Whether you are pumping around your work schedule or pumping exclusively there may be times when you find your milk supply is lower and you may have difficulty getting enough milk for your baby. The first thing to consider is that you need to be sure that your supply really is low. There can be many situations in which it may seem like your supply is low when in fact the issue is something entirely different. These include, but are not limited to, your baby being fussy or your breasts don’t get engorged or leak as often as they used to or at all. These are all things that happen in the natural course of the breast milk relationship and are generally not a cause for concern.
If you can, add another pumping session to your day so that you are able to get that increased stimulation. Try this for at least a week and you will probably get enough milk to feed your baby while you are gone. It is also a good idea to massage your breasts while pumping (unless of course you are using a double pump) or applying a warm compress to your breasts just prior to pumping. If you are using a double pump, it will be to your advantage whenever possible to try to pump your way to a second let-down.
Self-care is key to having a strong milk supply. This means getting enough exercise and rest, eating properly, drinking lots of fluids, and having down time. Superwoman does not exist, so don’t expect to be able to keep up with the housework bills and shopping, work your out-of-the-house job, spend time with your baby and your family, and still have enough time left over to care for yourself. You come first, otherwise not only you will suffer, everyone else in your house will feel it too. If you are too overtired, you will not have milk. If you don’t drink enough fluids you won’t have the water your body needs to produce milk. Proper nutrition is crucial to giving you what you need to stay healthy and have energy. Eat a lot of raw foods including fruits, vegetables, and nuts (there are wonderful raw recipes available). Exercise is crucial to maintaining a healthy body and energy level and this is something you can do with your baby. Get out and walk, take a mom and baby exercise class or go swimming together. There are a lot of options.
Nature will always see to our needs and provides other ways for us to increase our milk supply through the use of herbal remedies. The most effective herb for increasing your milk supply is Fenugreek. Other effective herbal remedies include Alfalfa, Blessed Thistle, Brewers Yeast, oats, barley water, and Red Raspberry. These remedies can be obtained at any health food store or naturopathic pharmacy and often come in capsules or tablets, or can be made into a nice, hot cup of tea, which may also serve the purpose of relaxing you, allowing your body to distress and make milk.
If you have tried everything you can to increase your milk supply and it is not working, remember you have not failed. Every drop of breast milk your baby gets is beneficial. If you need to supplement with formula that is fine. There is also the option of purchasing breast milk from a breast milk bank. It may not be your milk, but it is human milk.
Having a strong milk supply is sometimes a challenge, especially for the working mother. While there are many ways to increase your milk supply, remember that the best thing you can do for your supply is to feed your baby as often as possible and take care of yourself. The pile of laundry on the bed in the spare bedroom is not going anywhere. When it comes down to it a good milk supply for your baby is a fair trade for having your other family members fishing for socks in the pile of laundry or, better yet, sorting and folding the laundry themselves. Your primary concern is for you and your baby.
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