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Food For Breastfeeding: Which Foods to Avoid & What Foods to Eat

Why Food Matters for Breastfeeding

The food you choose to eat while breastfeeding can have a huge impact on the quality and quantity of breast milk you produce. But eating is so common, so everyday, that we often forget how important it really is. As moms, and especially new moms, our needs tend to get set aside as we take care of others and sometimes we forget to eat all together! What we eat and drink and when we eat or drink is the major determiner for how much we weigh, how healthy we are and how much energy we have. Food contributes to what diseases we get or avoid and how long we’ll live. Given all that, it’s not much of a surprise that one of the number one queries we get at Lactiful is “Tell Me About Food For Breastfeeding.”

What Food For Breastfeeding Should You Avoid?

In general, any properly prepared food or drink, when enjoyed in moderation, is safe for you and your breastfeeding little one. There are two exceptions to that rule:

  1. When a breastfeeding baby continues to cry after her needs are met (fed, clean diaper, rested, and receiving quality parent time.) In this case the breastfeeding baby may be sensitive or allergic to a food or foods you are eating.
  2. Food that can decrease your breast milk production.

Foods for Breastfeeding That can Cause Sensitivities:

Babies are born with immature digestive systems. It is fairly common that a breastfeeding baby will be sensitive or allergic to a food you are eating for a time. Often times they will outgrow this sensitivity. Here are some foods & drinks that sometimes bother breastfeeding babies:

    Food & drink that contains caffeine: Coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, energy drinks, and “daytime” medicine can contain caffeine that make a breastfeeding baby unhappy. To learn more, read Breastfeeding and Caffeine.

   Dairy: Milk, cheeses, ice cream and even butter, can upset the tummy of a breastfeeding baby.

    Spicy food: Hot sauce, peppers, garlic and other spicy food can cause painful gas in a breastfeeding baby.

     Citrus food like oranges, lemons and grapefruit can lead to diaper rash and discomfort in breastfeeding babies.

If you or your spouse have a blood relative with a food allergy, use caution with that food for breastfeeding. Most common are peanuts and shellfish but be aware of any food allergies that exist in your family tree. Talk with your pediatrician. Some new research suggests that exposing an infant to small amounts of that food through breastfeeding may help to prevent that allergy later in life when the child is exposed directly to the food. But talk with your doctor about what they recommend for your family and that specific food for breastfeeding.

Finally enjoy fish and alcohol in moderation. Fish often contains mercury and you should avoid more than 6 ounces of certain types of fish per week. Avoid more than 2 alcoholic drinks per week and time those drinks for the longest intervals between breastfeeding sessions, usually immediately after baby goes to sleep for the evening. For more information see our article Alcohol and Breastfeeding – All Questions Answered.

What to Do if You Suspect Your Baby May Have a Sensitivity to a Food Through Breastfeeding:

After all of your baby’s needs are met, if your breastfeeding baby is still fussy or upset it could be due to the food you are eating. If one of the above food categories jumps out as something you’ve been eating a lot of, try cutting it out for several days and see how your baby responds. If that food is the culprit, baby’s mood should improve.

However, if she continues to be fussy or if none of the food categories stands out to you, you can try going to an oatmeal-only diet. That’s one way to determine if a food you’re eating is the source of baby’s fussiness – just eliminate everything else! When a type of food is affecting your breastfeeding baby it should clear up quickly on an oatmeal-only diet. If baby is content on an oatmeal-only diet, slowly add back one food type at a time and watch how baby responds. When baby becomes upset you’ll likely have found the cause.

Of course, if your baby is experiencing any symptoms of an allergic reaction to a food for breastfeeding, other than fussiness, you should definitely consult with your doctor or pediatrician.

Foods For Breastfeeding That Can Decrease Your Milk Production:

If milk production is at all a concern for you, there are certain foods you should avoid for breastfeeding because it has been linked to lowering milk production. Please see our article on the specific foods that can lower breast milk production.

Is It True That Breastfeeding Mothers Need More Food For Breastfeeding?

Yes! A breastfeeding mother requires 500 additional calories per day to maintain a healthy milk supply. That’s 200 calories more than a pregnant mother requires!

What is the Best Food For Breastfeeding If You Want To Increase Milk Production?

There are certainly foods that can help increase breast milk production, but first, a word of warning. Even if you eat 6 bowls of oatmeal a day and take all the recommended herbs, your milk supply likely won’t change if your supply problem is caused by an unresolved hormone issue. So be sure to try to identify and resolve the cause of your lower milk supply. We’ve written a helpful series of articles that can point the way. See the 27 causes of low milk supply to get started.

Once you have investigated and started working on solving the cause of your low milk production then it’s time for the three powerful foods for breastfeeding!

The Three Most Powerful Foods for Breastfeeding:

These are the three foods that seem to really help increase milk production. The more of these three you can weave into your diet, the bigger the boost to your milk supply.

  • Oats (oatmeal)

   Eat Oatmeal for breakfast every day. As long as you aren’t using oatmeal to eliminate everything else from your diet, you can feel free to add any flavorings you wish to mix it up. Try cinnamon and apples; peanut butter and raisins; or brown sugar and milk.

   You can add some rolled oats to a bowl of vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit as a snack, or lunch.

  • Brewer’s yeast

   Add 1-2 Tablespoons to a beverage to drink every day.

   Try adding a bit to your baked goods.

   Try blending it into a smoothie.

  • Fenugreek powder

   Search for recipes that use it as a spice. Often Indian food and curry recipes work well with Fenugreek.

   Use it in a spice blend or dry rub.

   Sprinkle a pinch over yogurt, or cooked greens.

   If you can find the leaves, they can be used in salads.

Mom and Baby in Chef's hats, showing Healthy Foods For Breastfeeding
What are Healthy Foods for Breastfeeding?

Other Foods for Breastfeeding:

There are many other foods that are believed to support breastfeeding. They are:

  • Protein: lean meats, chicken, turkey and soy.
  • Nuts: Almonds, almond butter, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
  • Whole grains: breads, crackers and cereals, whole-wheat waffles & pitas, brown rice
  • Garlic, cinnamon – but be careful with these ones, they can fall into that spicy food category that we talked about above that some babies are sensitive to.
  • Beans
  • Apricots, peaches, carrots
  • Dark leafy greens such as baby spinach or romaine
  • Healthy fats such as in olive oil and ground flaxseed

If you are concerned about low milk production and can plan a menu that maximizes the three power foods for breastfeeding with this list of foods that support breastfeeding, you’ll have uncovered the best food for breastfeeding.

Image of Bottle of Lactiful Supply Max and The Lactiful Method for Increasing Milk Supply
Lactiful Supply Max is Guaranteed to Increase Breastmilk in 14 Days or Your Money Back!

Finally, if you are concerned about your milk supply, try Lactiful Supply Max. It’s guaranteed to increase your milk supply in 14 days, or your money back!

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Pumping Problems: Pumping Little or No Milk

Does Pumping Little, or No Milk Mean You Have Low Milk Supply?

 

It can be very discouraging to sit down at your breast pump and have a pumping problem like getting little or no milk. It’s probably the worst pumping problem to have, but does it automatically mean you have low breast milk production?

The bad news is that it may. But before jumping to that conclusion you should consider if there is something else that is causing you to pump little or no milk. This is particularly true if you have never had good results from your pump. But even if you had good results in the past, keep reading because good pumps can go bad.

Here is a list of things that can cause pumping problems:

A poor quality pump can definitely cause pumping problems:

Pumps vary widely in quality and effectiveness. Some are like a cruise ship and some are like a row boat. Medical-grade pumps found in hospitals are the cruise ships of the pumping world. Lower quality pumps are the rowboats. A lower quality pump can work for some women, but often doesn’t work for all. Perhaps you are having pumping problems because you’re using a row boat.

Many hospitals will rent a medical-grade pump so if you think your pump may be the cause, rent a cruise ship and then you’ll know for certain. If you find that your pump is the culprit it’s time to invest in your own cruise ship. If the cost is prohibitive you may want to check into your health insurance. Some insurance will cover a breast pump when it is considered medically necessary. For qualifying families, your local WIC office may also be able to help provide you with a pump.

A poor fit can cause pumping problems:

If you tried to run a race in shoes that were 2 sizes too big, or worse, 2 sizes too small, you’d be terribly uncomfortable and your performance would suffer. Having a poor fitting pump flange is the same as having poor fitting race shoes. Pump flanges need to be fitted to the shape and size of both your nipple and your breast. Most Lactation Consultants can help with this, and some facilities that sell pumps can help with a proper fit as well. Just like how we often have one foot that is slightly larger than the other, it is not uncommon to need one size flange for one breast, and a different size for the other breast! Poor fitting shoes will ruin your race and a poor fitting pump flange can be the cause of pumping little to no milk and other poor pump performance.

A malfunctioning pump can cause pumping problems:

Sometimes your pump will decrease the amount of suction that it used to have. A very easy fix for this is to replace your pump’s membranes. The membranes are the thin white discs that hook into the valves inside the pumping bottles. If these discs develop a tiny whole or become misshapen from washing they won’t make a perfect seal and this can greatly affect your pump’s performance and cause pumping problems. Most new pumps will come with extra membranes because of this, but they can also be ordered easily. If you used to get more milk from the same pump, replacing your pump’s membranes is one of the first things to try.

If that doesn’t fix the problem, check your tubing. Sometimes a tiny hole in the tubing can occur and will cause a loss of suction. If you suspect this, replace the tubing on your pump. Otherwise, if your pump is old, or has seen many hours of pumping, it may simply be time to replace it. Sometimes pumps simply wear out. If you can turn the suction setting all the way up on your pump without any discomfort, it is probably time to replace your pump.

Not feeling comfortable with your pump can cause pumping problems:

Some women find pumping to be unnatural and awkward. If you feel this way it’s much more difficult to get a positive response from the pump. Some women can pump two full bottles with a crummy hand pump in 8 minutes flat while some moms hooked up to hospital-grade pumps become so nervous and anxious that only a few drops come out after 15 minutes. A big part of success rests in the mother’s mind. Try to put stressful thoughts out of your mind. Focus on relaxing and think about your baby.

Many mother’s find it very helpful to listen to a recording of your baby’s sounds and to look at photos, or videos of their baby. Try this! You may find you get a much better response from your breast pump. Try not to focus on the amount of milk you are getting. Some women who have difficulty getting their milk to let-down to a pump find they have better success using hand expression.

An inconsistent schedule can cause pumping problems:

Breast milk is a supply and demand system. Your body learns when the demands are and will produce the most milk when there is regular, consistent demand. Having a random schedule can lead to pumping problems. For best results you should try to pump at about the same time every day. After about 2 weeks of pumping at the same time your body will learn that it needs to have more milk ready at that time and you’ll be able to pump more.

What Can I Do to Help With My Pumping Problems?

Eliminate Pumping Problems by ensuring that pumping is comfortable:

  • Ensure that you have properly fitting flanges, there are many different sizes available.
  • Try different flange materials. Many women find a “soft shield” to be much more comfortable for pumping as the plastic is not so rigid. (But be careful about putting them in the dishwasher or sanitizer as the heat can misshape the softer plastic.)
  • Use a lanolin product such as Lansinoh, or olive oil to lubricate your nipple and areola prior to pumping to reduce friction.
  • Try adjusting the amount of suction you are using with your pump. More suction does not equal more milk. Sometimes more suction can just equal more discomfort which can actual inhibit your let-down reflex and will actually mean you’ll get less milk! Ideally you want your pump to most closely mimic your baby’s suck. Play with different settings to see what works best for you and what triggers the most let-downs. Pumping should NOT hurt.
  • Be sure that you are comfortable while you pump. There’s nothing worse than being hooked up to a pump with everything exposed and hearing footsteps and voices approaching. This kind of tension can cause your shoulders to rise to your ears, but it can also cause your milk ducts to close right up and your let-downs to cease. It is important to be able to fully relax when you are pumping. Ensure that you are in a private place, that you can lock the door, and close the blinds. You shouldn’t ever feel like you have to pump in a bathroom stall – in fact, there are even laws that can protect you from that in many states if you are pumping at work. See this site for laws that apply to your state.
  • Gather your comfort items before you start pumping. Be sure to have a bottle of water. Maybe grab yourself a snack, a good book or your phone to entertain yourself and provide some distraction as the minutes go by.

Try to achieve as many let-downs as possible:

  • Most pumps have a “let-down cycle” when you first turn the pump on, the suction pattern is different; this is to trigger your let-down. When your milk flow has slowed you can turn this cycle on again to start your next let-down. Many pumps will allow you to simply press the button to start this cycle again. Some pumps you’ll need to turn off and turn on again. You may find that turning off the pump and waiting 30 seconds to a couple of minutes can help to trigger an additional let-down as well.
  • Smells can be very powerful triggers. Try holding one of your baby’s outfits or blankets that haven’t been washed, and still smell like your baby. You might be surprised by how strong of an emotional reaction this can bring!
  • Look at pictures or video of your baby. Think of the songs you sing to him, or giving birth to him. Let-downs are often triggered by emotions, or even the feeling of getting goosebumps!
  • If you have to pump because you have to be away from your baby, some women can find it more disturbing to think about their baby because it makes them so sad to be away. If this is the case, distraction may get the best results. Try calling a friend on the phone and talking away the time that you need to pump.

Really get the milk flowing:

  • If you can, apply a heat compress about 10 minutes before you are going to pump. This can help to open your milk ducts and help relax everything to really get the milk flowing.
  • Once your milk has started flowing, use hand compressions to increase the flow of milk. Start with your hand by your rib cage and cup your breast with your fingers under your breast and your thumb on top of your breast. Gently squeeze your breast between your thumb and your fingers. As you do this the milk flow should increase. When the milk flow begins to slow again rotate your hand  slightly and squeeze again. Work your way all the way around the breast, and then start moving forward toward the nipple and continue with the hand compressions, particularly focusing on any pockets of milk.

Take Galactagogues:

Take What? A galactagogue is a food or drug that promotes or increases a mothers milk flow. Some galactagogues increase the amount of milk your body makes, some galactagogues increase your let-down reflex. Both of these can be extremely beneficial if you are experiencing pumping problems. Lactiful Supply Max contains 8 all-natural herbal galactagogues to help increase your milk supply and boost your let-down reflex, plus it’s backed by a complete money-back guarantee that you’ll be happy with your results, or you get a full refund including shipping both ways! Learn about the ingredients in Lactiful here.

Fill those freezer bags full!

Conclusion

The thing to remember is that the amount of milk you get from pumping or hand expression doesn’t necessarily indicate if you have low milk supply. It may be that your supply is just fine, but you don’t know the proper way to hand express, or maybe you don’t respond well to your pump, or maybe your pump is old, weak, has poor fit or is defective.

If none of these seem likely to explain your pumping problems, then it may be that you have a milk production problem. Read all about how to correct milk production problems using The Lactiful Method here.

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Baby Crying at the Breast

Baby Crying at the Breast, Is It A Sign Of A Decrease In Milk Supply?

 

A baby crying at the breast can be deeply upsetting and frustrating for any mom. What should be a blissful event is shattered by the feelings of inadequacy and rejection. I know how heart-wrenching this can be, but take comfort, crying at the breast happens to almost every mom. It happens to moms with normal milk supply, moms with over supply and moms with low milk supply, so it’s not a good indicator of low milk supply. So what’s going on when a baby is crying at the breast?

Babies cry at the breast for usually one of three reasons: frustration with flow, discomfort, or they want something else entirely.

Baby Crying at the Breast Reason #1: Frustration with Flow

    • Delayed flow – Milk usually isn’t ready to squirt into baby’s mouth at the first suck. For most of us, nipple stimulation causes oxytocin to be released and that hormone causes the let-down reflex. This process can take up to a few minutes. Some babies are patient and don’t seem to mind waiting for the flow to start, others are not so patient. Impatient babies want the milk NOW and will complain bitterly if it doesn’t start flowing when they want. If your baby takes a bottle some of the time, they can get used to getting the milk immediately upon sucking, this can cause them to feel frustrated waiting for the let-down to happen. If you have an impatient baby or suspect you might have delayed flow, talk to your baby. Tell him, “It’s okay. The milk is coming. Stick with it.” When he pops off to complain keep encouraging him and put him back on. If baby is regularly frustrated at the beginning of your feedings while waiting for the let-down, you can try doing some manual nipple stimulation, or pumping for a few minutes to get the milk flowing before latching baby. Delayed flow can also happen in the middle of a nursing session when you are between let-downs or when the breast has been mostly emptied. If you suspect this, comfort your baby and encourage him to stay latched. You can try manually stimulating the other breast to help baby trigger your let-down reflex.
    • Slow flow – Breasts are never empty. Even after your baby exhausts the milk your breast has stored, your body will continue to make milk and deliver it to your baby while he’s sucking. But the flow of this milk can be very slow compared to the flow of banked-up milk. (Banked-up milk within the breast increases the internal pressure in the breast, which creates faster flow.) When milk is flowing slowly, baby may get frustrated and cry at the breast. After all, sucking is a lot of work and if he’s not being rewarded for that work, he’s going to complain to the manager.Slow milk flow during the first 10 minutes of a nursing session is a symptom of low milk supply. However, slow flow can also result from a poor latch. Poor latching results in poor milk withdrawal, which will cause the body to make less milk. Always ensure a proper latch.
    • Flow preference – This happens when babies are given bottles (either breast milk or formula), especially bottles with nipples faster than size zero or “newborn.” Like all humans, babies enjoy instant gratification. They get that with a bottle – milk flows at the first suck and doesn’t stop until the bottle is empty. It’s amazing! And it’s addictive.A baby who becomes “hooked” on the flow of a bottle, may begin crying at the breast. He doesn’t understand why at the breast there’s no milk flowing at the beginning then there’s flow, but then that slows down for a while, then more flow. It’s frustrating! Baby will arch, be fussy, scream or push at the breast and often a mom will see this as a sure sign that baby isn’t getting enough milk, when really he just wants faster flow. Clever babies will quickly train their mothers to give him a bottle after he “puts in his time” at the breast.It’s worth repeating: A baby will quickly train his mother. In no time, he’ll figure out that if he acts as though he’s not getting any milk at the breast and cries out in hunger after nursing, he’ll get a bottle. The more bottles he gets, the less interested he is in “fighting” the breast for milk flow.
    • Overactive letdowns – Sometimes babies cry at the breast because there’s too much flow. Milk comes so frequently that baby doesn’t get a break to literally catch his breath. (Remember: mom may or may not feel these letdowns.) This is often accompanied by coughing and sputtering. Baby might also pull off for a break and to complain that he feels like he’s drowning.
  • Too much flow – This is similar to overactive letdowns. Too much flow is a result of an over supply of milk. The letdown reflex cycles are normal, but when they happen baby is “drown” in a large release of milk and will often pop off, cough, sputter and cry. Both overactive letdowns, and oversupply are often accompanied by baby having green stools. To correct an over supply of milk, nurse baby on only one breast each feeding. Alternate breasts at each feeding. This will leave milk in the breasts long enough for the body to begin cutting production. Please do this only if baby’s weight gain is good and baby is producing 4 or more sopping wet diapers each day.

Baby Crying at the Breast Reason #2: Discomfort

Babies can feel discomfort while nursing and will cry at the breast to let you know. Sometimes it’s simple like needing to burp or change positions. For the first few months, my second child did not like nursing on the left side – it always made her uncomfortable to lay across my body, maybe it was a muscle imbalance or she needed an adjustment. I don’t know. But I always had to nurse her in the football hold – otherwise she would complain. By four months of age, she had grown out of it.

Sometimes teething can make it painful for baby to nurse and will cry at the breast because they want to nurse but their gums are sensitive and it is painful to breastfeed.

Another possibility is reflux disease. If your baby spits up a lot, he may have reflux. In some cases the reflux is so severe that baby begins to associate the burning in his throat with breastfeeding. He may not want to nurse and will cry at the breast because he knows the discomfort will follow. If you suspect this may be affecting your baby, seek medical advice from a professional. In the meantime, here’s some things to try: Nurse more frequently, but for a shorter time. The smaller the meal, the better. While nursing, keep baby’s head higher than his stomach. Keep baby upright for 25 minutes after every nursing. Burp baby really well and when you lay him down, always make sure it is on a gentle incline with his head higher than the rest of his body.

Baby Crying at the Breast Reason #3: Baby Wants Something Else

Sometimes a baby that’s crying at the breast simply wants to do something other than nurse. My second child would do this around bedtime. The first time it happened, she’d keep popping off the breast and crying. With my struggles with low milk supply, my thoughts immediately jumped to that she wasn’t getting enough milk, so I kept trying to put her on. She kept crying until I finally laid her in her crib, where she sighed, put her arms up over her head and went right to sleep.

Her fussiness was about her feeling really tired and wanting to go to bed! This behavior continued for several weeks and was a great sign to me that she was ready to be laid down for bedtime. So perhaps your baby isn’t uncomfortable or frustrated with milk flow. Perhaps your baby just wants to do something different. Try getting up and walking around and see if baby settles down. If he truly is hungry, he’ll continue to cry and you can try breastfeeding again.

Conclusion

These are the three common causes for a baby crying at the breast. And while it is worrisome and frustrating for the parents, by keeping these causes in mind you’re one step closer to figuring out the reason. Keep at it. You can do it!

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Low Milk Supply And Your Next Baby

Preparing For Your Next Baby When You Have Struggled With Low Milk Supply In The Past

If you have struggled with low milk supply with one or more previous babies, you probably know there is a good chance you might have low milk supply problems with your next baby. Rather than hope for the best, take maters into your own hands so that breastfeeding can get off to the best start possible. This article is all about what you can do to ensure breastfeeding success for your next child.

Before Baby Is Born

The first step is to review the 27 causes of low milk supply. If your low milk supply is caused by any of these, the fix can be fairly easy and quick. If hyperthyroidism was the cause, your doctor can treat it with medication throughout your pregnancy. If inverted nipples was the cause, you can use the Avent Niplette. Or if PCOS was the cause, your doctor can prescribe metformin.

There are many, many more causes of low milk supply and information about how to fix them is in the linked article above.

Next, if you took herbs to increase your milk supply with an earlier child, you should consider planting an herb garden of those herbs you took last time. The best herbs are often those you grow yourself because you have complete control over the soil, planting, fertilizing and harvesting. If you’re not due for 2 or more months, consider starting your own personal lactation herbal garden or if gardening is not your thing, order an herbal blend, such as Lactiful Supply Max, so it is on hand.

?Once you’re pregnant with your next child and have reviewed the causes of low milk supply and considered starting your own herb garden, it’s time to be proactive and take herbs that help prepare your milk supply. Here are the herbs that will get your supply off to the best start:

Alfalfa
Use: General milk increase
Contraindications: Lupus and other autoimmune disorders
Sources: Health food stores, online

Saw Palmetto
Use: Hormone balancing, increase breast tissue
Contraindications: None
Sources: Some health food stores, online

Goat’s Rue
Use: General milk increase, glandular tissue generation
Contraindications: Diabetics
Sources: Some health food stores, online

In the second and third trimesters take Alfalfa and Saw Palmetto:

Alfalfa – Take 1 tablet (500 Mg) three times a day with meals.
Saw Palmetto – Take 1 capsule (540 Mg) in the morning and 1 capsule at night.

In the third trimester also take Goat’s Rue.

Goat’s Rue – Take 1 capsule (500 mg) 4 times per day but with only a small amount of water (1 to 2 ounces). Additionally, avoid all liquids 20 minutes before and after each dose.

Next, prepare your home, your mind and your life for your new baby. Are there any home projects you should finish before baby arrives? Getting any projects done before baby arrives will give you more time to breastfeed the new baby. Preparing and freezing meals reduces stress and workload after baby arrives.

If you work, are you able to bank up hours at work and extend your maternity leave? Can you set up a work-from-home agreement with your employer and have more time to spend with baby?

If you have a pump, consider if you need to buy a new one. Often suction power decreases after a year of average use. If you don’t own a pump, perhaps now is a good time to purchase one.

Once you reach week 36 in your pregnancy, begin pumping once a day for 10 minutes (as long as this is okay with your health care provider). Each week add a new 10 minute pumping session. Spread out the sessions as much as you can. For instance in week 38 pump once in the morning and once at night. In week 39 pump morning, afternoon and night. Don’t worry if no milk is expressed during these pumping sessions. The purpose of this pre-birth pumping is not to generate milk but to stimulate the breasts and let them know it’s almost showtime. Early stimulation increases the number of breastfeeding hormone receptors that are established which sets your milk production ceiling or maximum milk production. We want your maximum milk production set as high as possible.

After Baby Is Born

Once baby is born breastfeed as soon as possible. Within 30 minutes is ideal, but it should be no more than an hour. Put this in your birth plan so your medical team knows your wishes.

Be sure to breastfeed every time baby cries and let no more than 3 hours pass from the start of one breastfeeding session to the start of the next. Treat 3 hours as the maximum allowed time between the start of one session and the start of the next, even if you have to wake baby. Better yet, aim to breastfeed every 2 to 2 and a half hours to better your chances of maximizing your milk supply. Continue this strategy until baby is at least 6 weeks old.

Every time you breastfeed be sure baby breastfeeds on both breasts. Alternate which side you start on with each nursing. Aim for 10 minutes of active nursing before switching to the other side. Tickle baby’s cheeks and toes to keep him alert and really actively nursing for a minimum of 10 minutes, then switch to the other side (if baby is still actively nursing continue to nurse on the same side until baby settles into comfort sucking – do not automatically switch at 10 minutes – that’s a minimum, not a maximum). See our article on not allowing a sleepy baby to leave milk in your breasts for tips to encourage a sleepy baby to breastfeed actively.

After each time you breastfeed, pump for 7 minutes on each side or until milk stops flowing.

On day four, begin taking your herbal supplement. You may wish to start with a lower than recommended dose and build up to a full dose over the course of a week so that you can gently ease your body into the herbs.

If you suffer from engorgement when your milk comes in do not use cabbage leaves to relieve the symptoms as this can also reduce your milk supply.

And finally, see our article index for many, many helpful articles about low milk supply, pumping and breastfeeding.

The good news is that breastfeeding and milk supply generally get better with each successive child. That coupled with these recommended preparations are sure to give you a much better breastfeeding experience with your new baby! Best of luck to you and your family and congratulations on your pregnancy!

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Reglan And Breastfeeding

Metoclopramide

(Brand names: Reglan, Maxeran, Metozolv ODT, Maxolon)

This drug is FDA approved to treat nausea and vomiting associated with conditions such as radiation poisoning, infection and migraine headaches. It used to be given to cancer patients experiencing nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy treatments but it has since been replaced by more effective medication.

How it works to increase breast milk in breastfeeding women: dopamine, a chemical in the brain, keeps prolactin (the milk-making hormone) levels in check by inhibiting the production of prolactin. Reglan inhibits dopamine. If dopamine is the bouncer keeping prolactin out of the party, Reglan is the tough guy who beats up the bouncer.

In studies where breastfeeding women do see a milk increase from Reglan they experienced an increase of 50 to 100 percent. (100 percent means a doubling of breast milk supply). But not all studies agree that Reglan provides any benefit. One study showed that breastfeeding women who received instruction on proper breastfeeding techniques and breastfeed every three hours had just as much breastfeeding success as women who received the same instructions and took Reglan.

Another study showed that breastfeeding women who continued to struggle with low milk supply after being taught proper nursing techniques who then took Reglan showed no increase in breast milk supply.

Additionally, if your prolactin levels are normal (a blood test from your doctor can determine this) taking Reglan will likely not provide any benefit. If your blood tests show low levels of prolactin, Reglan is an option but beware of the risks.

Risks of Reglan for Breastfeeding Women

  • Severe depression – Do not take Reglan if you are experiencing any symptoms of depression or have a personal or family history of depression. Please be extra careful because postpartum depression can sneak up on all of us. Reglan crosses the blood-brain barrier and can cause depression even in moms who feel fine. Symptoms of depression will go away once use is stopped. The longer Reglan is taken, the more likely the breastfeeding mother is to experience depression, so preferably it should not be taken for more than three weeks.
  • Present in breast milk – Reglan is present in breast milk but at a much lower concentration than what the mother experiences. Studies of the effect on breastfed infants mostly conclude that there are no side effects other than occasional gastrointestinal discomfort and slightly increased prolactin levels in the baby. However, The American Academy of Pediatrics considers Reglan use during breastfeeding to be of concern, citing the potential nervous system effects of the drug. And the manufacturer of the drug recommends caution to breastfeeding mothers.
  • Other possible side effects (for the mother) – nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, anxiety, drowsiness, fatigue, twitching and seizures.
  • Only temporarily increases breast milk production – If Reglan does increase milk supply, the effect is only experienced while taking the drug. Milk supply returns to prior levels after use is discontinued.

Since it should not be taken for more than 3 weeks and the results do not last, the risks far outweigh the benefits in this author’s opinion. There are plenty of horror stories to be found online about this drug so I would consider it a last resort. Instead, consider trying all-natural herbal options to increase breast milk supply.

However, if you are interested in this form of treatment, see your doctor for a blood test to check your prolactin levels. If your results show low prolactin, discuss the possibility of taking Reglan and always follow your doctor’s advice.