My breastfeeding tips

Let's talk about milk, baby...

Breast milk, that is. Keeping up a healthy supply for your baby is not always easy, but the good news is that there are many things you can do to naturally boost your supply.

I'm currently exclusively breastfeeding my six month old son.He's my third child, and I breastfed my other babies until 12 months first time around and 14 months with number two. I've had to pick up a few tricks in the process and thought I'd share what worked for me, because you never know, someone out there may find this useful too!

It matters what you eat, and when you eat it.

This is so true. The first three months of a babies life earth side is known by many as the fourth trimester.It's called this because of the development that is still going on, and a lot of that is happening in the digestive system. As a result, a wee baby cannot handle some things as well as other things. For example, if you've ever had quite garlicky, or anything spicy, you probably would've known it by how your baby reacted.When my first son was a few weeks old I was handed a plate of food at a bbq, and had bitten into something spicy. While I would've only had one mouthful of this, my baby could not handle it, he had the hiccups and an episode of colic which he had never had before.

I found with each baby for the first three months I had to avoid the usual suspects like onion, garlic, chilli, but what I also found was that there were a lot of other, seemingly harmless things that I had to avoid too. These may sound strange, but I had to avoid, brassica, potatoes, beans, and anything that was too starchy, too fibrousy or too gassy like your caulis, broccoli, kale etc.

When my second son was born, we employed the skills and knowledge of a well known baby whisperer. This particular guru had spent time nannying all around the world, and prepared meals for families including breast feeding mothers and had noticed the effects of certain foods through breast milk. I was used to avoiding the obvious very strongly flavoured things, but it wasn't until I met her and she told me of some other things that she'd observed causing issues with colic etc in babies, so I took on her advice and noticed that these things made a difference for me too! Not just a little difference, quite a big difference.My second son was quite a spilly baby, but once I tweaked a few things in my diet this significantly reduced. So if you're having colic type symptoms, or your baby is hard to settle, make a diary of what you eat so you can see what it is that is likely to have caused the problem.I've found that by around 3 months I can eat most things again, even vegetable juices with kale which had been an avoid type thing during those early months. By 5 months I can pretty much eat anything again.Yay!

It doesn't just matter what you eat, it can matter when you eat it as well. Your milk is naturally higher in fat in the morning, probably from not feeding so much in the night. This is why some babies often cluster feed in the afternoon, because the milk is lower in fat so it is not satisfying them as much as the milk earlier in the day. To boost your afternoon milk supply, it is great to consciously have protein at lunch time. With three little boys to take care of, I don't always get to sit down and have a lunch, so I prefer to get my protein from hemp powder and put it in a smoothie.

It also matters what you drink! Make sure you're drinking enough water, you need to be hydrated sufficiently to breastfeed, and check the quality of your water. If you drink tea and coffee, try and limit your caffeine intake, switch up your coffee for a matcha latte, or herbal tea (are you nuts? No coffee?! I haven't drunk any coffee in 18 months or so, but understand that some days you feel like you just need it. I'm not saying cut it entirely, just be conscious about how much you're drinking and try to reduce it if possible).

Some other things to boost your supply include;

Breastfeeding tea – depending on the blend, you will usually find herbs containing galactogogues which encourage the supply of milk. This tea is also known to help with getting great nourishment through to your baby. I love the Artemis breastfeeding tea and the yogi nursing support tea.I usually make a pot on the daily and drink it throughout the day. I'm a big herbal tea drinker and I don't mind it cold so this suits me fine.

Lactation cookies – you'll find lots of recipes for these online.As well as promoting lactation they also taste delicious! Check out Katie in the kitchen, she does a delightful cookie.

Brewers yeast – you'll find this at your local health store. Not to be confused with nutritional yeast!Brewers yeast is very effective, I've found when I'm feeling low in supply I'll take a teaspoon of this in some water, or add it to your smoothie, and this helps boost the supply.

Pulsatilla – this is a homeopathic remedy and is great for a whole raft of things, including hormonal.I've taken this for low supply before and it really does help.

Shandy – my Mum told me about this one. When my first baby was young, and I was exhausted and low in milk she came up and took him out for a walk in the pram and told me to have a soak in the bath and have a shandy. As well as being really relaxing, the yeast and sugar in the drink helped amp up my milk! If you have candida issues I'd stay away from the shandy and brewers yeast though!

Wholefoods – Just Eat Real Food #jerf.I would assume it would go without saying that it's best to avoid highly refined, artificial, or processed foods, but I'll say it anyway – cut the crap! Sure we all indulge a little here and there, but having things with chemicals in them regularly is not good for you or your little baby. Hard to provide nourishment to sustain life when what you're eating is devoid of nutrients.

Pumping – although this can be arduous (and near impossible with three kids!) pumping can actually boost your milk supply.My midwife advised me when my first son was very young that if I wanted to boost my supply so that I had enough to start trying to bottle feed him breast milk that I pump at roughly the same time every morning and by the third day I should have enough. This was definitely true for me. And a huge relief – he was a nightmare sleeper, and how much of a shock to the system is a baby first time around! With him I pumped so that my husband could do one of the night feeds so I could get more than three hours sleep. The good news is that sleep deprivation is nowhere near as bad second time around and not nearly as noticeable third time around!

Light exercise – sometimes this might be the very last thing on your mind. I totally get it.If you can, doing exercises that stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system like yoga, pilates, tai chi etc are great for your energy and also your milk supply.

Body work – such as Cranial/Sacral osteopathy.Personally after each baby I've always had a session or sessions with an osteo, and so has my baby. Growing a child is hard work and your body will no doubt need a bit of realigning after that time.If your spine is out of alignment, your whole system can feel as if it's stressed, and when your body is stressed it cannot produce much milk.I remember studying Psychology at Uni and learning about the impacts of stress on the body. There was an incredible study which had Mothers breastfeeding their babies, and were then shown an image which made them feel stressed, and their milk was monitored. When the stress was there, no milk came out. So reducing the stress on your body can also help with boosting your supply.

As I said, these are all things that I've found have worked for me. They may or may not work for you. And that's cool.If you've tried some other things that have worked, please do let me know!I'm planning on breastfeeding for at least another 6 months so will have plenty of time to try them!

Yours in Health,

The HH


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