One of the hardest things I have ever done in my life is breastfeed, and there are not many people that will own up to this fact but in actual fact it is hard work. Sure, I had several factors working against me all of which contributed to how hard I found it. Nevertheless, I was relentless and did everything you can to keep up that milk flowing because at the end of the day your antibodies will do a hundred times more than medication will ever do for your baby.
The following factors contributed to my milk production:
- I had a premature baby (32 weeks).
It is actually unnatural to have milk at the point at which I had my baby because your body creates it at around 37 weeks so mine was nowhere near ready.
- I was a first time mother.
Almost all first time mothers find it difficult to get the juices flowing as they say, and almost all of those won’t admit it. It is a known fact that if you have a boy it is even harder.
- My child was in NICU (hospital) and I was at home.
Your body subconsciously responds to having your child near you and milk is ‘let down’ or flows just by their cries or holding them. That attachment automatically helps create milk. But unfortunately I could not hold my baby because premature babies need minimal handling in NICU, they find it traumatic, so I had a relationship with the express machine instead of my baby. As you can imagine you cannot substitute a machine for a baby.
What I did to resolve it:
- Take Domperidone
This has no harmful effect on the baby and helps give the milk bit of a boost. Drs may not offer it initially but if they don’t, ask for it. Don’t suffer in silence because you don’t have to. It helps and many countries around the world like Singapore use it as a staple for new mothers.
- Take Fenugreek (Methi) tablets.
In many cultures they give women foods with Fenugreek in for 40days after the baby is born. It is a well known herb to increase breastmilk.
Your body produces the amount of milk your baby needs. Increasing the amount you feed by expressing in-between will trick your body into thinking your baby needs more milk and will therefore make more. Ideally you need to feed or express every 2-3hours including at least once between 12am – 6pm which are the hours your body makes the most milk. If you have the resources then double express, takes half the time and is twice as effective but single express works just fine too.
- Drink more.
Milk is made from water, you need to keep well hydrated. 1Litre of water per feed will prevent it from drying up.
- Decaf drinks.
See above. Caffeine dehydrates you and no water equals no milk.
- Spend time with your baby.
The closer your bond with your baby, the easier the milk will flow. Plus they are cute and no harm ever came from spending a bit of time with them.
Know that the best thing you can do for your baby is breastfeed, there are no two ways about it because the benefits are countless and immeasurable. Your body was created to know the needs of your baby. When your baby needs more milk, it will create more; when your baby is unwell, it will change consistency to have more concentrated antibodies to help fight off infection.
But more importantly do not despair, keep it up and take it from someone who knows, you are doing a great job wanting the best for your child. But equally if it just doesn’t happen then it is okay and give yourself a pat on the back because every drop of milk you gave your baby has given it a new start in life.