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New Mom Breastfeeding Tips: What to Eat to Increase Milk Supply

by Arielle J on July 10, 2017

The first few days after I got home from the hospital were a whirlwind. Not only did I need to figure out everything that comes along with having a baby – the swaddling, the soothing, the sleeping – I also needed to learn how to get my milk supply in and how to breastfeed properly. So below I’m sharing what helped me transition to nursing life and mommy hood in hopes that it can help you, too.

My story
I was released from my birthing center just 24 hours after I gave birth. Since we were released very quickly, the hospital required that I bring Gemma to the pediatrician the next day. 
At the appointment, our Pediatrician warned us that if Gemma didn’t gain weight and her bilirubin levels didn’t decrease by the following day, we would need to feed her formula. 

The pressure was on! I left the office and literally went on a breastfeeding/pumping marathon. 

Here’s what I did to help my milk supply to come in:

  • Breastfeed, then pump. I breastfed Gemma every 2-3 hours and pumped after every session. I had heard that pumping helps to increase milk production while the milk is still coming in, so I had my husband run out and rent a double electric hospital grade Medela pump at Babies R Us. I stored the pumped milk  in these BPA-free bags. (Later on, I also got a manual pump. It’s definitely not as powerful as the electric ones, and you need to use your hands which can become tiring, but it’s less than $30, portable to take with you on the go and super convenient)
  • Heat, heat, heat. I put these heating pads on my breasts before and after every nursing session. The heat felt so soothing and it helped the milk to flow. 
  • Massage. I massaged my breasts during every pumping session and whenever I was in the shower. Down and towards the nipple helps the milk ducts. Make sure to get the top of the breast, the sides and the bottom.
  • Nurture your nipples. I lathered nipple butter on my nipples before and after every nursing session (and pumping session) to help soothe my nipples.
  • Chillax! I let my baby nurse, parents, in-laws, friends and husband change as many diapers as they could and wanted! I tried to chillax as much as possible to conserve my energy. 
  • Sleep! The first few days after giving birth, I was on quite a high. I tried to rest as much as possible and always slept with an eye mask and blackout shades. The more energy you have and sleep you get, the easier it is for your body to recover efficiently and produce milk. 

Here is what I ate and drank to support my milk supply:

  • Water. I drank a ton of water – usually a glass of 8oz of water every time I breastfed. Keeping a huge glass or water bottle next to me at all times was super helpful. The first few days after I came home, I was still using the container I got at the hospital.
  • Beer. My acupuncturist (who usually preaches gluten-free everything) swears that even a half of Guinness can help with milk production. I happen to love Guinness so I took her advice happily. After about 1/4 of the bottle, I felt tipsy so I used the rest of the bottle, poured it in a glass and added some coconut milk ice cream for a healthified treat – a Guinness Float. It was so YUM!
  • Tea. I chugged mother’s milk tea. I would make myself a huge batch of it to save me time and energy. Heres how: boil water in a pot, place a few tea bags in and voila! Either add ice and put in a pitcher, or drink warm in a mug.
  • Broth. I drank warm bone broth. You can make your own with this recipe or buy it frozen from here and have it shipped to your doorstep! Use code: BEWELLWITHARIELLE for $10 off at brothmasters.com). I drank it every morning with eggs, and sipped on it during the day, too. Warming broth helps digestion and the milk flow, too.
  • Protein…and fat. I ate protein and fat every two hours.
    • For breakfast, I drank bone broth with 2 eggs.
    • For snack, I munched on home-made trail mix made of raw almonds, coconut flakes and gluten-free pretzels. Oh, and some gluten free chocolate chip cookies, too:)
    • For dinner, I craved thai food so I would typically order shrimp with veggies and brown rice from this organic place in NYC called Thai Villa.
    • Supplements. I took placenta pills (I had Carol, a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist make them for me) and I also continued taking these supplements. 

What foods I avoided:

    • dairy
    • soy
    • artificial sweeteners, including any sugars that give me an aftertaste – stevia and monk fruit.
    • gluten, when possible
    • cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts (that tend to make me gassy)
    • peanuts

A  few side notes on pumping and breastfeeding:

Yes, it’s challenging. Yes, my nipples hurt A LOT and whipping out my breasts every 2 hours isn’t the most fun. But, it’s a beautiful experience and incredible that I’m able to feed a human being from my own bodily fluids! So I focused on that whenever the challenges came up.

My take on formula.  I hate having regrets in life, so I wanted to do everything I could to give her breastmilk and to breastfeed. If it didn’t work out for some reason or another, I would totally be ok giving giving her formula. In fact, I have a container of this formula tucked away in the closet in case we need it and I brought it with me in my hospital bag before giving birth. There are also milk banks that a few of my friends use and love so I felt at ease with my options. 

I chose to make the breastfeeding process as enjoyable as possible. I was never fixated on how many ounces Gemma was getting. I didn’t obsess over how many ounces I was pumping out, either. I didn’t weigh her at home, either. To keep my sanity, I focused on getting my milk in and doing my best to produce the most nourishing milk possible for her. I also made sure not to compare myself to other moms who had successful experiences breastfeeding or pumping and who didn’t.

Breastfeeding Now:

Gemma just turned 4 months and I have continued to exclusively give her breastmilk. I breastfeed her every 3-4 hours on demand and pump once a night before I go to bed. My husband or my parents give her a bottle with my breastmilk typically 1-2 times per week.

I am very grateful that I have been able to produce enough milk, that she has taken to my breasts (and occasional bottles) and that I have been able to enjoy the experience.

Lately it’s been pretty tough figuring out how to manage and balance working and exclusively breastfeeding, but that’s a challenge that I look forward to exploring in the next few weeks and months!

Get support:

Many of my friends have had challenges increasing their milk supply, getting their baby to latch and finding joy in breastfeeding, so I’m so excited to join my dear friend and renowned women’s health expert, Aimee Raupp AND my labor doula to help you navigate this crazy time with ease and grace.

Join us on Wednesday, July 12th at 8pm EDT on this free webinar.

Join the call and hear from:

      • Aimee Raupp: my acupuncturist (and the woman who helped get me pregnant!)
      • Rachel Meakins: my amazing birth doula who assisted me in my 40-hour (all natural) labor
      • Caroline Leventhal: my fellow mommy friend who has exp

You will learn:

      • the most nutrient dense foods to support milk supply, heal your postpartum body and avoid postpartum depression
      • techniques for latching
      • tips for breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Call details:
When: Wednesday, July 12 at 8pm
What: Join us as we discuss how to overcome the challenges of breastfeeding, as well as the most nutrient dense foods to support milk supply, techniques for latching and tips for breastfeeding.
How: Sign up here.

I am excited to share my experience with you and tips to make it as easy and enjoyable for you. If you can’t make it to the LIVE event, we will send you the webinar replay after the event has ended.

Reserve your spot for this free webinar today!

Remember – we all have our own stories. Be easy on yourself. Lots of positive vibes to you and your baby (and your future babies!)

be positive. be nurturing. be you.

xo

be well,
arielle

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