to get more comfortable.  We did so many positions – standing, bent over the bed, on the birth ball, squatting, leaning on Adam, on my side, on my knees, and some more I probably can’t remember.

One of the things that made it harder was that baby was sunny side up so I had really painful back labor.  They told me the baby would spiral during delivery and get into the right position, but he never did.  Kelly rubbed my hips/sacrum and it was so helpful.  She was worth her weight in gold for those hip massages.  Adam was amazing too, he was so supportive and comforting and involved the whole time.

I was plugging along with my birth plan and breathing and visualizing and relaxing, but 24 hours in now and wasn’t making much progress.  The surges continued getting stronger.  Adam and my mom were about to get some lunch when my water broke at 2:30pm.  The only words I could get out of my mouth were “Water, water, water!”  They all thought I was thirsty, till they figured out what I was talking about.

The next 8-9 hours were a complete blur.  The labor got stronger and harder and I still had no meds at this point and WOW it was intense.  I think Dr. D showed up around 5pm.

At 10pm he asked me if I could go another hour like this.  I was only dilated to 9.5 cm, but yeah sure, it had already been almost 30 hours so what was one more?

Not much happened in that hour so Dr. D gave me Pitocin to see if that would dilate my cervix more.  It didn’t do that, but it did make my contractions super strong and made my body involuntarily push, and I mean PUSH!  They would come on and I couldn’t help but push.  The problem was that I now had some swelling on my cervix.  So even if I did dilate that last half cm it was like 2 steps forward one step back because the swelling made it smaller.  My baby was working so hard too and he started getting more molding on his head than the doctor was comfortable with.

I never looked at the machine that was monitoring my contractions, but afterwards, mom and Adam said they were reaching the top of the chart.  I made it all the way to the pushing part of labor without any medicine.  I felt very accomplished in that.  At this point though shit got real and I was talking to God and the Universe to help me.  The only words I could get out in the middle of a contraction, in a whisper, were, “You guys.  You guys.  This really hurts.”  I didn’t scream or yell like in the movies.  In my head to the Universe I kept saying, “help me.”  It was a very interesting experience.  Nevertheless, my body and my baby weren’t progressing and it became the topic of conversation in my room.  My brain was so checked out, I had my eye mask on, but I could hear everyone around me.  Adam by my head and hands rubbing me, Kelly next to him, doc by my feet, mom in the chair, and some midwives too. I heard them chitchatting with each other or talking to or about me.  I went through another huge contraction and then everyone got quiet.  I pushed my mask up to my forehead and looked at Adam first.  His eyes were welled up with tears.  That made me look at Kelly and Dr. D and I could tell by their faces.  I said, “C-section?”  They all nodded.  I looked back at Adam and said, “I’m sorry” – I felt so defeated.  Adam said, “No babe, you did awesome, I’m just worried about you.”

This was the moment my pain threshold hit the floor.  Mentally, I now knew that I was going in for a C-section so I didn’t want to push, I didn’t want to be in pain anymore, I was done, I wanted it to stop…now!  But that’s when it got even harder.

Where was the anesthesiologist??

I started asking anyone I didn’t recognize if they were Dr. Davis, the anesthesiologist.

Waiting for him and contracting like that was the longest hour of my life!

They wheeled me to the OR and Dr. D brought Adam to get washed up and put on scrubs.  There was a tiny moment there when I saw Adam walk into the room in scrubs and I forgot all about what was happening.  I thought, “Damn, my husband looks good in scrubs!  He missed his calling!  He shoulda been a doctor!”

Then back to reality…

They transferred me to the table in the OR.

My body kept contracting.  HARD!

I was sitting on the table when I had another huge one and I flung my arms around the OR nurse and squeezed her as hard as I could while my whole body contracted.  It happened again after Dr. Davis sterilized my back.  This time I grabbed Ali, one of the midwives.  Then Dr. Davis gave me the spinal and it was instant relief.  It was so nice.  No more pressure, no more weight, I felt relaxed for the first time in 32 hours.

Adam was on my left side, they put up the curtain, checked to make sure I couldn’t feel anything below my waist, and began.  I watched Adam’s face for any reaction of what he was seeing.  He was good though, he didn’t cringe at all.

It was so fast and then heard our baby boy let out a strong, healthy cry.  I couldn’t see him yet, but just hearing him was amazing.  I looked at Adam and said, “That’s our son!” We both had tears in our eyes.  Luckily Dr. Davis told him to get the camera just before baby came so we have some pictures.

They snipped the cord as close to the placenta as they could and took him over to the warming table to wipe him down, check him over, and weigh him – 9lbs 11oz.!!!  Can you believe that??  They wrapped him, brought him over to me, and laid him on my chest.  It wasn’t skin to skin, but I was finally holding my baby!

Adam left with the baby to go do skin to skin while I got stitched up.  I could feel Dr. D and Dr. Ching moving stuff around and chatting.  I asked what they were doing now, and then now, and now.  They told me each time.  Then I said, “it may be a little late, but did you cut me low enough that I can still wear a bikini?” They laughed and said, “yeah, it’s a little late for that, but yes, you’ll be fine.

I finally got wheeled to my recovery room where Adam, the baby, and my mom were.

I was SO tired.

Adam wouldn’t tell my mom his name till I got there.  We had a name in mind but wanted to meet our baby before choosing it for sure.  Once I got to the room they put my baby on me and he began to nurse right away, he knew exactly what to do.  It was so sweet nursing him for the

first time. He was so tiny and perfect and sweet. I looked at Adam and said, “Is that his name?” and we both nodded and agreed.  I said, “Mom, this is Julian.”  That gave her the biggest smile.

I was in the hospital for 3 nights and then we got to bring our little nugget home.  And the rest of the journey began!


PS – What’s your birth story?  Leave a comment below.  Did you get the experience you wanted?  Did you have a plan or just go with the flow?  I’d love to hear about the day that changed your life 🙂