Increase and maintain milk supply tips

As painful as it was at time when my breasts were engorged, the thought of having an abundance of milk to give my baby was fulfilling to say the least. Then there was days where my breasts just looked deflated so I was unsure as to whether my son was getting enough milk or not. Not to mention when I had to express milk if I was leaving my son with a relative and fifteen minutes of pumping would only result in 2 ounces of milk. This was disheartening as this happened on more than one occasion.

How is breast milk made?

The nipples contain many nerve endings which are triggered when the infant suckles the breast and causes a release in oxytocin and prolactin into the mother bloods stream. The prolactin hormone acts as the milk making tissue and increases the milk supply whereas the oxytocin causes the breast to release the milk that is present in the breast.

This release is known as the let-down reflex or the milk ejection reflex which is a normal reflex elicited by stimulation of the nipple resulting in milk being released from the glands of the breast. Therefore the more a baby suckles, there will be a surge of breast milk released from the glands resulting in the more milk bring produced.

 

MM2e-Fig-08-09-0

 

Factors that can decrease milk supply

There are a number of factors as to why some mothers can’t feel like they can maintain an adequate supply of milk but be reassured even if your baby cries after a feed that doesn’t mean that they didn’t get enough milk, what is important is that you child is gaining weight. Pumping 2 ounces on some occasions and 4-5 ounces on other days I understand how this can make you feel as a mother and here could be some reasons why this may be;

  • Birth control- estrogen containing contraceptives have been linked to low milk supply
  • Breast surgery- Supply can be reduced due to the cutting of milk ducts and nerves.
  • Herbs- Such as black walnut, parsley, chickweed can suppress milk production
  • Suckling difficulties- It’s important that your child latches onto the breast correctly while feeding, (See below).
  • Not feeding at night- Prolactin levels are higher at night therefore this is the best time to feed and increase your milk supply.
  • Use of dummies- Some research suggest that dummies can discourage breastfeeding but more research is required to conclude this advice. (see below)
  • Scheduling feeds- If a baby is hungry but isn’t scheduled yet for a feed the mothers breast milk remain full therefore milk production will slow down.

Remember

empty breast = more milk 

 

Does the food and liquid I consume effect milk supply?

Contrary to popular belief there are many blogs, posts and websites that have such headings ’10 foods that will increase your milk supply’, ’25 foods that will increase your milk supply’ the list is really endless. Having had a browse of these miraculous milk producing foods there isn’t a particular food that is going to increase your milk supply but they will however help. According to Irene Zoppi an internationally board certified lactation consultant and clinical education specialist for Medela mothers should do the following.

Keep pumping: Some mothers notice a decrease in milk supply once they return back to work so one solution to this would be to pump whenever possible; before your baby wakes up, after each feed at various times, through the night especially if your child has stopped feeding through the night this can be known as power pumping. Power pumping tricks your body into producing more milk as you are constantly emptying your breasts.

The method

The best time do use this method would be when your milk supply is at its peak which is usually in the morning.

  • Pump for 20 minutes and rest for 10 minutes
  • Pump for another 10 minutes and rest for 10 minutes
  • Pump for 10 minutes

An hour or so of much needed uninterrupted mummy time is required.

Feed and feed some more: This method is pretty simple as you just need to feed on demand. The more your baby suckles the more breast milk is produced. Simple supply and demand.

Keep hydrated: According to Zoppi drinking more water to increase your milk supply is a myth. Of course this is not to say that you shouldn’t drink the recommended 8 or so glasses per day but there is no need to go overboard. Stick to this rule of drinking when you are thirsty or when you feel hungry because we can at times mistaken hunger for thirst. I would personally recommend drinking coconut water which contains natural electrolytes including potassium and sodium and is perfect for hydrating the body.

Check your latch: An improper latch could result in a number of issues but one of them is that you child wont feed properly therefore they wont get enough milk. Have a read of my post on breastfeeding pros and woes for the correct technique a step by step guide.

Relax: What ever you enjoy doing to relax. Do it. As much as you can even if its for 30 minutes a day. This could be a bath, to read a book , using aromatherapy and meditating in a quiet space or even watching a film. When we get stressed our bodies react with a flight or flight response. This can then lead to muscles becoming tense and an increase in respiratory and heart rate.

I highly recommend the book by Dr Herbert Benson who coined and wrote the book ‘The relaxation response’ which describes the scientific benefits of relaxation.

Herbal remedies and/or prescriptions: I am a herbal tea fan and my two go two herbs I would consume are fenugreek and fennel.  Just like pharmaceutical medication, herbs should also be taken with caution. It is advised to slowly increase your intake of fenugreek while breastfeeding until your urine and sweat smell like maple syrup. Discontinue if you have any adverse reaction to these herbs and try an alternative. I don’t agree with the one glove fits all method and there are many alternatives available as there is over 390,000 species of vascular plants (369,000 are flowering plants) on this planet so i’m sure there is more than these two that can help you.

Use of dummies/ bottles? I had to add a question mark to this point as after much research it is difficult to say as to whether giving your baby a dummy/bottle will result in a decline in feeding. The World Health Organisation warns mothers that giving breast fed babies dummies can discourage breastfeeding whereas as study carried out by scientists from Orgegon Health and Science University found the opposite. The researchers studied a small control group of  2.249 newborn babies up until the age of 14 months and found that there was a 11% decline in breastfeeding rates once the dummy was removed whereas there was an 10% increase in babies who breastfed and received formula. Thus is does depend on the child and you as the mother will know whether your child is thriving from your feeds.

🙂 x

References

Breastfeeding, T. (2018). The physiological basis of breastfeeding. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK148970/ [Accessed 6 Jan. 2018].

Llli.org. (2018). LLLI | Pacifiers: Yes or No?. [online] Available at: http://www.llli.org/nb/nbnovdec95p172.html [Accessed 6 Jan. 2018].

 

 

 

 

Breastfeeding pros and woes

Nothing can honestly prepare you for what it entails to breastfeed your child as a first time mother. You can read all the books, articles and magazines in the world, friends, family and health professionals will give you their advice and might I add their horrific experiences of breastfeeding which makes the thought even more daunting. But just like anything else, practice and patience makes perfect.

I breastfeed my little boy for 26 months which may seem like a long time and as I want to be as transparent as possible on my blog I have to admit it wasn’t the easiest 26 months I have ever encountered.  I just want to point out the following ‘woes’ I experienced as a first time mother and we will work our way up to the beauty of breastfeeding and leave this post on a high note. But first the nitty gritty.

Woe number 1.

I have one inverted nipple (transparent). If any of you don’t know what an inverted nipple it is when you nipple is more indent than it protrudes. I would say mine is half and half. This was my first concern when I had made the decision that I was going to go all the way and breast feed my son up until the age of two years. What if he unable to latch on? What if I don’t produce enough milk in my right breast? what if what if what if…? So I read up on other women’s accounts of breastfeeding with an inverted nipple and my worries lessened slightly as many said they had no problems feeding and producing milk.  But just to be on the safe yet slightly anxious side I decided to purchase a latch assist small mechanism which I must say did help but I gave up using literally within seconds while I was at the hospital as my son latched on to my inverted nipple breast within about one minute with no problems (first proud mama moment)

 

Woe number 2.

Cracked nipples. I was just having flashbacks there for a moment. This was quite an agonising experience to say the least. Nothing worse than having to put on a bra when your nipple (or nipples ) are cracked, sore let alone having your mini me suckle on them for short but frequent periods throughout the day.

What causes cracked nipples?

An improper latch can cause cracked nipples. Below is just a a short step by step guide on how to breastfeed

HCP_How_to_breastfeed_en-390x372

 

I researched various nipple creams and the most popular was by the Lansinoh brand.

I was aware of the proper breastfeeding technique but still suffered from cracked nipples occasionally and this was mainly down to breastfeeding throughout the night. Newborns wake on average every 2-3 hours for a feed the night time is no exception of course. In zombie mode as I was so concerned about co-sleeping with my baby (it is recommended that you shouldn’t with a newborn) my son would sleep in his cot next to my bed which meant my body would be on auto pilot; semi sleep for two hours, walk to the cot, breast feed with one eye open, put son back into cot and back to semi-sleeping and repeat… at least 3-4 times a night… for a year. This of course got a bit easier as he would feed less through the night once he started eating some solid foods.

Woe number 3.

Lack of sleep. One thing that I found difficult at times was when I would hear other parents who bottle fed or started giving their babies solids at an early age that their child was sleeping through the night before they were six months.  I believe it was due to these conversations that I started to introduce solids to my son as well as breastfeed because I was just exhausted. But I was still adamant about breastfeeding my son for the first two years.

What are the benefits of breastfeeding your child past 6 months?

Immunoglobulins are antibodies and there are five different types; IgG, IgA, IgM, IgD and IgE. These can all be found in human breast milk and the one that is found in abundance in the gut and respiratory system is secretory IgA. Babies that are bottle fed don’t begin making secretory IgA on their own until they are a couple of weeks or even months after birth which gives them fewer means of battling ingested pathogens.

According to the Journal of Paediatrics  there is evidence for better long-term health after breast feeding in disorders such as celiac disease, Crohn disease, ulcerative colitis, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease, malignant lymphoma, chronic liver disease, atopic dermatitis, and food allergies.

Woe number 4.

Engorged breasts. Ouch! Another flashback of how uncomfortable this would be not to mention quite surreal it was to have the feeling that you have just undergone some back street boob job. This is usually caused by missing a feed, baby refusing to feed, weaning to early, expressing routinely and so forth. This article on avoiding and treating engorged breast has some useful tips.

Woe number 5.

Saggy breasts. Just to follow on from woe number 4 one thing I have noticed is that I now feel like my breast have not returned to how they was pre-pregnancy. Now this was down to breastfeeding for a long period of time and my weight fluctuating as I can definitely see and feel a difference

What causes breast sagging?

The Cooper’s ligaments are bands that are attached the chest to the muscle and provide support. During pregnancy these are stretched along with the skin. This in turn results in women’s bust size increasing during pregnancy to prepare them for breastfeeding but can cause your breast to droop due to the increased tension on the ligaments. Just like an elastic band over time if stretched will lose its elasticity and no longer taut.

Additional stretching then starts to happen once a mother starts to breastfeed because the milk ducts grow and fill up with milk. Having enlarged breast for a longer period of time will result in stretched ligaments therefore causing that unwanted sagging.

Tips:

These four but simple exercises in Women’s Health magazine I personally do have made such a difference in a short period of time but consistency is key.

 

Woe number 6.

Lack of support/ criticism. After reading a lot of other breastfeeding mothers accounts of breastfeeding their infants at all let alone past 6 months was that many received backlash and no support from families and friends even worse from their own partners. I for one wouldn’t say that my experience was that terrible but I do recall receiving snide comments here and there such as why do I still breast feed my son? Being asked more than once from the same people as to when am I planning to stop breastfeeding.  Not to mention those judgemental looks you would get for breastfeeding your child in public (never understood why this would be offensive). I personally would also use my sling or cloth to cover my self but I don’t and wouldn’t criticise a women who didn’t. We seem to forget what breasts were created for but I wont get into that right now.

Support and networking groups would be the best option for anyone who is seeking help with any issues they may have I following these amazing groups on social media:

Black women do breastfeed

Breast is best

And the National Health service is also very helpful.

Woe number 7.

Expressing milk. I believe I bought about four breast pumps In total and to be honest I found it much easier to express by hand, as I had much more control of my breast and there is a knack to it but it can also be time consuming. One issue I had at times was eating enough calories and keeping hydrated especially when I returned back to work this was also a worry of mine; expressing at work. My first job out of university was in a children’s hospital (might i add i was pregnant in my final year) so expressing at work wouldn’t of been an issue if i chose to however my son was 15 months when I started back at work so i would pump and store and he would eat solids in the day and had milk and i would feed through the night.

Read my post of maintaining milk supply here.


Now we get to the best part. The pro’s of breastfeeding. Now because the list is literally endless i’m going to break them down into bullet points with a short explanation as I could really go on forever.

Beauty in Breast feeding number:

  1. Bonding: Oxytocin or the ‘love hormone’ is released during labour into the blood and floods the mother brain during breastfeeding. The Public Library of Science Computational Biology published a study that was conducted by scientists at Warwick University concluding that when a baby suckles the mothers neurons respond releasing more of the hormone from their dendrites thus creating a stronger link between nerve cells and resulting in a positive feedback loop.
  2.   Strengthens the infants immune system:

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3. Uterus contraction:  The love hormone that we just spoke about is also responsible for uterus contraction while breastfeeding and also reduces the chances of post delivery blood loss. Women who breastfeed their infants, uterus will return back to is normal size at six weeks postpartum compared to mothers who don’t at about 10 weeks.

4. Aids with weight loss: Breastfeeding doesn’t burn calories but it does use them.  See 1 smoothie to aid rapid weigh loss.

5. It’s free: you cant get any better reason than that. Reading up on various parenting posts and asking friends and family about how much they spend on tins of formula; its costs around £10 a week for one tin that will last approximately 6-7 days. That’s £40 a month and £480 a year. There are also follow on milks to add more costs.

6. No periods. Yippee! Breastfeeding will delay ovulation. This is due to the release of prolactin which keeps oestrogen and progesterone at bay so ovulation isn’t triggered.  Women who bottle feed their babies tend to start their periods within about a month or two postpartum whereas women who breast feed can start in weeks, months or even years.

7. Convenient. Boob on tap. No formula mixing, no heating up bottles, no waiting for bottles to cool down, no washing up. Simple as lifting up your top and your baby latched on and its the perfect temperature.

8. Decreased risk in Sudden Infant Deaths (SIDS). An international study conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia suggested that breast feeding for at least two months cuts a babies changes of SIDS by almost half.

The benefits are almost endless so I am a big advocate for breast feeding but by no means am I one to judge another mothers decision if they chose not to breast feed. Once I started to have an understanding for why some women chose not to breast feed I was more open to the idea of formula feeding. Some women can’t breast feed due to a medical condition, they have a low pain threshold, it can be exhausting; mentally and physically and if you don’t have the support it can make it even more difficult to breast feed.

Another alternative would be to use milk banks .This might not be for everyone but there are women who produce milk in abundance and have enough to donate. Take a look at my post on milk banks in the UK.

🙂 x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breast Milks banks- United Kingdom

Every Drop Counts- UKAMB


Hearts Milk Bank

Unit 233, Biopark

Broadwater Road, Welwyn Garden City

Hertfordshire

AL7 3AX

Dr Natalie Shenker

Gillian Weaver

01707358776

Out of hours: 07732019040

info@heartsmilkbank.org

http://heartsmilkbank.org/

Milk available to neonatal units, paediatrics units and babies in the community, under medical guidance. Follow us @heartsmilkbank on Facebook and Twitter.


Medway Maritime Hospital Milk Bank

NICU

Medway Maritime Hospital

Windmill Road

Gillingham

Kent

ME7 5NY

Maureen Mallard

Hannah Selway-Taylor

01634 825125

maureen.mallard@medway.nhs.uk


Southampton Human Milk Bank

Princess Anne Hospital

Coxford Rd

Southampton

Hants

SO16 5YA

Anita Holloway

Lycia Merrifield

023 8120 6009

07795 506279

anita.holloway-moger@uhs.nhs.uk

lycia.merrifield@uhs.nhs.uk

Usually has donor milk available for other hospitals


The Precious Drops Milk Bank (Bristol)

Southmead Hospital

Bristol

BS10 5NB

Marion Copeland

Mikealia Inglis

0117 414 6717

0117 414 6898

milk.bank@nbt.nhs.uk

marion.copeland@nbt.nhs.uk


King’s College Hospital Milk Bank

King’s College Hospital Milk Bank

Denmark Hill

London

SE5 9RS

Jude Angell

Tereza Cepelkova

01689 864924

kch_tr.kingsmilkbank@nhs.net


St Peter’s Hospital Milk Bank – Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust

NICU

St Peter’s Hospital

Guildford Road

Chertsey

Surrey

KT16 0PZ

Becki Hutchinson

01932 722667

SPH.MilkBank@asph.nhs.uk


Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea HospitalImperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

Du Cane Road

London

W12 0HS

Always has milk available for other hospitals

Dr Stephanie D’Arc – Milk Bank Manager

020 3313 3559

milkbank@imperial.nhs.uk


Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Lambeth Palace Road

London

SE1 7EH

Camilla Kingdon

020 7188 8846

camilla.kingdon@gstt.nhs.uk


St George’s Hospital Milk Bank

Neonatal Unit

Blackshaw Road

Tooting

London

SW17 0QT

Theresa Alexander

020 8725 4723

theresaalexander@nhs.net


Oxford Human Milk Bank – John Radcliffe Hospital

John Radcliffe Hospital

Oxford University Hospitals

Headley Way

Headington

Oxford

OX3 9DU

Amanda Wood

01865 225507

amanda.wood@ouh.nhs.uk

Milk bank staffed on Mondays and Fridays, please leave message or email at other times


Birmingham Milk Bank

Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust

Mindelsohn Way

Edgbaston

Birmingham

B15 2TG

Jennifer Harris and Marina Rudge

0121 623 6870

milk.bank@bwhct.nhs.uk

Provides donor milk to other hospitals


Neonatal Unit – Addenbrooke’s NHS Trust

The Rosie Hospital

Robinson Way

Cambridge

CB2 2SW

Janette Clark

01223 274171

 

janette.clark@addenbrookes.nhs.uk


Northwest Human Milk Bank

NoWFOOD Centre

University of Chester

Parkgate Road

Chester

CH1 4BJ

Jackie Hughes

01244 511440

01244 511441

northwest.milkbank@nhs.net

http://www.northwesthmb.org.uk

Always has donor milk available for other hospitals


Calderdale and Huddersfield Donor Breast Milk Bank

The Neonatal Unit

Calderdale Royal Hospital

Salterhebble

Halifax

West Yorkshire

HX3 0PW

Paula Wood

01422 224 421

paula.wood@cht.nhs.uk

Usually has donor milk available for other hospitals


The Human Milk Bank

Unit 2 The Cornsheads

Mill Street

Irvinestown

Co. Fermanagh

BT94 1GR

Ann McCrea

Vivienne Carson

028 686 28333 (from UK)

048 686 28333 (from RoI)

07825 196979

tmb.irvinestown@westerntrust.hscni.net

ALWAYS has donor milk available for other hospitals


One Milk Bank for Scotland

Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Maternity Unit

1345 Govan Road

Glasgow

G51 4TF

Debbie Barnett

0141 232 4006

donor.milkbank@ggc.scot.nhs.uk

http://www.onemilkbankforscotland.co.uk/

1 Smoothie to aid rapid weight loss after pregnancy

One of the biggest complaints mothers have is weight loss after having a baby. In addition to loose skin, lack of sleep which in turn can open the doors to various other health problems; it can be difficult bouncing back to your pre-pregnancy self. One change I noticed after having my son is because of all the hormonal changes, my body was incredibly soft and jelly like would be the best yet non-scientific way to describe it but that was what was the first thing that popped into my mind…jelly.
Pre-pregnancy I weighed around 140lbs give or take which then dropped dramatically (which is normal) within my first trimester to about 125-130lbs in a matter of weeks due to loss of appetite. This of course all changed in my second to third trimester when I weighed around 160lbs. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are recommended to eat an extra 500 calories per day and the beauty of breastfeeding is that it actually aids weight loss. According to the La Leche league it takes 20 calories to produce 1oz of milk so for instance an 150lbs women can burn approximately 500 calories a day.
breastfeeding-2090396_1920

The built in detox system

The liver is our largest internal organ and is responsible for regulating, synthesizing, storing and secreting all of the important nutrients and proteins. A healthy liver aids the detoxification process as everything we eat is broken down, absorbed into the blood stream as is passed through the liver which in turn rids any toxic substances within the body.  According to Dr. Michael Gershon a professor of pathology and cell biology from Columbia university of New York the body is well equipped to rid any toxins that enter the body all by itself. This of course varies for every individual as there are a few exceptions for those for instance who have liver diseases caused by excessive alcohol consumption or Heptatis A,B or C which can cause toxins to accumulate within the body.  But according to academics there isn’t any solid scientific evidence that cleanses and detox actually work.
In my opinion I know what works for me and my body and I disagree that cleanses, fasting and detoxing aren’t beneficial for the mind body and soul. As I will be doing another post on fasting, I will save the benefits for another post but I experienced the following once I started eliminating and adopting a healthier lifestyle which includes mild detox’s:
  1. Clearer skin and less breakouts (after the initial detox)
  2. More frequent bowel movements (2-3 per day)
  3. Less bloating
  4. Increase in energy
  5. Less sugar cravings

Blending convenience 

One thing I value is convenience as a mother so I like many would rely on quick fix smoothies and shakes. My number one go to smoothie would be my ‘Clean Green’ smoothie; high in fibre, essential fatty acids and vitamins and minerals. Most importantly it can be made  and consumed in less than 10 mins; while cleaning, while breastfeeding your baby in your sling…you get the point.
Name: Clean Green shake
Benefits: High in antioxidants, fibre and essential fatty acids
Level: Easy
Time: 10 mins (unless steaming method used)
Ingredients 
1/2 tbsp Spirulina
1/2 Chlorella
1/2 cup Spinach
1/2 cup raw or lightly steamed kale
1/2 cup cucumber
1 tsp flaxseed
1-2 Cups water (or a liquid depending on your preference)
 green-422995_1280
 

What are the health benefits of each ingredient?

Spirulina
Is an algae that is a great source of protein and contains all of the essentials amino acids and also is rich in Zinc, magnesium, Calcium, potassium and iron.
Chlorella
Also an algae is also a great source of iron. In order to benefit from chlorella’s nutrients it is recommended to consume chlorella with a broken cell wall as the cell wall of chlorella is indigestible.
Spinach 
Another great source of iron, magnesium and vitamin C and B6
Kale
This dark green lovely vegetables is packed with Vitamin A and C, beta carotene and calcium.
Cucumber
This long wonder is not only made up of 96% water which is great for hydrating the body which is paramount while breastfeeding but its also contains an anti-inflammatory flavonol which is great for brain health.
Flaxseed
Not only is this seed also high in fibre but also Contains alphalinolenic acid (ALA) a plant based omega-3 fatty acid which can help reduce inflammation but also according the journal An increase in Omega-6/ Omega-3 fatty acid ratio increases the risk for obesity  written Dr Armetis Simopoulos founder and president of The centre of genetics, nutrion and Health in Washington D.C an  increase in omega 3 can also help with weight loss.

 

 

Recommendations

Taste for me personally isn’t everything when it comes to eating healthy but it does make a bit easier when your dishes and juices are more palatable so if you want to add a natural sweetener I would recommend the following but try to use small quantities as this is a smoothie to aid weight loss:
  • Raw honey
  • Medjool dates
  • Stevia
  • Molasses
  • Coconut sugar
  • Fruits

 

Here is a list of the products that I personally buy on a regular basis.

  1. Sevenhills Wholefoods Organic Spirulina
  2. Sevenhills Wholefoods Organic Chlorella: Broken cell wall
  3. Linwoods Organic Milled Flaxseed 
  4. Natural Erythritol

Enjoy 🙂 x