Going back to work can be tough for any new mom and pumping in the workplace can make the transition even harder. Not only can it be difficult to work around your new schedule, running to a vacant office (if your lucky) in between meetings, but it can also affect your milk supply.
My first week back to work trying to adjust to my new schedule and fitting in feedings was tough. Without Rylee around to remind me to feed her, I kept forgetting to pump. And as the week went on, I felt as though my production was reducing.
I have heard people say that just the sound of your baby’s cry can make your body respond to her needs, so I was getting concerned about whether I was producing enough food for her while I was away.
Through reading articles on websites and forums, I learned that many other women have experienced the same thing.
One thing that I found interesting, was that it is quite common for someone to produce less milk while pumping that your child would receive during a feeding. Their suction is stronger than that of the pump and so they are able to get more milk during that time.
As I continued researching how to increase my milk supply, I came across a variety of suggestions, from foods to atmosphere and beyond. So I decided I would share some of the ones I would like to try to see if they will help me in any way.
Foods (and drink):
Water. The first thing I found was that dehydration can be a huge factor in the reduction of breast milk production. It makes perfect sense that you need to drink more water when your breastfeeding because of all the liquid that you have to release to feed another being.
I knew that I was a serious offender of this. I could feel myself throughout the day craving water and thinking to myself that I needed to drink way more. I created a new goal for myself of 100 oz. a day. My Winnie Palmer Hospital water jug that I love is a great help for me to track this!
During work it is getting easier for me to remember to drink, but I need to start being more conscious of how much I consume over the weekend.
Oatmeal. I also read that eating oatmeal is a great way to increase your milk supply. Since it has so many health benefits, I thought that this could be pretty legit. This is something I can definitely start to incorporate into my diet and have already started bringing instant oatmeal packets into work to eat for breakfast.
Carrots. Carrots are full of beta-carotene, which just happens to be in extra demand when you’re lactating. I am not sure if this helps any in terms of producing more milk, but according to some studies, it will increase the amount of beta-carotene concentrated breast-milk that you produce, which can be beneficial to nursing moms and their babies. I thought that it would be worth listing because I enjoy munching on carrots and celery dipped in hummus, so it wouldn’t hurt to incorporate it more in case it helps.
Fennel. Fennel is known to be a galactagogue, which is a substance that aids in the production of breast milk. If you like the taste of licorice, this veggie may be for you, but unfortunately I am not a huge fan. Fennel seed is in a seasoning mix that I enjoy, though!
Nuts. Cashews, almonds, and macadamia nuts are a few examples of nuts that I found can help your milk supply. Nuts always seem to be on the “Good For You” list and a great snack, so I could see myself giving this a try to see if it will help. Plus, I do love white chocolate macadamia nut cookies…
Atmosphere and Mental Preparation:
Positioning and Environment. I read that your position during pumping could have an affect on your production. If your body is tense, then it could give off negative cues to your body to produce, so sitting back in your chair instead of hunching over could put your body more at ease. If it is hard for you to relax, playing some music or drinking some calming tea may also help.
Baby Cues. I found this one very interesting. Like I mentioned before, there is something about being away from your child that affects your milk production. So, bringing some cues to help you think about your baby during your pump sessions could also help. Photos, clothing, and even a tape of your baby’s hungry cries are some examples of Baby Cues.
Now, these things were also included in some lists that I came across, so I had to look into them a little more to find out if they were true. I decided to put them under the “myth” category.
Lactation Cookies. Although I found tons of recipes online for these things, I can’t be sure I found a source that confirmed their ability to assist in the production of breast milk. Everyone is different though and it seemed to work for some so why not, right?
If you want to give it a try, here is the recipe that I found online:
1 cup of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons of flax seed meal (don’t skip this step, and no substitutions!)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
3 cups of steel cut oats
1 cup of chocolate chips
4 tablespoons of brewer’s yeast
1 Preheat oven to 350°.
2 Mix the flaxseed meal and water and let sit for 3-5 minutes.
3 Cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar.
4 Add eggs and mix well.
5 Add flaxseed mix and vanilla, mix well.
6 Sift together flour, brewer’s yeast, baking soda, and salt.
7 Add dry ingredients to butter mix.
8 Thoroughly stir in oats and chocolate chips.
9 Scoop onto baking sheet, approximately 1” balls.
10 Bake for 12 minutes.
11 Allow cookies to set for a few minutes before removing from tray.
When I read this one, I knew I had to do more research. Cause who wouldn’t want to drink beer for health reasons! As many testimonials that I read that mom’s posted on how it “really worked for them” I couldn’t fully believe that it was the beer that was working.
It came down to the final article that I read on kellymom.com that had me believing this was a myth. In this link she states:
“Alcohol does not increase milk production. In fact, babies nurse more frequently but take in less milk in the 3-4 hours after mom has had a drink, and one study showed a 23% decrease in milk volume with one drink (Mennella & Beauchamp 1991, 1993; Mennella 1997, 1999).”
So, unfortunately, I had to scratch that one.
Fenugreek. Fenugreek is an herb that is known to be a natural galactagogue. I was recommended this my a friend of mine who’s pediatrician told her about it when she was going back to work. And at the same time, we found out that we have the same pediatrician! She swore by the supplement and said that it really worked for her. All the research that I found on this herb was positive. I recently purchased a bottle to give it a try, so hopefully it will help!
As much as I have read, researched and asked for advice, the most important thing that I have learned is to not give up. You may get frustrated at the amount you produce when you go back to work, but any little bit is still beneficial to your baby and your doing a wonderful job for continuing to breast feed.
Just know that there are different methods and theories out there that can aid with the production of milk. Hopefully some of these things will help me and anyone else out there looking for help.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a licensed health professional. Most of the information in this post was found from the sources listed below.
Please contact your doctor or lactation consultant before making any changes to your diet.