Getting Real with Kira Hazledine
I’ve talked to many moms asking if I have tips or tricks for keeping up a good supply of breastmilk. Unfortunately, I have very little to offer. I had an oversupply, which is the opposite problem. I know that some have really struggled to produce enough for their babies, and it’s a source of emotional and physical strain. Women end up throwing money at every product claiming to increase lactation, but honestly, the research behind them is shaky at the very least.
The truth? Move milk to make milk.
Anything else is not scientifically proven to actually increase breastmilk production. Fenugreek can be very harmful, and lactation cookies are just expensive! Teas, oatmeal, vitamins, and a million other things are advertised as helpful to moms desperate to feed their babies, and I hate to say that most of it is a sham.
So, the only answer I have ever been able to give, is that to increase supply you must increase demand. It’s basic marketing, but not always easy.
For some women, this involves both nursing and pumping around the clock to boost supply. The baby latched at the breast is most effective, but a pump can stimulate milk production too. I’ve known women who wake up at 3am to pump because baby sleeps through the night in the early months. I’ve known women that pump around the clock to get what they need, constantly attached to either a baby or a pump.
The problem is, the information is just not out there. All you hear are advertisements for how to improve milk supply, but what you don’t hear is the reality. The reality is, many women do struggle to produce enough milk for the babies, and it’s not even their fault. Nothing they can do. No amount of Gatorade or water is going to increase your milk supply. Do you know why they tell you to drink a lot of water? Because baby will take from you before your body meets its own needs. YOU will be dehydrated, not baby.
Another truth? Average output for a single 20-minute pumping session (for both breasts) is .5 to 2 ounces.
When your baby is sucking down 4 ounces in a feeding, that can be really disheartening.
Pumping over 20 minutes at a time can be harmful and cause emotional stress, because you’re attached to a milking machine for who knows how long.
Don’t believe the hype. There is nothing wrong with you. If you’re not producing enough, a good lactation consultant will tell you to encourage breastfeeding All. The Time. And nothing more. Because nothing else is proven to help.
I wish there was more I could say to moms who are struggling, other than you’re doing awesome for doing your best. I was very lucky to have an oversupply, getting 10 ounces of milk per 15-minute sessions. Also, my baby never EVER slept through the night. I breastfeed around the clock up until my daughter was about 18 months old. The demand was definitely there for me, and it showed.
Breastfeeding is never easy but know this: You are enough. You are everything your baby needs, even if you don’t produce enough milk. You have more than enough love and devotion, that a little less milk and a little more formula will make up for. If you have questions, feel free to message me. Breastfeeding is hard, and with World Breastfeeding Week approaching, it’s an appropriate time to get basic information out there.