I recently posted a video clip of my subzero freezer that is completely full of breastmilk on my instagram stories (It's Carolina by the way). Immediately I had ten messages from women who wanted to know how I was able to store away so much and still continue to feed baby Rags. Here is a post for you ladies who are curious to know what I do, personally, to keep my supply high. Just bear in mind that I am not an expert and to consult with a lactation counselor before making any changes.
1) Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. I cannot stress this enough. A dehydrated body WILL produce less milk than a well hydrated one. Aim to drink at least 8 ounces during every feeding or pumping session (I probably average about double that to be honest). Get a nice reusable water bottle and keep drinking!
2) I know it is tempting to go on a diet to lose that "baby weight" that's lingering BUT just know that your body is wise and is holding on to an extra 5-10 pounds pretty much as long as you continue to breastfeed. This doesn't mean you haven't lost the extra weight you put on during your pregnancy; you have extra breast tissue, milk, and fat stores that are essential to your body producing an adequate amount of milk. Simply continue to feed your body nutritious whole foods. Every meal should contain protein, fat, fiber and complex carbs. If anyone is interested in recipes or snacks ideas we can put that in a separate post!
3) Let your baby nurse as much as possible. With my first baby I was told by our pediatrician to almost immediately put her on a 3-4 hour feeding schedule, which I did. We were both miserable; she was hungry and I wasn't able to build up a milk supply that was enough for her and breastfeeding became really challenging. I quit after three months with her and decided to do not take advice from our pediatrician when it came to breastfeeding. With my third baby I try to keep him with me as much as I can and I let him snack whenever he wants to. We often do at least one daily marathon feed where we spend a couple of hours in bed together (my preferred feeding method is side-lying) and he eats, falls asleep, wakes up to eat again, goes back to sleep, and eats again.
4) Pump after almost every feed the first few weeks. This will signal your body to keep producing more milk even after your baby is satisfied. It is a total pain but the rewards are huge. I would pump immediately after every feed for about 10-15 minutes. Once you have established a strong supply, you can go down to pumping only after the last night feed and after the first morning feed (I currently pump before I go to bed at 10pm and around 6:30/7am and keep the pumping sessions to 20 minutes). Get a handsfree pumping bra so you can tend to your baby, eat or do work at the same time. Disclaimer: Experts will tell you this will lead to an oversupply so don't do this unless you want to continue to pump and store milk.
5) The jury is out on this one but I am convinced these lactation bars increase my supply. I still am waiting for them to sponsor me! I eat one every morning during my morning pump session as I drink at least 20 ounces of water.
Breastfeeding is a commitment and it is a full-time job the first couple of months. Keep in mind that before you know it your child will graduate Pre-K and you will have no idea where the time went. Please ask for support when you need it and know that we are always here for you!