written by Amanda Chik
My name is Amanda. I am a working mom of twin boys, who are now almost 5 years old. I am also the Social Media Manager at Stork and Dove. Many of you may know of our award-winning lactation cookies, Boobyboons.
A little about my breastfeeding journey. When I first got pregnant, I always had the thought that I would breastfeed. When I found out that I was pregnant with twins, I knew that that might not be possible. My twins were born at 36 weeks and were very tiny. The NICU doctors said they needed to gain weight and so they needed to be on formula. As soon as I heard that, my heart sank a little. The doctors said if I could pump, I could add whatever breastmilk I could to supple their bottles. And so, I started my pumping journey and I looked up all the ways under the sun that I might be able to increase my supply.
Below are some of the ways that I found were helpful for me when trying to boost my milk supply. I should also preface that I am not a lactation consultant or a nurse. The things that worked for me might not work for you. Please always consult a doctor or lactation consultant for further advice/assistance.
1. Staying hydrated + galactagogues
As busy as it can be caring for a newborn (nevermind two!)
As busy as it can be caring for a newborn (nevermind two!), I learnt to always keep a snack and some water nearby. Let me just say that nursing hunger is very real. Your body needs energy to produce milk. Being hungry and thirsty can contribute to low milk supply. I also found that eating a well-balanced diet along with foods that are galactagogues were helpful. For those of you who don’t know, a galactagogue is a substance that promotes lactation. Some examples of galactagogues are almonds, barley, oats, nutritional yeast, flaxmeal. This is how I actually came across Booyboons. I had found a whole bunch of recipes online on how to bake my own lactation cookies but really, I had my hands full and really did not have the time nor patience for that. Boobyboons lactation cookies contains all-natural, no preservative, gluten-free ingredients that indeed worked for me, alongside drinking Mother’s Milk tea.
2. Nursing on demand + offering both sides
Milk production is based on supply and demand. Unlike the economic definition where there’s an equilibrium, milk supply chases demand up the curve! The more your baby nurses, the more milk you’ll produce. Also, don’t forget to offer both sides of your breasts. This will stimulate more milk production. And if you are pumping like I was, the best is to pump consistently. Because I was not able to have my babies on my breast, I pumped every 3 hours and on both sides.
3. Power pump
Power pumping is a great way to boost milk supply because it mimics cluster feeding. By emptying the breast, it signals to your body that it needs to produce more milk. The procedure goes:
- Pump for 20 minutes;
- Break for 10 minutes;
- Pump for 10 minutes;
- Break for 10 minutes;
- Pump for 10 minutes;
It may take a couple days or longer to see results, and it all depends on your body. I power pumped for 5 days (in the morning) before I saw an increase in my milk supply.
4. Massaging breast/catching letdown
When trying to increase my milk supply, I found that massaging before a pumping session would help get the milk going. I also benefited from using a Haakkaa. If you don’t know what a Haakkaa is, it is a silicon pump that collects letdown milk on the OTHER breast while you are nursing/pumping on one. This is one product that I highly recommend for any breastfeeding mama. For me, I managed to store so much “extra” milk and ensured that none of it went to waste.
5. Consult a lactation consultant
Mamas, trust me when I say, “it is OKAY to ask for help.”
As a new mom I really had no idea what I was doing. I did a whole bunch of research and took classes prior to giving birth, however I still felt lost when it came to breastfeeding. A lactation consultant is truly the best option to help you when you feel like you have low milk supply. They can make sure that your baby is latching well, give you tips and advice on different nursing positions, and if you are simply pumping like how I was, when to replace/change the parts on your pump. Because seriously, did you know you are supposed to change the parts? I really did not!
I pumped to supplement the boys’ bottle for 8 months before I felt it was too much and stopped for my mental health. Ultimately, do your research – and mentally prepare yourself. Breastfeeding is hard and things may not always work out the way you want. Remember that it is ok to ask for help. You are not alone in this. Breastfeeding is not for everyone and that is ok. In the end, remember that fed and supported is best.
Do what is best for your baby and for you. You matter, mama.