“I’m breastfeeding. Period.”
I must’ve really sounded resolute — or maybe my doctors got tired of my incessant calls to their clinics — but after a couple of months, they finally agreed to stop my medications so I could breastfeed my baby.
Ironically, my lactation consultants weren’t optimistic. I didn’t breastfeed for the first few months, and my attempts at pumping were futile. They said I practically had to “re-lactate” myself. I literally produced five teeny weeny tiny drops of milk after thirty minutes of pumping.
But I wasn’t the type to give up. And I’m glad I didn’t. I’m still not at the 750 to 1,000 ml recommended pump volume per day, but I’m almost there (650ml). And that’s a big feat for someone who had to “re-lactate.”
You know the usual disclaimer, that every woman is different, and what worked for me may not work for you, blah blah blah. But here’s what I did to increase my milk supply:
- A supportive husband. My husband was (and still is) the biggest reason why I was able to increase my milk supply. He made anything and everything possible. And more. When I was this close to shifting to formula, he was there to talk sense to me. He drove for me far and wide to pick up donated breastmilk. He would assist me tirelessly whenever I need to latch the baby. He would research on breastfeeding, give me tips, and encourage me every single day.
- A thick skin. I didn’t take offense whenever the baby would cry hysterically. I know it was because she couldn’t get enough milk from me. I would take a few deep breaths and tell her “Hey, we need to do this together.”
- Domperidone. I also took Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle, but I think it was the Domperidone which really helped me. I really wish I took this sooner. After 2 to 3 weeks of taking the medication, it gave me a noticeable jumpstart on my milk supply. Not miraculous, but very noticeable.
- Kelly Mom and Jack Newman. I devoured their articles like a dutiful disciple. These two websites were better than all the lactation consultants that I met combined.
- Perseverance. I didn’t give up. There were two incidents which drastically reduced my milk supply: 1) When I got sick, and 2) when the baby had a nursing strike. Each incident only lasted 3 to 5 days, but it was enough to reduce my milk supply by 75%. Yes, that much. It took a couple of weeks each time before I was able to reach my previous level.
- Pump pump pump. I make sure I have 2 pumping sessions in the morning, and another 3 sessions while I’m at work. I was told the ideal pumping session should last 15 minutes. Not for me though — most of my pumping sessions are between 20 to 30 mins. My letdown is just too slow to come in.
- Compression. While pumping, I press the breastshields against my breasts every few seconds.
- Breastfeed. I breastfeed as soon as I get home from work. Bottles are not allowed from 7pm to 6am. Ideally, I would also breastfeed in the morning, but I could never predict what time the baby would wake up or want to feed.
- Co-sleeping. The baby sleeps with us. If she wakes up in the middle of the night (usually twice), I change her diaper, offer her “the boobie,” and immediately go back to sleep while she feeds.
- Power pump. Although the general rule is to pump every 3 hours, there would be days when I would pump every 1 to 2 hours. This produced very good results in just 2 to 3 days.
Other things I took, but I’m not sure about their effectiveness:
- Fenugreek & Blessed Thistle
- Malunggay capsules
What I should’ve done but didn’t do:
- Take malunggay while I was still pregnant. I’m not sure if this would be effective, but it seemed to have worked wonders for one mom.
- Chose my breastfeeding group carefully. I would join various Facebook groups on breastfeeding, but they would all be filled with moms boasting about their milk supply, how wonderful their breastfeeding journey is, how their baby latched on instantly, etc.