Let’s face it, the struggle can get real. For the first 5 months, my identical twin boys were breastfed and bottle fed with expressed milk. As they got bigger, the whole tandem breastfeeding deal got a little more difficult, and as they got more mobile, it was harder to burp one, while the other was still on the nipple. So, with those challenges, on top of a transatlantic move, we decided that exclusively pumping would be the way to go. That way, my husband and I could both feed the boys, and it would make the moving process a little easier on me.
Now, I’ve been told that your body will react to your baby when breastfeeding, and will adjust milk supply as necessary. As an exclusive pumper though, this is not a luxury afforded to me. One of my worst fears when the twins came, was not being able to produce enough milk for both of them. Now, I’m almost 10 months in, and luckily, I’ve been able to keep up. After 3 bouts of mastitis and a few close calls of just plain low supply, it has not been easy. If you’re experiencing a low point in milk production, or are just trying to build up a stash, here are a few tips that helped me! (FYI: I’m not a medical professional of any sort, these are simply tips that I’ve found useful through experience, and I didn’t die. This page also may contain affiliate links, which help keep the site running at no cost to you!)
- Stay hydrated! Not only are you probably already thirsty from all the pumping, but I found that when I haven’t had enough water, my milk suffers too.
- Supplement with fenugreek. I know this can be annoying, because you’ll need 3-4 capsules 3 times per day, but it has been a life saver for me. There were times when the boys and I were going bottle-for-bottle and I was scared that I wouldn’t have enough. A couple days of fenugreek fixed me right up! (I got mine at GNC, but it’s available on Amazon, at many pharmacies, as well as Whole Foods.)
- Eat! I know that post-partum, a lot of women are worried about losing baby weight. Well, guess what, if you want to provide your baby with calories, you need to consume them. I don’t mean go load up on McDonald’s and call it a day. Get some good meals in there! Nutrition is a whole different post, so, for now, just be smart! (Fun fact: There are about 20 calories per ounce of breastmilk, so if my twins each eat 5 bottles per day, at 7 ounces eat, that’s a total of 1400 calories that they’re taking from me!)
- Massage before pumping. This one might sound a little silly, but massaging gently around the ducts really does help the milk to start flowing. I’ve been doing this since probably 2 weeks after my milk first came in, and would recommend it to everyone.
- Heat. Whether you use a warm cloth or take a hot shower, I’ve found that the warmth loosens things up for me, and helps the milk flow. If you go the warm shower or bath route, you’ll want to pump immediately after to reap the benefits.
To this day, I still do all of those things, with the exception of taking Fenugreek daily! Generally, once the supply increases, it stays up for awhile, so I don’t use the Fenugreek unless I have to. If all of this is too much for you and you aren’t in dire need of increasing your supply, I’d say at the least, focus on hydrating, eating, and massaging. Those things will not take much of your time and will hopefully help you as much as they helped me. Don’t forget to also check and make sure your pump parts do not need to be replaced. I use a Medela Instyle Breastpump and it has not failed me yet! Once again, I’m not a medical professional, but I’ve found all of this information to be valuable and it has helped my supply both of my twins with breast milk
If you have any thoughts, comments, feedback, or tips of your own, feel free to comment! Also, if you have any questions, definitely reach out. I hope this can help some of you!