While it seems counterintuitive, the emptier your breasts are, the faster they make milk. A full bread has no place to store or hold the milk, so milk production slows to prevent plugged ducts and breast discomfort. Cluster feeding on an emptier breast actually tells the body to make more milk at a faster rate!! Some incorrectly assume you have to wait for the breast to “fill up” before feeding your baby or for pumping while at work. This will eventually lead to less milk, as a fuller breast tells your body baby isn’t eating very often and to slow milk production. The more frequent you empty the breast, the higher the fat content in that milk and the faster milk is made. The longer often you wait and the fuller the breast, the higher the water content in that milk and the slower your body will make milk overall.
W atch the baby, not the clock. Breasts may feel really full between feedings in the first few weeks after birth, but they’re also not supposed to stay engorged. There will come a time when they stay soft and don’t feel full between feedings or pumping, so waiting for that as a cue to feed will also sabotage your supply. Don’t be alarmed when your breasts no longer feel full between feeding. You’re entering a new stage where you’ll still make plenty of milk for your baby as long as you’re routinely emptying that milk. Trust your body. Trust your baby.
For the first six months after birth, baby is supposed to be on an exclusive breast milk diet. At six months and beyond your breast milk goes through a major change. The volume of milk slowly drops because baby is eating and drinking other foods. They may also be sleeping longer at night and are more active during the day. Your milk is super smart and shifts with this drop to have more antibodies and a higher fat content. The breast makes milk based on how it is emptied and what your hormones are doing based on how old baby is. Your hormones are also shifting and you may start your monthly cycle again. Many experience a further dip in supply around the time with their period. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you may notice baby pulling or tugging on your nipple or using their hands to beat your chest while feeding. If you’re pumping, you may slowly start to see less milk each pump session. Usually months 5-7 are the hardest from a baby behavior perspective and it settles out again as baby eats more table food and your hormones adjust. If breastfeeding is your goal, just keep offering the breast and pumping often.
The best way to lose weight is to be in a calorie deficit. Choosing the right foods, protein, fruits and vegetables with moderation of carbs, sugars and starches is guaranteed for most to lose extra pounds. Sure, exercise helps. It helps burn calories, again contributing to calorie deficit. But exercise alone won’t help you lose weight if you’re still eating a high calorie diet. Sure, going vegetarian or vegan or doing Weight Watchers or Atkins or any other “diet” helps. It helps you monitor intake to be in a calorie deficit. But even on any diet plan, if you’re not following it correctly and still eating high amounts of foods you won’t lose weight. Certain people do better on certain diets or with specific exercise programs because of how their specific body handles and processes food, vitamins, stress, movement, and all of the other factors like environment and genetics. Finding a nutritionist, weight loss coach, or personal trainer helps you look at your specific body and goals and helps you reach them. You can absolutely get there in your own, having someone counsel you through often gets you quicker results from their experience and wisdom. But the principle remains: calorie deficit is the number one way to lose weight.
The best way to make breast milk is to empty breast milk. Whether that’s your baby or a high quality breast pump, moving milk multiple times a day tells the body to make more milk. The more often milk is removed, the faster it is made. Sure, supplements help. They support your thyroid and blood with the extra nutrients and hormones needed to produce milk. But supplements alone is no replacement for moving milk. You can take the best lactation bars and drink all the tea you want, but without emptying the breast every few hours routinely I wouldn’t expect the majority of us to make enough milk to feed baby. Sure, hydration and nutrition are important. It takes calories to make calories and hydration help with that process. But even the research shows women who are malnourished in famine torn countries make plenty of milk for their babies when baby is allowed unrestricted access to the breast. Yes, adding in chia seed, flax seed, oats, nuts and nut butters, and coconut water helps make milk. Certain people do better on certain herbs and foods because of how their specific body handles and processes food, vitamins, stress, hormones, and all of the other factors like anatomy and genetics. Finding a lactation consultant, peer counselor, or trained doula helps you look at your specific body and goals and helps you reach them. You can absolutely get there in your own, having someone counsel you through often gets you quicker results from their experience and wisdom. But the principle remains: emptying milk from the breast is the number one way to make breast milk.
CLUSTER FEEDING. Two words when paired together that drive fear and trembling to parents. Cluster feeding is NORMAL for ALL breastfed babies. It has nothing to do with your supply. It has nothing to do with the clock. It has nothing to do with what you’re eating or drinking or those supplements you just took. It may not even have anything to even do with being hungry. Babies typically cluster feed in the afternoon/evening. When your milk supply naturally and appropriately dips. When your milk is a smaller water concentration with a higher fat content. As long as baby is happy to feed the rest of the day, is making plenty of wet and dirty diapers, is content and sleeping routinely between feedings, and gaining weight over time, DON’T BLAME THE BOOB!! Even if baby seems like they want to feed constantly. Cluster feeding is normal. It typically happens MORE when baby is going through a growth spurt (body growing), developmental leap (mind/skills growing), or teething/illness. Why does baby want the breast more?
• Preparing for a longer sleep: Some babies just prefer to fill up on milk for a few hours before a longer sleep.
• Milk flow is slower at night: Some babies nurse longer to fill up due to the slower flow.
• A growth spurt: they usually occur around 3, 6, and 8weeks of age.
• They need of comfort. Breast milk has hormones to develop baby’s circadian rhythm. At nighttime baby may just seek comfort to help them sleep.
• Developmental leap: Mental and emotional growth spurts when they acquire new skills.
• Baby is sick, thirsty, or teething: breast feeding is a pain reliever, medicine and hydration all in one
Know that it’s normal. Be patient through the process. Be prepared with snacks and water for yourself, a comfy spot, a good pillow for support and the remote and your phone charger close by to get you through. You’re not alone and it doesn’t last forever!!
Cabbage is not just for Cole slaw. Did you know that cabbage leaves have been used for decades to help reduce breast engorgement? A handful of studies have shown that placing a chilled green cabbage leaf against the breast has been effective to reduce breast swelling and pain. It is suspected that the compounds found in the plant leaves have strong anti-inflammatory properties that help improve blood flow, decrease swelling, and allow milk to flow more freely.
Using Cabbage Leaves for Engorgement:
✏️Chill the cabbage, green cabbages are best
✏️Wash off one or two inner leaves, be mindful to remove any dirt, pesticides or residue
✏️Gently pat dry with a towel
✏️Crush the center stem for maximum potency
✏️Wrap a leaf around the affected area of the breast, exposing the nipple when possible.
✏️Use a bra or lose wrap to hold the leaves in place
✏️Leave for 20 minutes
✏️Discard the leaves
✏️Cautions:20 minutes seems to be for most the right amount of time
✏️Repeat no more than 1-2 times a day for engorgement, as cabbage leaves used more often can actually decrease milk supply!
✏️This process is also used for weaning breast milk, such as when quick weaning is needed or when mothers are done breastfeeding.
An average cup of coffee can contain 95mg of caffeine, but some can contain as much as 500! Which is important to know when breastfeeding as generally considered safe to drink up to 300 mg per day— about 2–3 cups of coffee or 3–4 cups of tea.
The caffeine content of coffee depends on many factors, such as:
• Type of coffee beans: different varieties of coffee beans naturally contain different amounts of caffeine.
• Roasting: Lighter roasts have more caffeine than darker roasts.
• Type of coffee: caffeine content can vary significantly between regularly brewed coffee, espresso, instant coffee and decaf coffee.
• Serving size: “One cup of coffee” can range anywhere from 30–700 ml (1–24 oz), greatly affecting the total caffeine content.
• One cup of brewed coffee (8 oz) contains about 70–140 mg of caffeine, or about 95 mg on average
• One shot of espresso is generally about 30–50 ml (1–1.75 oz), and contains about 63 mg of caffeine
• Instant coffee usually contains less caffeine than regular coffee, with one cup containing roughly 30–90 mg
• Decaf has about 0–7 mg per cup, with the average cup containing 3 mg
Want to enjoy a coffee alternative that gives all the feels while still being breastfeeding supportive? My two breastfeeding friendly favorites are @wearerasa and @milkstabrew.
Lecithin is used in food to provide a smooth, moist texture and to keep ingredients from separating. Lecithin can naturally be found in green vegetables, red meat, and eggs. Commercial preparations are often made from soybeans, egg yolks, or animal products. It is also commonly used in eye drops, skin moisturizers, and food emulsifiers (agents that keep ingredients from separating).
Sunflower lethicin, a specific kind of lethicin, is often taken during breastfeeding to reduce plugged ducts or to help increase milk flow. Sunflower lethicin is thought to reduce the “stickiness” of breast milk by thinning out the fats in the milk and keeping them from clumping together. There are no known contraindications for breast-feeding, and lecithin is “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA. However, people with a preexisting tendency to depression may become depressed if taking high doses of lecithin. While very rare, if you begin to have a fish-like odor while taking high doses of lethicin, stop taking it immediately and notify your physician, as this is a serious sign of liver damage. As there is no recommended daily allowance for lecithin, there is no established dosing for lecithin supplements. Different brands might have different amounts of lecithin in each pill or capsule, so be sure to read labels very carefully before taking lecithin or any other dietary supplement. Per Kellymom.com, the maximum dosage recommended for recurrent plugged ducts is 4,800mg/day. As always, consult with your doctor before trying any dietary supplements while pregnant or breast-feeding.
If you broke your foot you wouldn’t go to your local nail salon to have your pedicurist look at it. Yes, they work with feet. I just wouldn’t trust their expert opinion on whether I need a cast or some physical therapy. If my car engine was making smoke and my gauges were outside the appropriate ranges, you wouldn’t go to the car wash to have it looked at. Yes, they work with cars. I just wouldn’t trust their expert opinion on whether my engine block is cracked or not. So why when we’re having lactation problems do we turn to mom groups or even pediatricians? Yes, moms have babies. Yes, pediatricians work with babies. But neither are the experts in lactation (ok, occasionally a pediatrician will seek additional training, but honestly it’s rare). To become a board certified lactation consultant, you need to take advanced college level coursework specifically in human lactation. You need to spend hundreds to thousands of hours being directly mentored by someone who already is board certified. And you have to pass a FOUR HOUR board exam. To be board certified. IBCLCs spend thousands of dollars and years of their lives training to become experts in breasts, babies, and feeding. If you’re struggling, please find the correct help. There’s a lot of bad information out there that may inadvertently sabotage your breastfeeding journey without you even being aware.
Ways to naturally boost milk supply without taking any herbs or supplements:
⌛️Empty the breast more often. The more you empty to either baby or pump the more you’ll make!
🕰Feed on demand and not by the clock.
🤱🏽Keep baby in skin to skin contact with you, even as an older baby. This contact has a hormone reaction to naturally increase supply at any age.
💦Drink more water (at least 10-12 glasses per day)
🥗Eat between 2100-2500 calories per day of high quality protein, low in sugar and processed foods
🍷Drink alcohol and caffeine in moderation, and make sure to drink extra water if you do a both dehydrate and can decrease milk supply
🍆Have sex! The same hormone released during orgasm causes milk to be released for let down. Having sex naturally raises the level of this hormone in your body for 24 hours, making it easier to let down milk the next day!
🏝Relax and have a calm routine during pumping. Stress and distraction can inhibit milk let down for some even when there’s plenty of milk in the breast.
🎧Listen to music and place heat on your breasts while pumping. Several research studies have found by doing these things moms can pump up to 30% more milk!
📏Make sure you’re pumping with the correct flange size.
🛌When possible, avoid sleep training. Letting baby wake at night helps keep your milk supply naturally high as milk making hormones are highest at night.
💊Be careful you’re not taking any medications that drop supply like hormonal birth control, antihistamines and antibiotics.