My Precious Milk Supply
I often stand in front of my freezer admiring my collection of breastmilk. My breastmilk collection has become one of my greatest accomplishments. I never understood the phrase “No use crying over spilled milk” until I actually spilled a freshly pumped bottle of breastmilk. Yes, I cried.
For any mother who has breastfed, you know how precious every ounce of milk is. Now that I have a newborn again, I am reminded of the dedication it takes to feed my sweet baby boy. Breastfeeding to me is wonderful. I love that special time with my baby. I also love having my baby close to my skin. It gives us both a big rush of endorphins. He eats and I adore him. It’s a fair trade.
Pumping, however takes a whole other level of commitment. At four weeks postpartum, I am back to work. As I sit at my computer completing patient charts with the buzz of my breast pump in the background, I remember that pumping is much more mechanical than actually breastfeeding my baby and comes with much less endorphins. As I increase my frozen milk supply, I am reminded that I must take care of myself in order to take care of my baby.
Here are some of my personal tips to maintain milk supply and build your own stash:
- Sleep. When I breastfed my oldest daughter, I was completing my first year of residency training. The hours were long and grueling. I noticed that when I would work a long stretch of night shifts, my milk supply would dwindle. However, I could always get back on track with a few good nights of rest and a consistent pumping schedule.
- Eat healthy and focus on steady weight loss. This is a challenge for me because I want to lose the baby weight as quickly as possible. However, I notice when I’ve lost too much weight too quickly. My supply shrinks slightly, so I add in a couple hundred calories per day until my supply rebounds.
- Drink water. Your milk is fluid and you need extra fluid for high production. I’ve read you should drink 8 ounces of water with every feeding. If you drink to thirst (and you will be thirsty) that will suffice.
- Make time to pump. The more stimulation your breasts get, the more milk you will produce. Even when you’re busy, you must commit to a pumping schedule that is at least somewhat similar to your baby’s feeding schedule.
- Get your baby on a schedule. I know this is controversial advice, but I think this improves breastfeeding success. I initially tried feeding on demand, and I ended up exhausted because my baby was eating all the time, almost every hour. Getting your baby on a schedule also helps extend the amount of nighttime hours that your baby (and you) sleep.