Seven Points To Know About Breastmilk Supply Issues

By Jessica Martin-Weber

This post is generously made possible by Bamboobies

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For the most part, if you decide to breastfeed, the experience will be: have boobs, feed baby. A process that has worked long enough to get us to this point in civilization, as mammals, generally speaking we will produce enough milk for our young. If everything is working normally, our breasts are going to make the milk our babies need. Lactating after giving birth is, for our species, normal, like breathing.

Which is well and good. But for as normal as it all may be sometimes there are issues with breathing and sometimes there are issues with lactation. Sometimes those issues are related to milk supply.

Before you worry about it or before you tell someone else to worry about it or not to worry about it, there are a few things that may be helpful to know. This is all just the tip of the iceberg, we’ll have more on this topic in the future but for now this is just a quick overview of breastmilk supply issues and not intended to be health care or replace medical care. If you are experiencing any problems with your supply, please see your healthcare provider and an experienced, professional skilled breastfeeding helper.

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1. Supply issues are real. Though biologically speaking it is normal to produce milk for our young, the fact is some will experience issues with supply. While they aren’t as common as it may seem, supply issues aren’t made up, they really do happen. Dismissing the concerns about supply can actually cause more supply problems as it may lead to feelings of isolation, failure, pain, grief, anger, and depression. If someone is concerned about their breastmilk supply, getting help is the right thing to do. They may discover that there is no evidence of supply issues and they can let go of their worry or they may find there is in fact a problem and take steps to address it to adequately care for their child(ren).

2. There is more than one type of supply issue. Often when talking about supply issues people assume it is low supply or not producing enough milk. Low supply is indeed a very concerning issue but it isn’t the only supply issue that may be experienced. Pumping supply, oversupply, and temporary supply issues (ovulation/period, illness, pregnancy, separation, etc.) are other supply issues that may present challenges for breastfeeding families. From poor weight gain to recurring mastitis to not reaching breastfeeding goals, the effects of supply issues cover a wide range and all of them matter.

3. Don’t borrow supply issue trouble. Yes, supply issues are real but before stressing about or trying to fix a supply issue, it is important to know if there is one (see related: Help, My Milk Supply Is Low, Or Is It?). This can be difficult to do if we don’t understand normal human lactation or normal baby behavior. For example, if you heard that I was pumping up to 24 ounce every pumping session at one point and you pumped 1-4 ounces in a session, you may think you have low supply (tip: this wouldn’t mean you have low supply- this means I had oversupply, one I manufactured to pump enough to skim the fat off to feed my very sick baby with two holes in her heart). Or if you found that your baby was extremely fussy and wanting to breastfeed every 30 minutes suddenly and you didn’t know what cluster feeding was and that it was common for babies to increase their feeding sessions during times of rapid growth, you may fear that your breasts suddenly weren’t making enough milk. Understanding the range of normal in human lactation is crucial!

4. There are multiple reasons for supply issues. Physiologically speaking, most breasts should have everything necessary to make plenty of milk (statistically less than 2% of breasts are equipped for adequate milk production) though there are some theories that this number is increasing. But a lack of milk making tissue isn’t the only cause of low supply. Other reasons for low supply include, but are not limited to, fluids in labor, tongue tie (frenulum restriction), high palate, hormone imbalance, diabetes, gut health, scheduled feedings, retained placenta, excessive pumping, ineffective sucking, health issues, some medication, early sleeping through the night, and the list goes on.

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5. Supply issues can create other issues. Yes, even perceived supply issues can create other issues. Confirmed supply issues even more so. Postpartum depression, anxiety, mastitis, gas, poor weight gain, breast tissue damage, unwanted and unnecessary supplementing, early weaning from the breast, etc. Those encountering issues with supply need more support and care on both a social level and from health care professionals.

6. Supply issues aren’t all doom and gloom. For starters, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing when it comes to feeding our babies. There are ways to address supply issues including methods to boost supply, supplement at the breast, train baby to suck more effectively, and reducing oversupply. Identifying the type of supply issue, the cause, and then the most effective methods for improving the supply issue (i.e. skin-to-skin helps low supply, decreasing pumping duration and frequency helps oversupply, hands-on-breast compressions and proper flange sizes can help pumping low supply, and magnesium can help temporary low supply caused by fertility cycles) along with supplementing techniques to encourage breastfeeding (i.e. paced feeding and at the breast supplementing) may all work together to turn things around.

7. There is support for supply issues. I often hear from breastfeeders with supply issues that they feel broken and alone. Supply issues can directly impact a parent’s confidence, causing them to question their competency in parenting when the most elemental aspect of parenting, feeding the child, is so difficult and overwhelming for them. While it can feel lonely when you’re dealing with supply issues, we don’t have to be alone. From social media groups to in person breastfeeding support groups to specialized breastfeeding helpers in the healthcare field, there is support for those experiencing supply issues. Working with a breastfeeding helper such as an IBCLC may help resolve the issue more quickly.

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Jessica Martin-Weber

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, and creator and author of the children’s book and community of What Love Tastes Like, supporter of A Girl With A View, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 19 years and is currently writing her first creative non-fiction book.

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Oatmeal Stout Crockpot Coffee Cake- Lactation Booster!

by Carrie Saum

Summer is here.  And maybe your new little baby is here, too.  Snuggly and warm.

Oh, so warm.

Almost suffocatingly hot.

Dear God, is that a baby or a furnace you’re holding?  The temperature outside is a stifiling 100+ degrees and holding that little fireball while also living on the approximate surface of the sun might be a bit much for you.

But you want cake.

Except it’s summer and who has the time or energy or heat capacity to use an oven?

But you still want cake.

Enter your new BFF – The CrockPot.

Yep.  Make your cake IN THE SLOWCOOKER.

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There is no need to turn your house into an incinerator while taking care of  your miniature lava ball on top of the erupting volcano we call Earth just to have a tasty and relatively healthy treat.

This recipe utilizes the amazing benefits of oats (with milk-boosting powers!), lowers the glycemic index with the use of coconut palm sugar, and gives you the fun milk-boosting benefit of stout beer without actually consuming it.  Plus, after baking it for several hours in a large pot, a majority of the alcohol dissipates so you don’t have to worry about you (or your other kiddos) getting a buzz when eating it.  All of this, just by using your crockpot.

Now, to be clear, this is a dense cake.  It’s almost more of a bread. Should we call it a cake bread?  Either way, it’s satisfying and just perfectly sweet.  You can add chopped up apples or nuts if you want to give it more texture.  I prefer to top my crockpot cake with a bit of homemade whipped cream, sweetened slightly with honey.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups oat flour (You can make your own using old fashioned oats and your food processor or blender, which is the easiest and cheapest, IMO.)
  • 1.5 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca flour or arrow root powder (or wheat flour but it won’t be as milk boosting)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups stout beer (like Guiness)
  • 1/3 cup oil or melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp honey (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
  2. In a smaller bowl, combine all wet ingredients and blend thoroughly.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until it begins to thicken.
  4. Pour batter into very well-greased or parchment paper lined crockpot. (I recommend parchment paper if you have a dark-colored crock.)
  5. Place kitchen towel over the top of the crockpot, and pull tight and flat.  Secure towel with the lid. (This will keep moisture from gathering and dripping onto your cake!)
  6. Cook on low for 3.5 hours.
  7. Once you can stick a knife into the cake and it comes out clean, it’s done!  Remove pot from heat source, and allow to cool for 30 minutes before eating.

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The best way to store this is pre-cut in storage containers.  Once completely cool, you can slice it and use parchment or wax paper to separate the layers inside the container.  It’s easy to grab on the go, and you aren’t using up that valuable crockpot or counter space to store.  It refrigerates well, and also freezes well.  You can eat it in the morning with your yummy lactation tea, or as a late-night nursing snack while you cuddle your tiny newborn/thermal nuclear reactor.

What’s in your CrockPot?

Carrie

*Note: It’s important to point out that most women aren’t going to need to eat food with the intention of upping their milk supply, if everything is working the way it is supposed to, your baby will know how to up your supply just fine themselves. Skin-to-skin and feeding on demand are the best ways to increase breastmilk supply to meet your baby’s needs. (Concerned you have low supply? Read this to help figure out if it is something you need to be concerned about.) For those women, galactalogues just happen and they don’t need to think about it. But some women, like me, do need a boost. As a mom who ended up exclusively pumping and indeed having low supply such that I ended up on medication solely to increase my milk production, I know what it’s like to look for anything, anything at all that would help my body make even just a little more milk to help feed my baby. With the support of my health care providers, we tried everything. It becomes “I will eat all the cookies, I will drink all the shakes, I will eat all the parfaits!” if it even just makes me feel like I’m doing something to address the low supply struggle, it is worth it.

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If you like this recipe, check out this Kale Waldorf Salad or Roasted Cauliflower Soup over on Our Stable Table.

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IMG_2895Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields. With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.
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Motherlove Herbal Company More Milk Two Giveaway

As part of our live chat on our Facebook wall today sponsored by Motherlove Herbal Comany and featuring guest expert Amber McCann, IBCLC from Nourish Breastfeeding Support, I’m delighted to bring you a giveaway of Motherlove Herbal Company’s More Milk Two for 3 lucky, randomly selected winners.  From their site:

A specially formulated, alcohol-free liquid herbal extract that safely increases breast milk for pregnant breastfeeding mothers. Made with nourishing certified organic herbs that support lactation and pregnancy.  Safe for use during pregnancy. 

To be entered, simply leave a comment on this post.  Please head over to Motherlove’s Facebook page and thank them for this opportunity and for sponsoring today’s chat.  This giveaway will be open until 5pm EST.  Good luck and have fun!

This giveaway is now closed and the 3 randomly selected winners notified.

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Fairhaven Health Nursing Blend Giveaway

Today we have a giveaway from Fairhaven Health.  Read on for details on this opportunity and an interview with the company including their favorite breastfeeding tip.  Kelly was happy to answer my questions about the company and the why and how they got into breastfeeding related products.  Fairhaven has chosen to sponsor TLB because of their commitment to healthy families.

TLB:  What should TLB readers know about Fairhaven Health?

Fairhaven Health:  Our mission at Fairhaven Health is to help couples create and maintain healthy families. From preconception through pregnancy and nursing, Fairhaven Health is there – every step of the way – to provide clinically-proven products designed to safely and naturally promote fertility, pregnancy, and breastfeeding wellness. As a trusted leader in this field, our products are cooperatively developed and formulated by a diverse panel of medical experts – including doctors, ObGyns, nutritionists, and naturopaths.

What motivates each of us here at Fairhaven Health to roll out of bed each morning and come to work is the amazing feedback we hear from our customers. Nothing starts a day better (with the exception of a large cup of coffee) than hearing from a new mom that she is now breastfeeding successfully after struggling to get her milk flowing. Click here to hear what some of our customers are saying about Fairhaven Health’s Nursing Blend.

http://youtu.be/XdYl8JtXy2Q

Watch Chianta’s video review of Nursing Blend! 

TLB:  How did Fairhaven Health get started and what led to expanding to breastfeeding related products?

Fairhaven Health:  Fairhaven Health was started in 2003 to provide natural alternatives to couples struggling with fertility issues. The expansion into pregnancy and breastfeeding related products happened quite naturally, actually. As couples successfully conceived using our fertility related products, they began asking us to develop products for pregnancy and breastfeeding wellness, knowing that we could be trusted to provide high-quality options.

To build our line of breastfeeding products, we teamed up with internationally recognized lactation expert and breastfeeding advocate, Dr. Kathleen Marinelli. Dr. Marinelli is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, and is a neonatologist and Director of Lactation Support Services at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, CT. In her role as a neonatologist, she has worked tirelessly to make sure that all babies in her NICU receive human milk, and is a staunch supporter of breast milk donor banks. At Fairhaven Health, we continue to be inspired by Dr. Marinelli’s commitment to making sure all babies receive human milk.

TLB:  What is your favorite breastfeeding tip?

Fairhaven Health:  Seek out the support you need! Just because breastfeeding is the normal way to feed our children, does not necessarily mean that it is always easy. With formula companies lurking around every corner waiting to pounce on discouraged moms, breastfeeding women need support from family, friends, health care professionals, and (perhaps most importantly) other nursing women, especially when the inevitable struggles arise . . . latch issues, supply problems, fussy/colicky babies, mastitis, etc. At Fairhaven Health, we believe that all of these “struggles” can be overcome, and we are heartbroken to hear when a nursing mom stops nursing before she is really ready to stop, simply because she doesn’t know where to turn for help and information. There is a community of breastfeeding love out there (props to The Leaky Boob), so don’t be shy about jumping in!

This giveaway is for a 3 month supply of Nursing Blend for two lucky winners, which represents a retail value of $53.95 each.   Nursing Blend was formulated to meet the specific nutritional needs of nursing mothers and their babies and to aid in milk production. In addition to comprehensive vitamin and mineral support, Nursing Blend contains a blend of herbal galactogogues, including fenugreek and fennel seed, that promote the production of breast milk. Nursing Blend is the ideal dietary supplement for nursing women who are experiencing breast milk supply issues.

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This giveaway is closed.

To be entered, please leave a comment on this post.  This entry is REQUIRED in order to be entered for a chance at the giveaway.  Please be sure head over to the Fairhaven Health Facebook page  and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.

 

For a second entry share this giveaway in some public forum (Facebook, Twitter, parenting forum, etc.) and return with the url of where you shared it and leave that in a comment.  Please note, you can share it where you like and as many times as you like, but only one will count for a second entry.

Important: only a possible two entries per person, any additional entries will be deleted and abuse will possibly result in all of an individual’s entries being deleted.  Please be patient in waiting for comments to show up as some have to be moderated from the spam filter.  Thank you.

That’s it – two simple tasks and you’re entered twice for a chance at a great giveaway.  Thanks to Fairhaven Health for their generous giveaway and sponsorship of The Leaky Boob, providing support for breastfeeding moms everywhere.  This giveaway will remain open through December 30, 2011 and is open to USA entries only.  Good luck and have fun!

 

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The winners have been randomly selected, congratulations to…

Emily:

“I would love to try your product, thanks for the giveaway!”

and

Janae:

“I would love to try this out. Working full time and being a busy single mom of two boys sometimes takes a toll on my supply and my eating habits. This would be wonderful for me!”

Congratulations to you both!  Thank you Fairhaven Health for this opportunity and your support of TLB.  Those of you that didn’t win but are hoping to try their product, follow the links in this post or the image button in the sidebar for Fairhaven Health and order yours today.

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