Got Milk?

When Cordy was born, I was determined to breastfeed. My daughter, however, wasn’t so interested in the idea. Our first two days in the hospital were filled with frustration, as I would try to get her to eat and she would resist. She would latch on at first, then realize she wasn’t getting much (it was still colostrum at that point), let go and scream. Repeat every half hour. Even the lactation consultant was no help.

Our third night in the hospital, the staff checked her blood sugar levels and told me her levels were low. Whether I wanted it or not, she was getting a bottle. The look on her little newborn face when offered the bottle was one of surprise and glee. After all, this was easy! The liquid just flowed into her mouth without any effort! It was at that point, I realized we had lost the battle, as my lazy child decided that the easy way was the way to go.

I continued to fight with breastfeeding for the next four months before giving up entirely. She would make a half-hearted attempt at breastfeeding, and then I would follow up with a bottle of formula or pumped milk afterwards. By the time I was back at work, she was mostly on formula.

With Mira, I hoped things would be different, and in many ways, they are. Thanks to the VBAC, she was able to breastfeed minutes after birth, and I was thrilled that she latched on like a pro. But when we got home, her appetite seemed to be endless, and I couldn’t keep up with her. We had to supplement, an act that gave me flashbacks of Cordy and her lazy eating. However, Mira doesn’t seem to care where it’s coming from, as long as there is food. She has no problem going back and forth between bottle and breast.

But I didn’t want to go down the formula route again. It’s expensive, it stinks, and it’s a pain to prepare. So after consulting with my doula and pediatrician (Mira isn’t gaining weight like she should, so the ped is involved now), I’m now trying to increase my milk supply to satisfy my bottomless pit.

What’s involved in this? Well, my pediatrician suggested beer to help with supply issues. I always thought that to be an old-wives tale, but she said she’s seen it work. OK, I can drink a beer. No problem.

Then there’s the herbal solution. An herb called Fenugreek can help increase supply. This is the herb used to flavor artificial maple syrup. Much like garlic, when you take large amounts of it, it has the not-so-pleasant side-effect of scenting your sweat and urine. Which means that my sweat now smells like maple syrup. And my breath smells like beer. All I need at this point is some cigarette smoke and you could have a truck stop IHOP sensory experience in my presence.

It seems to be working so far. I hope that my supply will catch up to her demand soon, because after dealing with a baby who wanted nothing to do with my breasts, it’s frustrating to see her so eager to breastfeed and worry I don’t have enough for her.

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Comments

  1. Christina, I am so thrilled for you that it’s going so much better this time and while I hear your concerns and fears, I hope you’ll forgive me for laughing while reading your post. You are so good at this – making these sorts of things so funny with your one-liners. The “IHOP sensory experience” comment literally made me laugh out loud. You are such a hoot!

    I wish you all kinds of good luck. I realize that our issues are probably different, but for me the best way to up supply is to let the baby nurse whenever she wants for however long she wants, and make sure that I drink TONS of water. When I think she’s taking it all out of me, I suck down a bottle of Gatorade and then drink some more water. Even now at a year old I have to do this. While she does eat lots of solid food and drink water and sometimes diluted apple juice, she also wants to nurse more when her teething gets the best of her. So I drink. And drink. And drink.

  2. I am glad that is is going better for you the second time around. Hopefully your supply will catch up.

    My husband called me Jimmy Dean when I was taking fenugreek. He dais I smelt like maple sausage. What a romantic guy he is. He is lucky I did not give him a hormonal punch in the nose.

  3. Misguided Mommy says:

    i love it…beer and maple syrup, thats great!

  4. flutter says:

    the homer simpson guide to breastfeeding! Who’d a thunk?

  5. Mm, I’m thinking that I would enjoy my sweat swelling like maple syrup! You could go without deodorant and perfume! ;)

  6. Major Bedhead says:

    You can also try oatmeal. Real, honest-to-god oatmeal, not the stuff in packets. That helps. There’s a Mother’s Milk tea that’s not horrible, either. I drank that a lot when I was nursing Boo.

    The other thing that helped me increase my supply was pumping after she was done nursing. It was a pain and I didn’t always get much, but it seemed to help increase my supply.

    And water. Make sure you’re drinking water. Maybe wash down the beer with a glass or two. It might kill some of the beer breath.

    What kind of beer are you drinking? I was told the darker, the better. Good thing I like Guinness.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Christina-
    I had similar problems that you are experiencing. In addition to the fenugreek, I also took blessed thistle. I ate quick oats, again not instant, at least once a day and, as mentioned, drank, drank, drank water. Stick with it… I am no longer supplementing; in fact, my five month old refuses the bottle now. He loves the breast! Have you tried power pumping(pump 10 minutes, wait 10, pump 10, wait 10, for one hour)? I found that to be very helpful, as well as pumping around the clock. Good luck and congrats on little Mira’s birth; she’s a doll!

  8. We had trouble with breastfeeding and I pumped for six months. It feels like such a battle to try to keep up (we did have to supplement with formula). I found having a beer helped, as well as drinking tons of water. I tried the fenugreek for a little while too, but I’m not sure how much it helped.

    Glad things are going better second time around!

  9. Jennifer Playgroupie says:

    Well, I guess there are worse things in life than smelling like beer and syrup!

    Hope all your tricks work! Beer certainly works for me!

  10. T with Honey says:

    Oh, yeah. I remember those times. Everywhere I went I had a bottle of water with me. Then after my daughter ate I would pump for 5 minutes. After 2 days of this my supply increased so I could stop the extra pumping but keep drinking the water.
    Another things that seemed to help was a daily hot shower to loosen things up there. Very theraputic!

  11. Amanda Cowan says:

    Oh my goodness! I remember the fenugreek and the maple syrup scent! I will be going on it right away this time myself. We pretty much have the same story from our first daughter..except that actually, she was also more than happy to go between breast and bottle..but by the time we fixed my latch (and months and months and months before discovering a thyroid issue) my supply had suffered too much for repair. This time we’re going into it whole-heartedly but with the knowledge that I’m not going to beat myself up about it. So if it works, great..if not, that okay too. I wish you the best! OH! And I think it’s the malt/hops in beer that does it. Another thing that is supposed to really help is oatmeal (in any form really..cookies, granola bars, etc. ). I have a great dense oatmeal cookie recipe if you would like me to email it.. Email me back and then I can send it your way. They have all kinds of healthy junk in them but actually they taste pretty good!

  12. Mommy off the Record says:

    Glad Mira is taking to breastfeeding like a pro! I’ve heard good things about Fenugreek. Good luck!

  13. Consider adding to the fenugreek regimen blessed thistle and those lucky Canadians amongst us can easily access motillium; I had mine imported, not too pricey, a little chancy at the border crossing – but very effective and fast, no pumping required – more info at Jack Newman’s site and also Kellymom’s site. In the mean time, enjoy your beer and pancakes! Yummy! btw, my mom’s rule about the beer was that it had to be imported beer. I have no idea why – her preference?

  14. Mrs. Chicky says:

    “All I need at this point is some cigarette smoke and you could have a truck stop IHOP sensory experience in my presence.”

    Ha! That line killed me!

    Good luck with the bf-ing.

  15. Now you’ve made me want a cigarette after that description!

    I believe dark beer is the beer that will work best. And pumping in between nursing sessions will help, too. That is, if you have the stamina for that.

    Hang in there! B-fing was hard for me, too.

  16. Genevieve says:

    Hang on in there! sounds like you’re doing very well.
    I had milk supply problems too, and we supplemented at first and were eventually able to stop that after a few months (it was complicated by the kiddo’s reflux).

    Here are some great resources:

    http://www.kellymom.com/bf/supply/low-supply.html

    http://www.kellymom.com/newman/b-protocol_increase_bmilk_intake.html

    http://lactinv.com/milksup.htm

  17. The Flip Flop Mamma! says:

    I’m so happy you’re trying different things and not giving up! Great for you! You can read my breastfeeding story (it’s long)on my blog’s sidebar. I’m hoping things will be different for me this time too. You’re giving me some hope!

  18. I have never heard of the beer remedy! My daughter also wanted to eat ALL THE TIME and acted like she wasn’t getting enough to eat. However, she REFUSED formula at any and all costs. That left me breast feeding basically around the clock for the first 4 or 5 weeks. Yeah, I had NO LIFE :)

    I have been told that women have a more plentiful milk supply for the second baby, so I’m hopeful. However, it didn’t seem to work for you, so who knows!

  19. Colleen (My Baby and More) says:

    Keep doing what you are doing – you are awesome Mama! In my experience – use the oatmeal; it really does help. Not so sure about the beer. . .

    Try to relax, be good to yourself. Take care of yourself and get a lot of rest. I know it seems impossible but it will help!

    Good luck honey!

  20. Her Bad Mother says:

    I found that beer – dark beer – totally worked. Guiness especially, but any dark beer would do the trick. I could actually feel myself let down after a dark beer.

    (LOVE the name Mira!)

  21. Pumpkin was the same way, she latched on perfectly, and then I lost all energy feeding her and could hardly do anything because she always wanted to eat. We went to formula afterwards and poor thing I messed her all up, we had to switch formulas a million times until we ended up with the most expensive kind on the market. It was terrible! Wished I would have been given the idea of beer. I sure could have used one at the moment.

  22. itchingtowrite says:

    hi! 1sttime here- thru top blogs…
    in india, they say arrowroot / sago – cooked like a porridge in milk. also lentils and certain varieties of sea fish & fresh water fish. my doc gave me lactation tablets to ensure supply does not fail… good luck.. btw, Mira is an Indian mythological name

  23. aimee / greeblemonkey says:

    good luck! I am glad it’s going well despite her voracious appetite!

  24. Good luck with the boobs.

    I am finishing my stint as the dairy cow for this lactation.

    I don’t know if you have a pump, but pumping between sessions will definitely raise your production, especially right now, so soon after the birth when your body is trying to regulate the supply.

  25. Happy Veggie says:

    I had to use a nippleshield and they had some out of date information and suggested pumping after I fed. I have a huge supply and an overactive let down, so it wasn’t needed, but if you suplement, make sure you pump as well to help with supply. Oh, and congrats to you and Aaron. :)

  26. MrsFortune says:

    Gah! Good lactation consultants are as hard to find as good hamburgers. Seriously. Just remember that it takes a while for supply to catch up with demand. Fenugreek always helped me, though. And that syrupy smell was a bonus ..

  27. I never had an ongoing problem with inadequate milk supply — just periodic issues during growth spurts.

    What worked for growth spurts was something I call switch nursing – not sure if that’s the common term or just mine.

    I’d switch the baby from side to side several times during a nursing session. That helps keep the baby at the breast longer so you get more stimulation and makes it easier for the baby to get the hind milk which can take more work, but is much higher in calories.

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