Photo Credit: Ina Reed Photography
There is NO “magic” food or drink that will increase your supply. Your breasts make milk based on supply and demand-the more milk removed, the more you make. Most mothers can and should trust breastfeeding and watch for the cues that baby is getting enough (for more information see this post). That said, there are mothers that struggle from hormonal issues, PCOS, diabetes, Insufficient Glandular Tissue, and some other issues that can cause low milk supply. If after you have read the post linked and baby is not gaining weight sufficiently and/or isn’t having 6-8 wet diapers and 3 poopy diapers each day (24 hours) in the first 6 weeks (may have less poopy diapers after 6 weeks possibly) this would be a good time to:
- Call an IBCLC and have a thorough assessment of baby’s anatomy and your breasts. Issues can be ruled out and pre-feeding and post-feeding weights can be taken to get a glimpse of how much milk your baby is taking at that particular feeding. This is just a glimpse and shouldn’t be used to determine absolutely how much milk your baby is removing from your breasts over a full day. An IBCLC can also check on any possible positioning issues that may be going on-I’ve found with many of my clients very tiny changes can make a huge difference!
- Pick up Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk before making any decisions about any extra foods/supplements to take.
- You may also want to contact your doctor to have prolactin levels checked through some blood work.
- Finding a cause of the issue is more preferable option because if you’re treating the symptoms rather than the cause you’re just putting a bandage on the problem.
A wise lactation consultant (Christy Jo Hendricks at the GOLD 2016 Lactation Conference) shared a story that really stuck in my mind that I will relay to you now. We all have that one pair of shoes in our closet. You know the ones I’m talking about-those ADORABLE pumps that you had to have. They were a little more than we usually pay for shoes but they were just cute and you had to have them. You got them home and tried them out for a date or an evening out. OUCH! Those adorable pumps aren’t as comfy as you thought there were in the store. You get home that night and find a blister. They’re so cute though and a little expensive so you put a bandage on and wear them again the next day to work. You realize they’re a little too small and they really just don’t feel great on. Every time you wear them you know you need to wear a bandage.
Ultimately, the problem is the fit of the shoes. Instead of tossing them out and getting a different pair you put a bandage on and keep going though. Galactagogues work much the same often.
Some mothers do find that certain foods or drinks have boosted their supply. Some of these work because they’re acting on some type of discrepancy or some mechanism in your body that may need a little extra boost or they’re just helping mama limp along a little (like a bandage). These are all very individual-Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk AND working with a knowledgeable IBCLC can help you figure out the possible problem together. Taking the wrong supplement can actually reduce your supply or cause some serious medical issues (remember that herbs are medicines and just like taking the wrong prescription they can cause some major problems or possibly interfere with medications you are already taking).
A few “lactation boosters” that I have seen throw out a lot online:
- Blue Gatorade (MUST be blue for some reason)-my guess is that this helps if mom is slightly dehydrated or has imbalanced electrolytes. Oddly enough, I had issues as a child with “fainting spells” and a neurologist said I had issues keeping my electrolytes balanced. I wonder if this is somewhat common and this is why it may work for some women, especially a new mom that isn’t able to take as good of care of herself as women in other cultures with laying in periods and lots of help from friends and family from their village. Other options you could try are coconut water or homemade “laborade” drinks that have less sugar and less sodium.
- Lactation cookies/bars/smoothies-these often contain oatmeal, flax seed, and can even have some nuts, brewer’s yeast, and fenugreek (from imitation maple syrup). Some of these ingredients work on the digestive system or just give a calorie boost. They are often high in sugar though and can really upset a mom’s system with pre-diabetes (many mothers don’t know that they’re pre-diabetic). Fenugreek also is known to interfere with some medications as well as cause issues with blood sugar. If you want to eat a cookie-eat a cookie! It probably isn’t a good idea for many mothers to eat the 3+ cookies each and every day that many cookie makers recommend. Instead, try eating oatmeal in the morning or try some of the other digestive system aids mentioned in Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk.
- Lactation Teas-often contain some or all of the following: fenugreek, marshmallow root, nettle leaf, alfalfa leaf, fennel seed, red raspberry leaf, milk thistle, anise seed, or others. Most of these are considered safe for breastfeeding depending on the source (it’s a good idea to use trusted brands if you chose to use herbal supplements or teas) according to Nursing Mother’s Herbal. Many of these aren’t in sufficient quantities to really make a difference though or some are contraindicated long term (more than a few weeks)
Some of these may give you a little boost to help you get through a growth spurt along with nursing frequently and following baby’s cues. They may also help if you need a little extra boost on occasion when you’re pumping if you notice a little supply dip. They aren’t necessary though, and are just an extra expense that most mother’s can avoid. Ultimately though, the best way to increase milk supply is to remove milk more frequently. If you want to eat a cookie or drink a smoothie go for it! It’s probably not a good idea to have some of these every day without finding a cause for low supply though. If you genuinely have low supply issues, working with an IBCLC is the first and best thing to do. If you don’t find the answers you’re seeking, just like with a doctor or other professional you can always seek out a second opinion.
What “lactation boosters” have you heard about or tried?
Tuesday, December 13th: 7-9 PM at Cardon Family Chiropractic in Mustang
and TWO FREE mother-to-mother breastfeeding support group meetings:
Friday, December 7th at 6:30 PM. This is a meeting for mothers and children not comfortable being away from mom (nursing children are always welcome). Fathers are also welcome at our evening meetings. Please bring some toys for your older children to be entertained.
Friday, December 16th at 3:30 PM. This is a meeting for mothers and children not comfortable being away from mom (nursing children are always welcome). Please bring some toys for your older children to be entertained.
Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
Photo credit: Niki Miller
It’s been publicized that the practice of attaching a car seat to a cart is not considered safe but when I go to a grocery store in Oklahoma City I usually find at least one baby in their car seat “snapped” in to the cart. I would like to remind any parent reading this that if they are doing this currently to stop right away but don’t feel bad or guilty for doing this. Many parents have “snapped” their car seat to their cart (myself included!) before knowing the dangers. When we know better we do better!
So why is it dangerous? Car seats were not designed to sit on carts. All carts are differently shaped. Even if the seat will “snap” on to the cart this practice is dangerous because it may break the part that clicks in to the base in your car which will render the seat ineffective in an accident. Putting a car seat on a cart in this manner also makes the cart top heavy. A small shift of weight by baby or even a shift of the cart can make the whole cart tip or the baby and seat to tip off of the cart which can seriously injure baby. Another cart flaw can cause baby to fall through a cart and become severely injured as shown in this video.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Injuries associated with shopping carts are an important cause of pediatric morbidity, especially among children younger than 5 years. An estimated 24200 children younger than 15 years, 20700 (85%) of whom were younger than 5 years, were treated in US hospital emergency departments in 2005 for shopping cart–related injuries.
Among their recommendations to prevent accidents (including education for parents and possible redesigning of shopping carts) they state:
Providing adult caregivers with alternatives to placing a child in a cart while they shop can effectively prevent shopping cart–related injuries. Some stores provide supervised play areas for children. Parents may be able to arrange for another adult to accompany them and watch the child during a shopping trip. Other parents may be able to transport a young child in a stroller, wagon, frontpack, or backpack. An older child can be asked to walk. Some parents may be able to leave their child at home with an adult while they shop, but this is not an option for many others. Some stores offer shopping via the Internet with or without home delivery.
Photo Credit: Carissa Traut
Many carts now also include warnings to not put an infant in an infant seat on the cart. Even if the cart includes a rest for a car seat it still isn’t recommended to do this because it can cause the cart to be too top heavy and tip or the seat to tip out, especially if a parent forgets to buckle the seat in to the cradle.
Car seat manufacturers also caution against this use of car seats. It’s in your manual. If you don’t read other instruction manuals do read your car seat manual! Your baby’s life could depend on it since a car seat is a potential life saving device in a car accident. Read the manual!
Photo credit: Kissably Close, Aimee Park
I suggest that parents have a soft baby carrier that they can put baby in while grocery shopping if there isn’t a built in infant seat in the car seat (but again, these can cause the cart to become top heavy so use with extreme caution and always buckle baby in!). For more information on types of carriers and carriers that are good for different stages please check back to earlier blog posts. When baby is old enough to sit alone it’s safe to put baby in the toddler portion of the cart (about 6-8 months). Until then, consider wearing your baby at the store.
Photo Credit: Carissa Traut
For more information please see:
- Shopping Cart–Related Injuries to Children, . Found online at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/118/2/e540 (also see mentioned AAP statements linked at bottom of this article)
- The Car Seat Lady
- Car Seat Blog
What is your favorite carrier to use while at the store?
Don’t forget to set your clocks back tonight before you go to bed!
This post continues the ages and stages babywearing series. If you would like to learn more about newborn babywearing or wearing an infant until they’re able to sit up on their own check out my earlier posts.
The spread squat position is still very important at this stage. Be sure to read more about this in my newborn babywearing post. When baby is in the carrier you are looking for this position (notice the curved spine and the knees higher than the bum (capital M position).
Carriers that are great to use at this stage:
- A ring sling for shorter periods of time. You may begin considering a wrap convert ring sling if this is your favorite carrier and you want to wear for longer spurts because the heavier weave helps distribute weight better.
- Woven Wraps
- Gauze or Hybrid wraps may become a little less comfortable as your child grows.
- No stretchy wraps-they will not support the spread squat positioning at this point.
- Mei tais start becoming a great option at this stage!
- Soft Structure Carriers are also a great option for quick up and downs.
As babies grow and become older they will begin to like quicker up and downs (especially as they begin to walk). Babies will also grow heavier but if you’re used to wearing your muscles will grow along with baby. There’s no need to restrict wearing based on your child’s size/weight unless you have a medical condition to consider.
You may also begin to be interested in back wearing. Back carries can help you wear for a longer period of time more comfortably as your child grows but remember that babies like to snuggle too and knowing how to nurse in a carrier is a good skill (not every mom is able to nurse in a carrier but if you can practice in several different carriers most mothers can find a way to comfortably nurse while wearing). You may spend more time out of the house and at this point you may almost mourn if you have forgotten your carrier at home. It’s a good idea to have an inexpensive back up carrier in your car or diaper bag or keep a carrier in your car all the time so your arms and back don’t ache when you’re out and forgot the carrier.
Back carries can also help baby interact a little more with their world. When baby can see over your shoulder they can see and experience what you see but also be able to snuggle in when they become overwhelmed or shy.
At this stage you may experience a baby that wants to nurse and then doesn’t fall alseep nursing any longer. Wearing your baby down may be a very lovely skill to have in your toolbox of parenting tricks. With practice you can wear your baby and take a walk around your house or neighborhood (make sure to have a flashlight and stay safe at night!) or just snuggle and rock. The tightness of the carrier often works better for this then just sitting in a rocking chair. Make sure when you put baby down to remove the carrier so there are no suffocation hazards.
Back wrapping tips and tricks:
- When you’re beginning back wraps practice while kneeling on your bed or a soft surface and/or start low.
- Get help, have a spot
- Practice getting a good seat in a front wrap cross carry before attempting back wrapping.
- Use a mirror or your computer camera to help you see what’s going on on your back.
- Get hands on help! It makes a huge difference.
I recommend doing the “superman” method for getting baby on your back because you stay in full control and contact of baby while putting baby up. Here’s a video that shows this technique.
I teach best practices for positioning for all babies because suboptimal positioning puts baby at risk for possible hip/spine issues down the road. Like how drinking alcohol doesn’t ALWAYS cause liver disease or smoking doesn’t ALWAYS cause lung cancer the benefits and risks should be weighed when making decisions. The risk is there and I recommend minimizing that risk.
What is your favorite carrier for an infant that can sit on their own?
Classes are cancelled for this month due to change in location.
FREE mother-to-mother breastfeeding support group on Friday, November 18th at 3:30 PM. This is a meeting for mothers and children not comfortable being away from mom (nursing children are always welcome). Please bring some toys for your older children to be entertained.