Help please! How do I increase my milk supply?

Shelly - posted on 09/19/2009 ( 68 moms have responded )

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So I thought I would post this question to all the experienced moms. My son will be 3 months old next week and my milk supply is slowing down. I have had to switch to pumping and feeding him by the bottle because I'm not producing enough for him at each feeding. I continue to pump and drink more and more water but my supply hasn't gone up. When I drink other liquids like Sprit or Lemonade my supply seems to go up a little....weird!

Does anyone have any suggestions on what I should do to help my supply? And what do you think about drinking other fluids besides water? I know the doctor always tells me he wants me to mostly drink water.

Thanks, Shelly and Baby Cruz :)

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Melissa - posted on 09/22/2009

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drink half a beer!!! sounds weird, but it works for some. plus half a beer wont hurt your baby.

Lisa - posted on 09/25/2009

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first--stop pumping and giving that to your baby. pump and save the milk for later. right now your baby needs to be nursing on YOU, and nothing else. also I found some information you might like to read that pretty much sums up what I'd say:
* Along with nursing, you may want to add another pumping session or two sometime during your day. You also may want to add a few extra minutes (5-10) of pumping after the baby has finished nursing.

* Allow the baby to meet all of his sucking needs at the breast. Avoid any bottles or pacifiers during this time. Your baby's need to suck ensures that he spends adequate time at the breast to stimulate your supply.

* Avoid supplements including solid food, water, juice, and formula. Adding these will result in your baby nursing less often and you getting less stimulation. You can be sure that your baby is getting enough by counting his wet diapers and bowel movements.

* If your baby requires a supplement for medical reasons, consider using a nursing supplementer at your breast so that you can continue to receive crucial BABY stimulation.

* Snack often on foods rich in protein and calcium.

* Drink enough to satisfy your thirst. Forcing fluids is not necessary and may have the opposite effect. Any type of fluid is satisfactory.

* Rest as much as you can. Consider taking the baby to bed with you for the time period. The rest will benefit you and the close skin-to-skin contact may encourage him to nurse more often.

* Some mothers have found that the herb, Fenugreek, is helpful for increasing milk supply. It works best when combined with increased frequency of nursing and/or pumping. You can find it at your local health food store or nutrition store. The dosage is 2-4 capsules 3 times a day. Most moms notice an increase in supply after using it 1-3 days. It is safe for your baby. While taking it you may notice that your perspiration and urine smell like maple syrup as Fenugreek is used to give artificial Maple syrup its odor. Some moms report diarrhea while taking it that quickly resolves once they stop taking it. If you suffer from asthma, your symptoms may become worse with the Fenugreek. Dosages higher than the recommended one given above may result in hypoglycemia in some mothers. If pregnant, you should NOT use Fenugreek as it may cause uterine contractions. Many moms use it for a quick boost to their supplies. Others have used it long-term with no problems. Other herbs often recommended for increasing milk supply are Blessed Thistle and Alfalfa. For some mothers a combination of herbs seems to work better than one herb alone. You may use the Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, and Alfalfa in combination if you choose.

* If the above measures do not cause a significant increase in your supply, you may want to ask your doctor about Reglan (Metoclopramide), a prescription drug available in the US and sometimes prescribed for low milk supply. Reglan is most effective at doses of 10-15 mg 3 times a day and should not be used for any longer than 2-4 weeks. If you have a history of depression, Reglan should be avoided due to its potential side effects of depression and mood swings. If you live outside the US in a country where the drug Domperidone (Motilium) is approved, it may also be used for low supply and seems to have far fewer side effects than Reglan. The dosage suggested for increasing milk supply is 10-20 mg 3-4 times a day. Domperidone can be compounded by a pharmacist with a prescription in the United States. It can also be obtained in its completed form without a prescription from countries outside the United States. Ordering it in this fashion is legal and considered safe. For more information on obtaining Domperidone, visit this page. Both Domperidone and Reglan can be used with any of the herbs mentioned above.

Written by Becky Flora, BSed, IBCLC
hope this helps!

Michelle - posted on 09/29/2009

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Have you tried Fenugreek? You get it at health food stores like GNC, etc. It worked wonders for me (milk supply went down b/c I had to go to work)! It's not a medicine, but a supplement, so it's safe ;) Also, your milk may smell like maple syrup ( just a side effect), but the baby didn't seem to notice. Try it!! I strongly recommend this! This helped me nurse until my son was 15 mo!!!

Deb - posted on 09/26/2009

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Hi Shelly, I found feeding every two and a half to three hours and giving up to 30 mins on each side really helped with my milk. This worked really well because my bub loved to suck. I always had a drink of water ready while breastfeeding. Are you alternating sides when you feed? For example, feeding from the right breast then the left . And, then for the next feed, starting with the left and then offering the right, etc. I did this, and in the mornings about half an hour before bub would feed I would express from the breast opposite to the starting breast for about ten minutes. Then you feed bub as normal, taking this milk and then breastfeeding bub helps to increase your supply. I would express twice during the day, before the first feed and before the second feed. I would then express after the last night feed (about 7 o'clock). I used the days expressed milk in a bottle for a ten o'clock feed. This gave me a bit of a break from feeding and I was able to go to bed and sleep until the two o'clock feed. It sounds a bit grulling but it really isn't and I had a ready supply of milk.



Babies are very clever they soon work out that it is easier to get a feed from a bottle then from the breast. Also, as they get older and are more curious with the world around them they just want to feed and run.



Good luck, hope my ramblings have been of some help.

This conversation has been closed to further comments

68 Comments

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Shannon - posted on 09/27/2009

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Believe it or not, Zofran by mouth. It's a med for nausea. If you take the pills it helps. I had to restart my milk supply after being in the hospital for a week on a nothing by mouth diet. It worked.

Vanisha - posted on 09/27/2009

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Wow...so many replies!! Its a sensitive issue and could feel everyone's genuine concern.

"No one mentioned cumin seeds,seems like its not that commonly known remedy but its definitely a sure shot one!"

Swallow a teaspoon of cumin seeds with water anytime or before breastfeeding.One more important thing to note is do not drink fluids while breatfeeding,instead eat something during feeding.On the contrary you do feel absolutely very thirsty but you must control your thirst since taking fluids while feeding is believed to make the milk watery!

Also my daughter will be 3 months in another one week!

Regards.

Michelle - posted on 09/27/2009

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Try Organic Mother's Milk (it is a tea) the company that makes it is called Traditional Medicinals. I found it at a health food store. Use if for hot tea or make iced tea out of it, it comes in a tea bag. Blessings . . .

Michelle

Laura - posted on 09/27/2009

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My number one suggestion is to make sure you are getting enough sleep! I nursed my son for 15 months and had supply issues a few times. Luckily I never had to supplement with formula. I pumped 3 times per day while at work (since he was 6 weeks old up until he turned 1 year). And when I started having supply issues (probably around 9 months old), I also pumped after nursing in the morning and before bed. Don't give up, hopefully it will just be temporary but will probably happen from time to time. Good luck!!

Jennifer - posted on 09/27/2009

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You have to eat extra meals even if your not hungry! and go to a natural food store and get a tea called Mother's Milk. I promise this works!

Lindsay - posted on 09/26/2009

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My doctor said you should pump every 3 hours. If your milk is slowing down, then it just might be slowing down. I don't think there is anything you can do to help your supply. Ask your doctor.

Sandra - posted on 09/26/2009

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I have 3 children my oldest is 13 my youngest is 3months... my OBGYN told me to drink a beer to help build my breat milk... i did two weeks ago and my milk is back just fine...

Tanesha - posted on 09/26/2009

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Add more liquid into your diet and most importantly, do not stress! Not just water, try making your own soup, eat cereal and milk for breakfast and before bed, drink water and juice versus soda. Try fenugreek tea as well. The best thing is to latch the baby on each side as much as possible, even you have to wake him up to do it. You should be nursing every 3 hours. Keep your beverages on hand while nursing. Do not nurse in noise and confusion. Find quiet places to nurse and pump.

Lori - posted on 09/26/2009

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When I had my daughter, and she was in the NICU, I would get so discouraged b/c I pumped. A lady with twins was pumping 5 times what I was. She had twins and was storing hers. I mentioned this to the nurse's and they said drink, drink, drink. I noticed when I drank Sierra Mist, I could pump like crazy. I don't know what it is but what works for you is what I would use. Good luck!

Ashley - posted on 09/25/2009

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ask your doctor about it. there is a medication out there specifically for this that helps increase your milk supply. hopefully you find something that works for you!

Yvonne - posted on 09/25/2009

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water is good when your breast feeding. Mine started decreasing when my daughter was about 4 or 5 months so i pumped continuously. even if your hardly getting anything out the continuous suck from the pump will tell your body to make more milk. it helped on me alot to the point where i started becoming engorged again if i didnt pump/feed like clock work. i was able to breast feed her up til aobut 9-10 months when her bottom teeth began bothering me.

Ann - posted on 09/25/2009

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The trick I used (after my doc said it was okay) was a glass of wine. I had trouble getting my milk supply to come in as well. But after the glass of wine, I felt really good and my breasts started feeling full within one hour!

Sarah - posted on 09/25/2009

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The way I always increased my supply was to pump and drink extra fluids, like water, it worked for me

Chelsey - posted on 09/25/2009

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I strictly pumped and fed him by bottle for a little over a year. Every few months, my milk supply would dwindle if I wasn't drinking enough. I would pound water, milk, and tea. By the third day of doing that, my milk supply would be back to normal. You should also try pumping atleast two extra times per day. Within a couple of days, your supply should be up as well. Stressful isn't it?!

Irena - posted on 09/25/2009

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I breastfed my 1st daughter till 2 yrs of age and my 2nd daughter is almost one now, in the past year I had lots of stress due to my husband losing his job, so milk suply was up and down. Fenugreek helped me when the supply was at the lowest. Keep on feeding the baby.

[deleted account]

My lactation consultant had me feed her every hr and half to 2 hr and pump in between. I was constantly feeding her for 12 weeks. She's now over a yr and still eating.

Kayla - posted on 09/24/2009

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I just wanted to let you know that sometimes you can be doing everything right, and your milk just doesn't keep up with the demands of your infant. My advice is to try what you can, but not to stress on this issue.

Amy - posted on 09/24/2009

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I am a medela mom maven and have learned alot about pumping breastmilk this last year with my baby.One thing I learned is it is really not about how long you pump but how often. Yes length does matter a little but when my milk was slow they had me start pumping every two hours for ten minutes. It only took three days and my milk was going crazy. I was able to quite pumping when my baby was 7 months old and right now have 70 bags with 6 ozs. each still in my freezer. He is thirteen months old now and I haven't had to pump or breast feed since 7 months. At the time I stopped pumping I had 250 bags in my freezer. Don't give up every two hours will take it's toll on ya trust me I know but it was well worth it.

Merab - posted on 09/24/2009

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Hello, I am a mother of a 13 month old baby girl...I did exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months hence, I think I could help a sister increase her milk supply. First I would suggest you can try adding black eyed peas in your diet and lotsa green like spinach. Instead in addition to water try taking lots of hot drinks like of porridge or tea/chocolate.



It is important to note that Increase in Demand of breast milk leads to increase in its supply hence In order to increase you milk supply I would recommend that while you are breast feeding the baby on one breast...use your pump to express milk from the other breast..if you do this each time during the day that you breast feed your milk supply willl increase.



Above all...do not be stressed with your low producation of milk...that will only make it worse...just relax, even take the time to admire your baby's photos..this also helps trigger your milk let down hence...boost your milk supply. ALL THE BEST

Tera - posted on 09/24/2009

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I breastfed all three of my children. i had alot of the same problems with my third. For one thing; you need to make sure you are getting rest. I know that is easier said than done!! Especially if you dont have friends or family to help any! But that will definitely slow it down! Also, You can take "alphalpha" that will increase your milk supply. I forget exactly how much you take. But you can call your local Health department or WIC office and ask to speak to the lactation consultant. They can tell you the amount. Also; like the others have said; Let baby nurse at least 20 minutes on each side before pumping and then make sure you pump at least 10 min on each side. also, do not let baby go more than 2-3 hours before nursing. The more you nurse/pump; the more your body will make! this tells your body that the baby's appetite has grown and it needs to pick up with it. I hope this helps you!! I struggled tremendously for the first 5 months with my third because she was a lazy eater! she just wanted to "snack" as they called it and wouldnt pull the hind milk ( the fat part) so she wouldnt gain any weight! I know it is a lot of work and can be very aggrivating and tiresome. But if you hang in there; it wont last forever! And you will be glad you did later!! Especially with all the new diseases and germs that are coming out now! Good luck to you and your baby!!! They are very preciuos!!

Kimberly - posted on 09/24/2009

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I have heard that eating oatmeal helps. The other suggestions about nursing and pumping more are dead on though. The more your baby needs, the more your body makes, but your body doesn't know if it is actually the baby or the pump. Let the baby nurse as long as he wants and pump more often. It will take more time, but once your supply builds up more, you can relax a little more. In the end...it's worth it!

Candace - posted on 09/23/2009

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My son refused to breastfeed so it was extremely difficult. He refused to latch at all. I pumped for 6 weeks every 2 hours to feed him and then had to return to work. About 3 months after I had stopped pumping and thought I had dried out I went out with a girlfriend and had a beer. I woke up in the middle of the night and my breasts were huge and leaking milk again. It was insane. I couldn't believe it but my grandmother told me when they had kids back in her child rearing days and there were issues with drying up all they did was drink a beer and problem solved.

Chanel - posted on 09/23/2009

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I breastfed my son for a year and what I reccomend is to pump as much as possible! I pumped in the morning before my son woke up to feed. Then when he would feed, and as long as he was latched on and sucking the milk was being produced. I pumped during his naps and before I left the house and definately before I went to bed. Pumping kept up my supply very well! And I drank tons of water. If my son fed on one breast and empited that one, I would pump BOTH breast right after and that seemed to help a lot also. The more you pump and feed, the more your body will supply! good luck!!!!

Rebecca - posted on 09/23/2009

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Try drinking a beer! I know it sounds far fetched, however, the yeast in the beer helps rapidly increase your milk supply! I did it for both of my children and will probably have to do it for the third too! Good luck!

Jacqueline - posted on 09/23/2009

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Hi. Drink Esperide. Ask your dr about it. It was prescribed for me and is like a two in one. It increases your milk and also prevents baby blues. Good luck

Erin - posted on 09/23/2009

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I agree with all the Mom's who have said pumping will only decrease your supply (unless its only pumping after the baby is done nursing). This is what I was told by lc's and have read on several bf'ing sites. Can you take a nursing holiday? Basically this is you and your babe staying in bed/couch and just nursing as much as possible even if its just for his comfort and he's not actually drinking anything for 2 days, I've heard these "nursing holidays" work amazingly well to start stimulating the milk production if its slowing down. Was he losing weight? Is that why you started "topping him up?" just because he can drink another 2oz after feeding doesn't mean he actually needed it, we have to be careful not to force feed our babies which is easy to do with a bottle. They will stop when they're done and they usually go through phases where the eat more often, this doesn't mean they're not getting enough this is usually associated with getting ready for a growth spurt but I know some Mom's think this means their baby isn't getting enough from the boob. I highly recommend contacting your LC you used before or the La Leche league so you don't go to far off track if the pumping is what's causing your depleted supply. Good Luck!!!

Krista - posted on 09/23/2009

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Pumping actually decreases your production. It doesn't have the same stimulus for your body that your baby does. Also, make sure you're eating enough as well. You need to consume more calories as a breast feeder.

Maggie - posted on 09/23/2009

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keep pumping and drinking water. When you do breastfeed try to pump when you're done to get out any the baby missed. even if you're not getting anything out try to pump for 5 minutes or so to stimulate the milk production. This might take a while but it worked for me...just keep working at it!

ELISE - posted on 09/23/2009

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Have you been in touch with a lactation specialist? Or have you been in touch with the local LaLeche League? They really helped me out years ago. I do know there are herbs that supposedly helps to increase milk supplies. Good luck.

Amanda - posted on 09/22/2009

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I had the same problem and what i did was made sure i ate frequent meals and i drank water, juice and milk and pumped every 2 to 3 hours!!! it worked! and i had a lot!

Melisa - posted on 09/22/2009

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I to had this problems a number of time's when I was feeding my daughter. I was expressing as well as feeding as I was working. I found different things effected my supply. Nurophen was one that slowed it right up. The only thing I found to increase it was expressing straight after feeding. And to do it every day a couple of times a day. Actually I think I was expressing 4-5 times a day at one stage. Hope this helps. Good luck

Nina - posted on 09/22/2009

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I agree with the fenugreek vitamins the really do work i think you are supposed to take 4 a day and it really does increase the milk flow i did it with my son because i was going dry and my sister in-law did it as well and they arnt very expensive it is worth a try

Lindsey - posted on 09/22/2009

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pump more, the more you pump the more you get, I have twins and I had to stop at three months because I would have to pump pretty much all day for there to be enough for both of them, it was too much so I stoped and gave them formula.

Leah - posted on 09/22/2009

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When I was building up my milk supply when my baby was first born, the lactation consultant told me to nurse the baby on each side, then pump each side for another 5 minutes, even if no milk came out. After a week or so I was producing PLENTY...

But also--what kind of pump do you have? I have a Medela pump and while I used that I had no problems with supply. But it lost suction, I figured it just crapped out on me. (Turns out one of the membranes cracked, so it was just a matter of replacing the $2 part), but while it wasn't working I borrowed a different pump from my friend--while I was using it my supply really dwindled. But when I fixed my Medela it came right back. So the type of pump may actually make a difference.

Amanda - posted on 09/22/2009

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I took Fenugreek, my milk supply doubled. It is safe for the baby and you can buy it at a Vitamin store. It will make you smell sweet too. Try it, I promise it will work.

Cherelle - posted on 09/22/2009

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I like to suggest that you eat enough calories, drink plenty of water, REST, and pump your breast more...my baby book says 8 - 12 times a day. When my milk supply seems low I try to take a nap. For some reason that works for me.

Michelle - posted on 09/22/2009

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You really need to make sure you are eatting and drinking enough. My mother in law is a lactation consultant and helped me nurse both of my daughters. When you pump you won't produce as much milk as if you were nursing so you really need to do both, if possible. It is a supply and demand so the more you use the more you will produce. I actually have pumped up to 21ounces of milk in one sitting. But, I pump until no more comes out and if baby is hungry afterwards they will still be able to nurse and get milk so don't feel like you are totally drained, there will still be some there.

Babies also typically have a growth spurt at 3 & 6 weeks and months, so this too could be why you feel like you are not producing enough.

Stick w/ it you are doing great to nurse to 3mths is wonderful!

Aileen - posted on 09/22/2009

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I haven't read the other responses, but I will give my advice. I have been breastfeeding my daughter for almost 2 years.

0) NURSE, NURSE, NURSE!!! your baby is the most efficient pump there is. Let him nurse as long as he wants on each side, day in and day out. You are hurting your supply every time you pump. Don't supplement with anything else for him, and don't give him bottles. Just nurse!
1) make sure you are drinking plenty of fluid--water is best! 12 8 oz glasses a day at least.
2) eat oatmeal, drink mother's milk tea, take fenugreek (any or all of those)
3) Has your period come back yet? Most women notice a drop in supply at certain times in their cycle.
4) Is there any chance you might be pregnant? That can also cause a milk supply to dry up.

Lynn - posted on 09/22/2009

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I was told by my doctor to breastfeed. not pump as often as you can. It helps tell your body that you need more milk for baby. we lived with my husbands parents at the time. (we had just moved from another state) and they would never knock before they came in so i would pump and only bf at night. It dropped my supply badly. The doctor told me if i had to lock myself in the bathroom and feed her i needed to do it. I then told my hubby i was tired of doing it and soon after we got our own place. :) but anyway just bf as much as possible and try not to pump unless you really have to.

Krista - posted on 09/22/2009

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I found a tea called Mother's Milk at our local natural/herbal store (I believe it has the Fenugreek in it). It didn't taste very bad (smelled like black licorice) and REALLY helped me get my supply back up. I had gone back to work and was having trouble pumping consistently. After about a week of the tea, my supply was back up and I quit drinking it. I nursed until she was about a year and NEVER had to give her formula!

Good luck! And remember, your milk is the BEST thing for your baby!

[deleted account]

I had the same problem when my daughter was born. I tried a tea made by Traditional Medicines called "Mother's Milk". It worked great! My supply increased with 2 days of drinking it twice a day. Other than that I just kept eating right and getting enough water. our lactation consultant also recommended pumping after baby was finished eating even if you don't get anymore out it helps to encourage more production. Good luck!

Nicole - posted on 09/21/2009

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Fenugreek and oatmeal! I had to work hard to nurse both of my kids for a year. Also I think someone recommended Brewer's Yeast (there is a recipe out there for Lactation Cokoies).

Tracie - posted on 09/21/2009

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Quoting Heather :

Fenugreek!!! It's an herb and Doctors do recommend it. It's safe for you and baby. I works wonders but you may smell like maple syrup:) You can find it with the vitamins.


I would have to totally agree with this one!!!

Joanna - posted on 09/21/2009

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I have a 4 month old and I struggled with supply. Motilium works in the short term (a tablet that is used for upset tummies), I found that expressing all the time on a long term basis was too draining and I was too tired to make milk. I found a supply line was the most useful. A supply line is a really fine tube - you tape one end to your nipple and your baby attaches to both your nipple and the line at the same time. The other end of the line is in a bottle of formula. When your baby has a feed they drain the breast and then continue to suckle but has a top up of formula. It works two fold - your baby has more to drink at each feed which means both you and your baby get enough rest to make milk for the next feed and suckle effectively, and because your baby is at the breast for longer it has the same benefits of expressing.



I started out doing a full breast feed and then attaching the line to the first side, but my little girl wouldn't reattach because she knew it was already empty. I ended up using the supply line on both sides of a feed, at every feed of the day.



My child health nurse recommended only using it for one week, along with trying fenugreek or motilium. She said that if my supply didn't increase in that timeframe it probably wasn't going to. And also the more tired I was getting, the less milk I was producing.



Just remember that breastfeeding is only best for your baby if they are getting enough. I ended up having to make the extremely hard decision to stop. My little girl was hungry and not putting on weigh and she wasn't happy. I had to do what was best for her and that was to give her milk - even if it meant I had to give her formula.

Sudipta - posted on 09/21/2009

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I fed my baby breast milk for 1 year, she never latched well so I pumped, I use to drink a lot of fluid and pump every 2 hrs, for 1st 4 months, and use to pump for morethan 30 mins, it helped me to increase my milk supply....

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