Boosting BM supply? (for BTDT Moms)

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OregonJewels's picture
Joined: 12/29/10
Posts: 344
Boosting BM supply? (for BTDT Moms)

Please remind me of some ways to boost my breast milk supply. I know fenugreek but cant really remember much else except drinking more water.
Kai had another Pedi appt today to weigh him and he only gained .5 oz in one week! The previous week he only gained 2 oz. He was 9.2 at birth but is only 8.13 now(he'll be 3 weeks tomorrow). So the doc said it is my milk quality or how much he is getting. He is eating about every 2-3 hours(every 3-4 at night). When I pump I get about 2 oz total from both breasts but who knows how much he is getting when he actually feeds??? So of course he suggested supplementing him. I never had to do that with the other boys so I am really frustrated and worried about Kai. Kai is still really sleepy all the time, especially when he is at the breast and I have to really stimulate him to keep sucking. Doc thinks he just doesnt have the energy to stay awake, which makes sense to me. My instincts have told me that he is sleeping too much but I kept telling myself that I just forgot how much babies sleep.
So, my other question is...did any of you supplement and breastfeed? If so, how did it go for you and how long did you continue breastfeeding? The Doc said that when you go the road of supplementing that you usually end up not being able to go back to full time breastfeeding and that usually much earlier than a year(like3-6 months) most women would be done with breastfeeding(just because your supply cant keep up and eventually dries up).
I want to do what is best for Kai but I really dont want to mess with bottles. If it was just short term I wouldnt mind but I dont want to end up totally on bottles of formula. No offense to anyone who didnt breastfeed but, to me bottles are just a total PITA that I just cant afford(financially or time/work load).

wobbs's picture
Joined: 05/27/10
Posts: 1502

I supplemented with Annabelle a few times (She got less than 30 oz of formula total). In terms of ways to boost your supply, I found oatmeal (some people say only the real kind, but I found that even instant helped me), and drinking a TON of water (I easily drink over a gallon of water a day). Hope Kai starts gaining weight quickly for you.

jac81's picture
Joined: 11/22/10
Posts: 1131

I've only supplemented a couple of times. She's probably only received 24-30 oz. of formula. I mainly give her a bottle if she seems to be going through a growth spurt and I'm exhausted. I'm never really worried about my supply when I supplement because the times that I do is when she wants to constantly nurse which I will do all day until I can't stay up any longer.

To help my supply, I took Fenugreek the 1st month. I drank dark beer which really helped my supply. I've also been eating oatmeal every morning and drinking milkmaid tea.

irishgirl's picture
Joined: 04/10/07
Posts: 1043

I had that problem with my first. She was the SLEEPIEST baby ever and would just not work with me. No matter how much I undressed her, moved her around, tickled her head/feet she just wasn't working with me. They talked to me about supplementing at her 48 hour check, but I did a few things to get her up past birth weight without formula.

I would hand express in her mouth when she fell asleep. She'd swallow if I expressed it into her mouth. EVERY TIME she was awake I fed her until she fell asleep again. (I've done that with my other 2 babies too for the first month or so) I made sure she ate every 2 hours during the day. I kept her close to me because there is something about the baby being close to you that helps you produce milk. (I think it's the same theory about looking at a picture/thinking about baby while your pumping to get a good letdown). I pumped a few times a day and fed her a bottle of breastmilk. I think it was usually twice a day 2 oz. I only would give her a bottle of breastmilk AFTER I tried to get her to nurse for 15 minutes. (that she was latched and actively sucking for 15 minutes) That was my goal. I let her sleep one 4 hour stretch at night, but other than that would make sure she would eat 3 hours later.
Make sure you're drinking A TON of water. Also eating enough calories. I know sometimes it's hard to remember to eat. I'd have some snacks and I'd try to eat every time I nursed. A granola bar or some peanut butter crackers. I'd also try to drink at least 8 oz of water every time I nursed.

I only had to do that 2 days and she started gaining. (a lot, I believe it was about 5 oz in 2 days) Ours wasn't a problem with supply, it was more a problem with a sleepy baby that didn't want to wake up to eat. After she started gaining weight it started to become easier to wake her/she ate more often.

If you think it's a true supply issue the best thing to do is nurse, nurse, nurse. Then pump. Keep your body getting that signal to make more milk.
Fenugreek, I hear you need to take enough to smell like maple syrup.
Oatmeal. Lots and lots of oatmeal. There are cookie recipes online you can google that are supposed to help.

To find out how much he's getting you need to weigh him before a feed and after a feed. I'm surprised your ped didn't do this. it was the first thing my ped did and she ate 2 oz. That's when they told me it definitely wasn't a supply issue. You can go to a LC or probably even ask the ped to do this. You weigh the baby, feed them, then weigh them again. Whatever weight they "gain" between the two feeds is how much he's eating.

I hope he starts gaining for you soon! I understand about formula not being an option with the time/expense/etc. involved.

Dylemma's picture
Joined: 09/04/09
Posts: 449

Callan was exactly the same. He was 8lb10oz dropped to 7lb 13oz and is 3weeks today and is still not back to birth weight. He was jaundiced too so we did go with supplementing he has three bottles a day. 1is my milk which I express in the morning, and the other 2 are formula he gets 50ml can't be bothered to figure out what that's in oz's lol When I started to express I wasn't getting very much at all. My lactation advisor suggested brewers yeast. I take 2 tablets 3 times a day now when I express I get between 80-90ml each time more than three times what I was getting. I am hoping on Tues when he is weighed he is back up to bw and if so I am going to stop the formula. Hope you guys get it figured out. Also hope his cold and cough is getting better. Callan is still suffering but nowhere near as bad as was 2 days ago.

Joined: 02/20/11
Posts: 865

There is a perscription medication available but I don't know what it's called. Also brewers yeast worked well for me.

Joined: 07/15/07
Posts: 630

my friend swore by dark beer

Joined: 02/20/11
Posts: 272

Brewers Yeast, Oatmeal, Fenugreek, and lots of water(and food!) are good ways. Some work for some women and other work for other women. They do make a medicine you can try too.

Also try nursing skin to skin, only offering one breast at a feeding, and try nursing laying down in bed.

You can also contact your hospital about speaking with a IBCLC(not just a nurse with breastfeeding knowledge) and seeing if they have a support group. They usually have a scale to weigh baby on before and after feedings. There is a breastfeeding subforum on here too, so might want to ask there as well.

We have a weekly support group at the hospital in the conference room next to the lactation office. We have snacks and tips and recipes for foods to help boost the supply and actually taste good. We also have a scale open for use by us the entire meeting to weigh as many times as we want. The group meets from 10-12 on wednesdays each week, but it is a come and go as you please. I usually go between 11-1130 and stay until it is over. I've only been 2 times in his 6 weeks though. I planned to go yesterday but didn't make it. Everyone just goes as they please and it is nice to have the support and company and a lactation consultant at hand before, during, and after feedings to ask questions.

I hope you are able to work something out, but the fact he hasn't lost anything is a very good thing. You just need to work on keeping him awake and on the breast long enough to get the good hindmilk- which is why you only want to offer 1 breast at the feeding, the longer he nurses the 1 breast, the more letdowns you will have, the more hindmilk he is getting.

Also do not be discouraged by pumping, you might not have the right pump for your breasts. I had a hospital pump that they gave me, the $1200 medical grade one. After 45 minutes I could get an ounce MAYBE two out of BOTH breasts. It was very frustrating! Especially because I was FULL, but I couldn't get the milk out for relief. Then after a few months, I tried my sister's avent manual pump and it completely emptied me in minutes!
So that is something to keep in mind as well.

Joined: 02/12/07
Posts: 365

All great suggestions. We are having the exact same problems. Slow gainers. Gah!
Here's our laundry list:
Fenugreek 3 pills 3 x daily
Blessed Thistle 3 pills 3 x daily
Milkmaid tea
Lots of water

OregonJewels's picture
Joined: 12/29/10
Posts: 344

Remind me Mira, how big were your boys at birth?

Joined: 02/12/07
Posts: 365

Archer was 6lb 12oz now is 7lb 5oz
Harrison was 7lb 1oz now is just back to birth weight. They are exactly 3 weeks today.
Our problem is that H has a crap latch so he's getting less milk & more specifically less hind milk b/c he gets tired & gives up after awhile. Gotta strip him naked & put a cold cloth on him & make him good & mad.

We're getting going though.
How's Kai doing? How're your boobs? Do you think his latch is off at all?

OregonJewels's picture
Joined: 12/29/10
Posts: 344

Wow, I didnt realize that our babies were born on exactly the same day! That is cool! and what great weights for twins! but them not gaining is frustrating, especially when you are putting out so much effort. I think Kai probably doesnt have the best latch, it is because he is so sleepy all time, it is hard to get him to open wide enough, but there are no Lactation consultants out here. I am Feeding him half hour, then supplementing with one oz of formula made with my BM then pumping for 10 minutes. That gives me and hour our of every 2 hours "free" to take care of business and my other two kiddos. Not a whole lot is getting done as you can imagine and I am exausted because that leaves no time for sleep, and who can sleep for just one hour at a time anyways? I think we will only have to do this a little while before my milk comes up though. I remember doing something similar with the others but just couldnt remember just what I did.

Joined: 02/20/11
Posts: 272

Jules, you have a sling right? Have you tried nursing in the sling while working around the house? I do this all the time. A good sling will hold their heads in place so you can bend and all without losing the latch.

K_Lo's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 1201

I notice a big difference in babies weight gain when I'm not getting enough calories. I find it so difficult to remember to eat during the day being so busy with the kids, but I keep juice on hand during the day and drink as much as I can the first few weeks. I prefer drink 100% grape juice :). Plenty of calories in that stuff! I know it sounds weird but it has always worked for me!