In my case, with P I have a low milk supply. It gets better - this time around, I have to nurse on my left side, in order to get my right side to let down at all. If I try to nurse on my right side at the beginning of a feeding, poor P will stay there for hours with no letdown. HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE? Needless to say, this is not something birthing class could possibly have ever accounted for.
Recently, I started another masters degree
because I'm batshit crazy. This has resulted in the need to pump while I'm away, in order to keep my supply as active as possible. In the process of added school stress my supply has begun to dwindle even further. How do I know this? You might ask. Well, its simple really. My right nipple stopped dripping during letdown when P was nursing from the left side. Whereas previously it was a slow leaky faucet drip it had completely halted. Zip, zero-niltch.
My own experience got me to thinking that it would've been nice to have known a few things about low milk supply when I first realized I had this issue. So I took the liberty of compiling a list of: things
they bloody well should've told us during the breastfeeding section of birthing class that might be helpful in boosting a milk supply:
1) Feed as often as possible for as long as possible. This is especially helpful in the first few weeks when the milk supply is establishing. Breast milk is generally suppose to be a supply and demand operation, ergo the more you feed the more milk your body produces (or is suppose to).
2) Skin to skin contact increases milk production. Mom's body releases hormones when her skin is placed in contact with babies skin. The more time spent with baby close to you the more it helps increase your supply. The heat from your body will keep baby warm.
3) Stress is counterproductive. Literally. Stress and lack of sleep will prevent you from producing optimum milk supply. With new babies this is easier said than done. However, if Dad or friends are willing to help out - let them.
4) Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle are amazing. These herbal supplements help increase milk supply. In the U.S. there is also "mother's milk tea" which is rumoured to also be a good alternative. For those of us in Canada - fenugreek and blessed thistle will become your best friend.....
5) Oatmeal is amazing. Put it in cookies, make it as cereal, use it in muffins- oatmeal is not only nutritious for nursing mamas but is also a breast milk supply booster.
6) Don't give up if you don't want to. You may feel like you want to give up 50 million times during the process of struggling through low milk supply issues. However, if you really want to continue the breastfeeding relationship then the age old adage: all the best things are worth fighting for, applies here. Its not an easy road, but if you are able to stick it out, you can make it work. The desire to make it work is half the battle already.
Which brings me to my next revelation. P will be turning 1 year this month, and despite the countless hours of worrying about my supply, I have made it this far. And after another round of fenugreek my right nipple even started to drip again at letdown during feedings.
Further proof that the body works in mysterious ways. As ridiculous as that one physical element may seem, it has given me renewed hope and energy to continue my battle against my insolent milk supply. Because P is not yet ready to wean and I don't want to end my breastfeeding relationship yet. Which is why my right nipple finally dripping during let down is a good thing.