Since I had my three children with only six months in between each pregnancy, I can honestly say I have almost mastered (there is always room for improvement of course) the breastfeeding experience. With my first baby, Ria, I found the whole thing complicated, uncomfortable and fearful that I wasn’t having enough milk for her. I did my fair share of research but found little result with the advice that was available to me. By the time I gave birth to my third baby, Leelou, I was confident, experienced and was determined to make sure that I had plenty of milk for her even though I had two small children that needed my attention, a career and an ever-growing household to manage- no excuses!
Through my never-ending research and learning about the physiology of my body during pregnancy, delivery and post-natal (breastfeeding in particular), I have found myself with a wealth of knowledge that I love to share with my pregnant friends and new mothers. Breastfeeding is something that the female body is made to do- it can be easy, simple and a peaceful, heart-warming experience.
Here are my tips to guarantee you a plentiful milk supply for your baby for as long as you need it:
Breast milk is 85-95% water so you need to drink water and warm liquids all the time! This is so important and I believe this is where a lot of women go wrong and find their supply quickly falling. I trained myself to drink a big glass of water every half hour, have soups at every meal, sip on herbal teas made for breastfeeding and so on. I made sure that I had a big jug of water everywhere I could possibly be in the house so that water was easy accessible to me and it reminded me to keep drinking!
- Fenugreek Seeds
Indians have plenty of natural remedies up their sleeves and this is one of them! Take a tablespoon of Fenugreek seeds and soak them in water overnight. Then you can swallow them whole in the morning before or after breakfast. I did this every morning while I was breastfeeding. You do tend to smell a little funny while taking these but it is a minor detail considering how much this helps you boost your milk supply.
This is my biggest secret of all! Moringa is call the Miracle Tree- and for a very good reason. It has incredibly high levels of protein, calcium, vitamin C and more. Plus studies on cows have shown that it increases milk supply levels up to 40%. I discovered this tree from my Philippina nannies as it is commonly given to breastfeeding mothers in their country to keep up their milk supply. I was amazed by the results! The trees (i.e. fresh leaves) are common throughout the UAE or otherwise it is available in powder and capsule form from reputable pharmacies or health food stores.
Dates are actually mentioned in the holy books for their endless nutritional attributes and positive effects for the mind and body. When it comes to breastfeeding, dates help to increase the oxytocin levels in the body- a hormone responsible for signaling the breasts to produce milk. Have 2-3 a day in a smoothie or they are yummy just as is!
This is also a big one. It can be difficult to have restful sleep after the baby arrives, believe me I know! It is really important to have someone to help you during the first six weeks after delivery (40 days) as this is the time your body needs to rest and heal, and it is a crucial time to develop a healthy milk supply for your baby. Make sure you get a few hours of deep restful sleep a day/night and your body will have the energy it needs to keep up milk production.
I know plenty of women who breastfeed exclusively but I found that it helped me to have peace of mind to express milk regularly throughout the day so that I know how much I have available for her. For baby Leelou, I expressed milk every 3-4 hours, that’s 6-7 times a day! It might sound a little extreme and like hard work but you know what? It worked. I had almost a two months supply of milk for her in the freezer at all times! My breasts never had a chance to understand that I needed less (breast milk production works on supply and demand), as I kept pumping regularly and I had the most plentiful supply of milk that I ever have had.
For more advice and assistance should you require it the ladies at the La Leche League UAE are quite helpful:
Breastfeeding is a beautiful experience so relax and enjoy it!