Guest Baby Tip: Increasing Breast Milk Supply
Nov 11 2007

I babble about business, babies, and parenthood on this blog, so those of you who come here to read my posts on entrepreneurship but do not have babies, please forward this post to your friends and family who do have babies. For those who have babies and dabble in business, these tips might be right up your alley.  If you have babies and have no interest in business, then send it on to the folks you know who are knee-deep in business and encourage them to have a baby! :-)

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Since there were so many views of my first baby tip on Increasing Milk Supply post, and I saw on Carole’s blog recently that she was dealing with the exact same issue, I asked her to write up a baby tip based on her experience for my readers.  Carole is one my faithful blog readers and a Baby Insights user.  She has 3 kids at home and blogs at Alias Tex.  She is an amazing person and an awesome Mom!  Thank you Carole for a great baby tip!

carole-and-christina-headshot-medium.JPG

I’ve nursed three babies and have had supply issues with all three.  I was not able to correct the issue with the first two, so I ended up supplementing with formula both times.  When I discovered that my supply was low the third time around, I decided to work with a lactation consultant.  I ended up supplementing with formula for about a month; in total, I think Christina ended up having about 2 1/2 cans of formula before my supply was enough to make it unnecessary.  Here are the things we tried, in the order in which we tried them:

- Pumping.  I pumped as often as I could, but at least 5 or 6 times a day, for at least 10 – 15 minutes each time. (The pumping was in conjunction with all of the other things I was doing — I’ve heard that for some women, pumping alone can help, but I wasn’t one of them.)

- Herbs.  I took fenugreek, blessed thistle, and alfalfa — the highest dose of each that I could find at Whole Foods — two or three of each, three times a day.  (This did increase my supply some, but not enough that I could stop supplementing.)

- Domperidone* — I take 20mg capsules.  I started out taking five of them a day, then — once my supply was established — dropped down to four.  I tried cutting back to three and discovered that that was too low to maintain my supply, so I rented a pump for a week and jumped back up to five pills a day again.  Now, I’m down to four capsules a day, and I have enough milk that Christina only nurses one side at a time — and doesn’t usually even empty that one!  (I don’t like having quite that much extra milk, so now every couple of days I’ll take only three capsules — it seems to be working out….)

- Oxytocin nasal spray** — 1OU/ML.  (1 spray in each nostril, 2 – 3 minutes before nursing.)  In addition to my supply issues, I’ve had problems with my letdown reflex.  Sometimes it worked just fine, but it was not uncommon for me to nurse her for 45 minutes or more without having a letdown!  I also tended to have them at random times throughout the day/night, and then I couldn’t have another one for at least an hour, so I had to try to nurse her whether she seemed hungry or not!  The nasal spray has changed all of that:  if I don’t have a letdown when Christina starts nursing, I use my nasal spray and I have a letdown within a couple of minutes.  The only times it hasn’t worked are when I was experimenting, trying to see if I could do just one nostril, or use a drop instead of a spray.  (It does work as drops, but I have to do a couple in each side, not just one.)

Now that I have it all under control, my days of sobbing in frustration seem like a bad dream — it almost makes me want to have another, just so I can see what it’s like to get it right from the start!  Imagine:  me, with a baby who has never tasted formula….  It could happen!  : )

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*Some of you may know that the FDA issued a warning about Domperidone several years ago. (On the same day that the National Breastfeeding Campaign was to begin!)  It’s actually a stomach medicine, and was prescribed off-label for breastfeeding mothers.  Because of the FDA’s warning, it’s no longer possible to just walk into a pharmacy and get a prescription for Domperidone; you have to go to a compounding pharmacy to get it, and even some of those are afraid of FDA reprisals if they fill the prescriptions.  Fortunately, for those of us who need it to maintain a normal milk supply, there are still doctors and midwives willing to prescribe it for us, and some compounding pharmacies who will still make it.

Domperidone is widely considered a safe drug when administered orally, and is approved by the AAP for use in breastfeeding mothers.  Many were outraged when the FDA issued its warning — especially since the cases it cites in the warning were decades old. 

Official statements from prominent physicians can be found here.

A very good summary of the controversy can be found here, and many more links here.

Side effects of Domperidone.

Side effects of Reglan, another stomach medication that can increase milk supply, which has no warnings issued against it — even though it is NOT approved by the AAP for use in breastfeeding mothers!

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**I also get my Oxytocin nasal spray from a compounding pharmacy.

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Note to new readers: these tips are based on our experiences, as well as those of our friends and readers. Please always consult with your doctor before implementing any tip that might impact the health of your baby. If you have a tip you’d like to submit please send an email to blogger at babblesoft dot com for possible inclusion. Please check the ‘baby tips’ category to make sure your tip (in some form or fashion) hasn’t already been posted. If it has been, feel free to comment on that post and support the tip. We also welcome respectful challenges to the tips because as is noted in our inaugural baby tip ‘everything is relative!’ We will, of course, give anyone who submits a tip we publish credit and a link back to their site!

Author: | Filed under: baby tips, breast milk, breastfeeding, breastfeeding schedule, mom, mother, nursing, pumping, user stories, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

7 Comments on “Guest Baby Tip: Increasing Breast Milk Supply”

  1. 1 sk-rt.com said at 9:51 AM on November 13th, 2007:

    Increasing Breast Milk Supply

    This is a great article by a mom about her experiences with breastfeeding 3 kids. She discusses ways to effectively increase milk supply.

  2. 2 7 Tips for Successful Breastfeeding | entrepreMusings said at 3:04 PM on April 26th, 2008:

    [...] Increasing Breast Milk Supply by Carole Hayes at Alias Tex [...]

  3. 3 compound pharmacy said at 10:31 PM on May 27th, 2008:

    Really, it doesnt matter if the hormones are synthetic or not. hormones are basically signals to cells telling them that they should do something. think of it like a key starting a car- the hormone is the key. it doesnt matter if the key is a copy or the original, all that matters is how it interacts with the car- whether or not it starts it. or in the case of hormones, how it interacts with your body, which should be the same way as a natural hormone. and yes they do increase your risk of breast cancer somewhat, theres been a lot of stuff in the news lately about how breast cancer rates are dropping for the first time because doctors have been cutting back on hormone replacement. id talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits further if you have concerns or worries about it.

  4. 4 Asha said at 10:47 PM on October 10th, 2008:

    I read in a forum that a product called Sacred tea for nursing mothers or something like that, to increase breast milk supply. Has any one hear about this product? is this true? I’m a mother having difficulties with my milk supply and doing some search I found that out. Is this true? Is there any “natural” product to increase breast milk supply? if any one knows please contact me as I’m desperated!

    A concerned Mom of twins

  5. 5 Aruni said at 5:14 PM on October 11th, 2008:

    @Asha – Carole, who wrote this post, had this comment to share with you. She was having trouble posting this morning so I’m posting it for her:

    Twin Mom: If you’re having problems with your supply, I would highly recommend talking to either a lactation consultant or a La Leche League leader—either one should have experience in this area and be able to help you. In the meantime, please check out this page for some more info: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/supply/low-supply.html I, personally, have not used Sacred Tea, and herbs didn’t help me much, but either may be enough for you—it’s definitely worth trying, anyway! Also, I’ve heard that oatmeal helps some people: have a bowl for breakfast, and make some oatmeal snack bars during the day. Hang in there!

  6. 6 lynn said at 1:26 PM on January 15th, 2009:

    I had trouble with my first child and I exculsivly pumped for 7 months (she wouldnt latch and got used to the bottle)To help with milk supply I used domperidone and blessed thistle and fenugreek. one tip is that for fenugreek to work properly you should smell it on your skin and your pee it smells just like maple syrup. sounds wierd but made quite a difference for me when I finally was taking enough. The key is finding the right dose. also pump pump pump ( a good pump and a relaxing spot are good things too) I wish all those luck with milk suply issues. Its tough but you just do what you can!

  7. 7 Aruni said at 8:40 PM on January 17th, 2009:

    Great advice. I used fenugreek too…mostly in the curries my mom cooked for me when she was here.