I’ve been exclusively pumping for eight months.
In that time, I’ve gone through our supply of frozen breastmilk 2-3 times and built it back up again; but recently I hit an all time low.
By the afternoons I was only pumping one ounce of milk. I started to imagine that my body was just done producing.😦
I made it my goal and prayer: Within two days I would get 4 oz in my morning pumping session (still less than half my normal amount); and within a week I would start rebuilding my freezer stash.
Here’s what the four days looked like, from the day I started my “milk booster blitz.”
- Day One (low): 10 oz
- Day Two: 12 oz
- Day Three: 14 oz
- Day Four: 20 oz
On days five and six I froze 4 oz of breastmilk. I froze even more on the days after that.
So here’s what I did.
1. Drink More Water. Another mom’s suggestion: “Drink 2x the water you want to produce.” I also drink a lot of coconut water.
2. Relax/Reduce Stress. Our first baby exclusively nursed and was chubby, so I had no idea HOW MUCH stress can affect supply. Now that I’m exclusively pumping I know…
3. Eat. Eat often. Preferably meals/snacks high in protein, live enzymes, and healthy fat (e.g. avocado, coconut oil, almonds).. Being hungry and eating too many carbs hurts my milk supply. My protein shake and vitamins also help tremendously.
5. Troubleshoot. Check the valves, tubes, membranes of your pump. I’d start by checking the membranes – or just change them. If they’re old, bent or have a tiny tear, the pump will be less efficient.
Personally, I’ve found that the quality of the pump makes a huge difference too.
6. Hand Express. By learning to do this effectively, I often get 2 oz more of milk. Plus it saves stress and provides a tad more flexibility.
7. Pump Between 1-5 A.M. I had dropped this pump – I still don’t do it every day because I don’t get much when I’m exhausted – but often, this is my “most productive” pump.
8. Essential Oil Protocol. I’ve seen a tremendous difference with a few different essential oils, particularly clary sage.
After my supply dropped this time, I read an updated protocol by midwife Stefanie Fritz. She said, “Use 2-3 drops of fennel in a capsule and basil on the bottoms of your feet a few times a day, and you will definitely see an increase the next day.” I started that regimen, and continued with the clary sage.
Honestly, although all of these were definitely factors in building up my supply so quickly, I believe the essential oils and the middle of the night pump were crucial.
I’d love to hear your story! What have you found most helpful for milk supply?