Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 30: What If I'm Still Struggling With My Supply? {31 Days of Making More Milk}

In our day and age, there are many factors that can affect milk supply. If you are still struggling with your supply, know this: any amount of breastmilk will benefit your baby, and some is better than none! I highly recommend The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk by Dana West and Lisa Marasco, as well as working with a knowledgeable board-certified lactation consultant as soon as possible. (learn about finding an LC here)

With the right support, most women can overcome these challenges.

In mother:
  • Medical interventions, including Pitocin and IV fluids
  • Hormone imbalances, including underactive thyroid. A thorough thyroid screening is a must for a mom with chronic low supply that is unresponsive to other treatments.
  • Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
  • PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and fibrocystic breasts
  • Anemia 
  • Eating disorders 
  • Hypoplasia (insufficient glandular tissue in breast) 
  • Long separation after birth 
  • Premenstrual Syndrome (There has been success supplementing with Calcium and Magnesium!) 
In baby:
  • Poor latch
  • Weak suck
  • Tongue-tie or lip-tie (tight or short frenulum/frenum) 
  • Nipple preference 
  • Mismatched size of baby’s mouth to mother’s nipple or areola 
  • Baby suppressing milk supply by under-drinking due to strong flow, overactive let-down, indigestion or heartburn
  • Incompetent feeding practices at hospital, undermining mom’s efforts
  • Inexperienced or uneducated lactation consultants (make sure your LC is an IBCLC. You may need to see more than one. I saw five!)

Most of all, be encouraged! According to lactation consultant and Mother Food author Hilary Jacobson, “The good news is that these problems can almost always be resolved with time, guidance, and in some cases, specific therapy or training for the baby.”

Mother Food by Hilary Jacobson 

I love sharing my experiences, but I'm not a doctor - this site isn't meant to give medical advice, it's only for informational and educational purposes. Please discuss with your own qualified health care provider before adding in supplements or making any changes in your diet. Also, any links to sponsors or affiliates (including Amazon) may give me a percentage of the sale or a pay per click. Thank you so much for supporting this site! 

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This is the thirtieth post in the series 31 Days of Making More Milk. Check out yesterday's post for a smoothie recipe or start from the beginning here


Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 29: Maintaining your milk supply during the holidays

(This post contains affiliate links.) 

The holidays can be one of most stressful and busy times of the year, and for a supply-sensitive mother, can have a detrimental effect on all the hard work you've done.

It was best for me to go into the season knowing that with all the activity, I would have to be extra diligent and watchful over my stress levels, water intake, and fatigue factors. Of course, I wanted to meet baby's needs but I also wanted to have an enjoyable time with family and friends! The balance can be hard to find, sometimes.

Here are my top five super simple tips for maintaining your supply during the holidays.

1. Keep hydrated

For me, the holidays are definitely a time when I drink more alcohol. Parties, dinners, gatherings; I don't usually pass up a good cocktail or glass of wine. When you're breastfeeding though, it can lead to faster dehydration and to lower supply. Keep your water bottle filled and make sure you're meeting or exceeding your water needs. (Also of note regarding alcohol and breasfeeding: if you have a newborn, forgoing alcohol is something to consider. No need to pump and dump, though. Read more at KellyMom).

2. Keep healthy snacks handy

If the holidays find you driving to and fro, here and there, keep some healthy protein bars in your glove box, or pack some pyrex with cut up fruits and veggies and nuts. Make pb&j (or I prefer sunbutter and jelly) sandwiches with a layer of butter or coconut oil, and wrap them up and keep them in the fridge so you can grab one when you're hungry. Also helpful would be drinking lactation-supportive teas, either hot or iced, like this Oat Mama Lactation Tea! My favorite glove box snacks: MacroBars, these grass-fed beef sticks, or these blueberry hemp power snacks. 

3. Take a nap + set boundaries

This tip will vary wildly for each individual. So, for some people, they need strong relational boundaries in place to feel calm and sane. For others, their boundaries are more fuzzy, and every aunt is crowding into your room to ooo and ahhh over the baby trying to nurse at your breast. Both are good, it just depends on the person. Tap into that feminine, maternal wisdom and see what will fill you up rather than drain you, and get your partner on board to support you.

Personally, I felt overstimulated a lot of the time with nursing twins and I retreated a lot to nap while they napped, or even just to read quietly while they slept. I loved to be around the activity and festivities, but having the quiet time to catch up on sleep - the girls were not even close to sleeping through the night - or read felt very important to my emotional health. Slip that Kindle into your diaper bag or download the Calm App to your phone for a short but soothing meditation.

4. Find a quiet space to nurse

Do you host people at your house for the holidays? Do you visit others? Sometimes this can be really hard on the nursing relationship. If baby is distractible and likes to see everything that's going on, good luck getting him or her to eat while there's a party going on! Check with your host to see if there's a quiet bedroom you can retreat to when it's time to nurse. It will give baby and you a chance to relax, breathe, and focus on each other. It was amazing the difference in speed of letdown when I was distracted and uncomfortable versus when I was at ease and the room was quiet.

5. Stash an extra milk supply

This tip only applies if you use a breast pump and if your baby will take a bottle of expressed milk. If you do and they will, the holidays can mean an extra holiday party or outing with your partner or friends and maybe baby stays home for a few hours with a loving caregiver. Yay for self-care! To give yourself a little extra wiggle room, pump a few extra ounces of milk after each nursing session so that you have this luxury, if you want. It always felt nice to know that if we suddenly had an opportunity to get out of the house for a few hours for dinner, or even a movie, I had some milk in the freezer to get through at least one feeding. You can also keep a manual breast pump in your car in case of delays or emergencies and you're feeling super full.

6. Bonus: Don't make food "good" or "bad"

I see this weird quirk in our culture that we are allowed to "indulge" during the holidays but it seems like there is always an underlying current of guilt that accompanies our festivities that subconsciously implies that it is "bad." Talk about stressful. Maybe it's just me? Well, either way, I don't buy that anymore! Dollop that whipped topping on top of that pumpkin pie! Celebrate. Rejoice. Get Festive. Eat good food, and enjoy every moment of it. Practice listening to your body and you'll get a feel for what it likes/needs and doesn't like/need. Not only are you providing life-giving food for your baby, but you're also nourishing yourself.

I want to hear from you! What are your favorite tips for maintaining supply around the holidays? 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 28: The Perfect Smoothie {31 Days of Making More Milk}

As a very hungry nursing mama, smoothies have been a lifesaver. There are times, especially in the mid to late afternoon, when I really needed a snack because I knew that the cluster feedings were soon to come. What is so wonderful about a smoothie is that you can pour it into a glass, pop in a straw, and slurp away while feeding your babe.

They're quick, easy, and you can pack them with tons of nutrient-rich goodness that your body needs to make high-quality milk.

I've come up with the perfect smoothie base recipe, in my opinion!

Of course, it's less of a "recipe" and more of an approximation of ingredients...depending on how awesome your blender is, how liquid-y you prefer it, what kinds of fruits you like, etc. etc. 

Mama's Perfect Smoothie 

  • 1 cup whole milk yogurt or greek full-fat yogurt (may need more liquid w/the greek yogurt)
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk or milk substitute (or more to reach desired consistency)
  • 1 small or 1⁄2 large ripe banana
  • 1 heaping tsp. coconut oil 
  • 1 Tbsp. flax meal or cold-pressed flax oil 
  • 1-2 tsp. soaked chia seeds (chia gel)
  • Handful of ice cubes
  • 1-2 egg yolks, optional (only if you can get pastured, otherwise omit)

Fruit smoothies: add 1⁄2 - 1 cup of other frozen fruit to taste and adjust liquid as needed.
Spiced smoothies: add 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 – 1⁄2 tsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
Chocolate smoothie: add 1-2 Tbsp. cocoa powder, cinnamon and maple syrup to taste.


- I like to buy a big bushel of bananas and freeze them in a ziplock. The frozen banana adds a creamy consistency to the smoothie that is so delicious.

- To soak your chia seeds, just add a few tablespoons of the seeds to a glass or jar of water and store in the fridge. It will have a gel-like consistency that you can easily add to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, or baked goods. You can also use chia gel as an egg substitute in baking.

- I'm not a big fan of protein powders, they are very processed. BUT, I have only found one reliable protein powder called Garden of Life Raw Protein. It's made from sprouted nuts and seeds, is organic and soy-free, has added probiotics AND is in a base of Brewer's yeast, a key ingredient in my milk-making cookies! So if you do want a protein powder, I highly recommend this one.

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This is the twenty-eighth post in the series 31 Days of Making More Milk. Start from the beginning here

Thursday, October 25, 2012

DIY holiday simmering scents

Artificial scents from candles and plugins have bothered me (instant headache) for more years than I can remember, so I've loved making my own "scents" for a long, long time.

I remember as young teen when my mom would pull down the Christmas decorations, and inside one of the many rubbermaids was a mini holiday crock pot. I would grab it and run to the kitchen for cinnamon sticks, lemon slices, and whole cloves, fill my little crock pot with water, and plug it in on my desk. My room smelled heavenly all month, until the Christmas decorations were put away after New Years.

Try making your own all-natural simmering scents this holiday season, and package them up to give out as gifts! I used mason jars, because they're reusable and no plastic goes to waste. They also look great.

Here's what you need:
  • Whole Cinnamon Sticks
  • Whole Cloves
  • Whole Allspice
  • Dried Orange and Lemon Peels/Slices (you can buy these, or make your own!)
  • Ginger Root (cut into chunks)
  • Star Anise (optional) 
For packaging:
  • Mason jars
  • Fabric scraps
  • Paper tags 


There is no actual "recipe" for these scents, you basically just fill up each jar so it looks pretty. The easiest way is to layer the bottom of the jar with cloves, then add in the 2-3 cinnamon sticks, 3-4 lemon and orange peels/slices, 1 allspice, 1-2 chunks of ginger, and 1 star anise (if using). Fill in any remaining open areas with cloves.

Tie fabric scraps around the jar and add a gift tag along instructions.

Simmering instructions:
  • Pour jar contents into a small saucepan and fill with water. Simmer on low, keeping a close eye on the water level. 
  • You can also simmer these in small crock pot or "dipper," potpourri warmer, candle or mug warmer, or mini fondue pot!
  • The scents should last 2-3 days. The peels and spices will soften and make the water murky, but as long as they're giving off scent, they're usable! 

Inspired by:

Ginger Citrus Simmering Spice at Tattered Sisters 
DIY Natural Room Scents at The Yummy Life
Simmering Scents at Dandee Designs

Find more holiday inspiration by following my Pinterest "Holiday Yumminess & Prettiness" board!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 23: Hearty Lentil Stew {31 Days of More Milk}

This recipe is seriously hearty and very nutrient-dense. Not only are most of the ingredients lactogenic, but it also is full of protein and iron, crucial for a new mama recovering from birth. It also freezes very well, so make a huge pot! 

Hearty Lentil Stew
Adapted from a recipe by chef Joni Cushman

3-4 cups green lentils, rinsed
6 carrots, chopped
2 golden beets, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 zucchini, chopped
1-2 root veggie, chopped
1 bunch washed spinach, chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
sea salt & pepper

Optional: Add 2 cans of coconut milk for a dairy-free cream soup


Heat up a soup pot with the coconut oil. Add the chopped onion and a pinch of salt and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add the spices and all other chopped veggies except for spinach. Saute for another 5 minutes. Add the lentils and cover with water to 2" above the ingredients. Let simmer over medium heat about 30 minutes. Turn heat down to low and add spinach. If adding coconut milk, do it now.

Serve with a dollop of organic sour cream or plain whole yogurt.

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This is the twenty-third post in the series 31 Days of Making More Milk. Check out yesterday's post about foods to avoid while breastfeeding or start from the beginning here


Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 22: Foods & Herbs To Avoid While Breastfeeding {31 Days of Making More Milk}

This post comes at the particular request of my best friend who just had her darling little baby in September. She struggled with her milk supply with her last two kids and is working really hard to avoid any pitfalls or "booby" traps with this one - eating well, getting rest, taking supplements, and pumping. She is awesome!

Yesterday , I noted that using cabbage leaves too often could potentially reduce your milk supply. I didn't know this prior to doing research, and was even more surprised when I read on a thread of conversation that one mom put cabbage leaves in the freezer to help with weaning! 

 For a new mom trying to deal with low supply AND dealing with plugged ducts or mastitis, this could be a real obstacle.

Well, my friend read yesterday's post (thanks for your support, always!) and suggested that I do a post on all the potential foods, supplements or herbs - like cabbage leaves - that could hurt your milk supply without you even knowing it. I loved the idea. Let's do it!

Luckily, the list isn't too long. 

Foods that May Limit Milk Supply
  • Alcohol 
    • The occasional drink is definitely OK, make it a dark beer rich in hops or barley!
  • Cabbage Leaves 
    • Applied topically or in a tincture/cream
  • Caffeine
    • Too much soda, coffee, tea and chocolate can dehydrate your body. Use in moderation and make sure to drink enough water.
  • Herbs: Rosemary, Parsley, Peppermint & Spearmint (Including the oil in mints, lozenges or candies), Sage, Oregano, Thyme 
    • A little in cooking or as a garnish is just fine, just avoid these in large quantities and herbal teas.

Other Things That May Limit Supply
  • Smoking 
  • Medications. Check with your medical provider to make sure they're safe. 
  • Stress
  • Birth Control Pills
  • Hormonal Imbalances

That's all I could find for now! If I come across anything else, I'll add it to the list.

Sources & Resources

Foods That May Affect Milk Supply from Renee Beebe
Things That Can Decrease Your Breastmilk Supply from About.com Breastfeeding
Mother Food by Hilary Jacobson
The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk by Dana West and Lisa Marasco
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This is the twenty-second post in the series 31 Days of Making More Milk. Check out yesterday's post about treating mastitis naturally or start from the beginning here

- - -

I love sharing my experiences, but this site isn't meant to give medical advice, it's only for informational and educational purposes. Please discuss with your own qualified health care provider before adding in supplements or making any changes in your diet. Also, any links to sponsors or affiliates (including Amazon) may give me a percentage of the sale or a pay per click. Thank you so much for supporting this site!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 21: How to Treat Mastitis and Blocked Ducts Naturally {31 Days of Making More Milk}

I remember my experience trying to ward off my first case of mastitis. I was clogged, inflamed, and in pain.

We were in the NICU about a week after the girls were born, and I asked to see the lactation consultant to see if she could help me. Two came in that day; one helped me get sized for new flanges for the breast pump (they were cushioned! Oh luxury!) and worked with me to try and unclog the duct using heat and massage. The other lactation consultant took one look at my sad, engorged breasts and said, "Call imaging, now! We have to get her in for ultrasound therapy, immediately!"

Well, it was Friday afternoon at 4pm. Let's just say that the imaging people were less than helpful. I didn't get in. So I went back to the properly-fitting pump flanges, hot compresses and massage for the next few days, trying to keep my breasts as empty as possible. Luckily, I was able to stay one step ahead of it before it turned into full-blown mastitis. Phew!

There are many causes of breast infection (mastitis is the clinical term), and can range from incorrect latch to restrictive clothing, or from engorgement due to oversupply or too long between feedings. Pumping moms need to be sure they have the correctly-sized pump flanges. For moms who struggle with recurrent infection, KellyMom suggests checking into potential food allergies.

Prevention is Key

The key is to catch it early. If you feel achy, feverish, and have a clogged milk duct (feels like a lump in your breast that will become tender to the touch, sometimes radiating heat or red streaks), get on top of it quickly. Untreated, it can lead to abscesses and that is a big problem.

It's also important to be extra diligent during the first three months after your baby is born and your body is working hard to produce and regulate your milk supply. Treat yourself well and with kindness!

The ideal is to avoid it in the first place, by:
  • Allowing baby to empty the first breast before switching. This lessens your chances of having excess milk build up that can become a problem. 
  • Feed on demand, not by a rigid schedule. Your body will regulate your milk production to meet the exact needs of your baby. It's amazing!
  • Drink more water and nourish yourself with good food and rest. Stress and exhaustion can take a little case of inflammation into a full blown illness very quickly. According to Susun S. Weed, "Breast infections are almost always a sign of too little rest."
  • Wear nursing bras that fit properly without restriction and avoid clothing that puts too much pressure on your breasts. 
  • See a board-certified lactation consultant to check latch and positioning.
Natural Remedies
According to KellyMom, "these treatments should be used in addition to your efforts to find and remedy the source of the problem. Keep in mind that if the source of your recurrent plugged ducts or mastitis is something fixable (for example: oversupply, infrequent nursing, too tight bra, etc.), then solving the underlying problem is the most effective thing you can do."

Physical Treatments
  • DO NOT STOP NURSING! Try and nurse even more than usual to keep the milk flowing through. 
  • Heat or Cold Packs - Apply heat/cold before and after nursing baby. If there is redness or swelling, it's inflammation and you need COLD. Once the swelling goes down, you can use HEAT.
    • Take a hot shower, use washcloths, a towel-covered ice pack, or rice packs as compresses, or use these really cool things called Booby Tubes from Earth Mama Angel Baby. They can be used hot or cold.
  • Massage, while nursing or pumping. 
    • Find the lump with your fingertips, and while nursing baby on the side with the plugged duct, use your finger tips to massage gently but firmly from the plugged area toward the nipple. Massage in the shower for a double whammy!
  • Soak in a sink full of warm water. 
    • Fill the sink, lean over and immerse one or breasts. Do this for 5 minutes 5-7 times per day.
  • Rest! Nap while your baby naps, at least once a day. 
  • Sleep on your side or your back in a cotton nursing bra with no wires. Sleeping on your stomach can put pressure on your breasts and lead to clogged ducts.
  • Wear loose clothing during the day with a well-fitting bra to prevent restricted blood flow. 
  • If you have a breastpump, you can pump for just long enough to relieve pressure or engorgement.
  • If you're really uncomfortable, try nursing for a few sessions on your hands and knees with your baby underneath. It feels strange and awkward but it works to get the milk flowing.

Supplements & Foods:
  • Vitamin C 
    • 1000mg 4-5 times per day
  • Vitamin E
  • Echinacea Tincture
    • Echinacea helps the body fight off infection. Take 3 drops in a glass of water every 2 hours. You can also take it in tea form in addition to the tincture. Continue taking for at least a week after symptoms have resolved. 
  • Raw Garlic
    • Eat a whole clove 3-5 times per day
  • Homeopathy 
  •  Propolis
  • Apple Cider Vinegar + raw honey
    • Mix 1 Tbsp. ACV with honey to taste in a small glass of water. Take 3 times per day.
  • Lecithin
    • Eggs are the best source: One mom I heard of swears by 2-3 raw pastured egg yolks per day (add to a smoothie!). If you can't get a hold of some pastured eggs, buy organic and cook the yolk gently. 
    • If you can't eat eggs, try a non-GMO Lecithin supplement
  • Cabbage leaves
    • Place a cool leaf inside your bra, directly against your breast. Leave it for 15-30 minutes, then remove. Do this once or twice per day (careful, it can negatively affect your supply!)  
  • Thieves Oil 
    • 1-2 drops diluted in 1 tsp. coconut oil, rub on affected area - a good friend swore by this!
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic Care - read about Frugal Granola's experience.

And if none of the above treatments work to completely resolve the problem, a cycle of antibiotics may be necessary, although in my opinion (I'm not a Dr.!) and from many of the informed opinions of those I admire, that is the last resort, because of the damage it can do to your gut and the developing gut of your newborn, and because of the increased risk of a fungal infection like thrush. If you do have to take antibiotics, make sure you supplement with a very high quality probiotic and eat lots of yogurt and naturally fermented foods.

More Sources & Resources:

Prevention and Treatment of Mastitis at Keeper of the Home
3 Remedies for Mastitis from Joette Calabrese
Natural Cures for Mastitis at Naturally Knocked Up
Mastitis and Blocked Ducts at Holistic Kid
Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, Jan Riordan, Karen Wambach

What's your go-to remedy for mastitis or clogged ducts? Have you tried any of those listed above?

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This is the twenty-first post in the series 31 Days of Making More Milk. Check out yesterday's post about galactogogues (milk-making herbs) or start from the beginning here

- - -

I love sharing my experiences, but this site isn't meant to give medical advice, it's only for informational and educational purposes. Please discuss with your own qualified health care provider before adding in supplements or making any changes in your diet. Also, any links to sponsors or affiliates (including Amazon) may give me a percentage of the sale or a pay per click. Thank you so much for supporting this site! 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 20: Galactogogues {31 Days of Making More Milk}

If you've already done some troubleshooting with physical reasons for low milk supply, incorporated lactogenic foods into your diet, and are well rested, well nourished and eating a balanced diet, sometimes the use of supplements and herbs, called galactogogues, can be very helpful.

In fact, if you're a breastfeeding mama you know all about fenugreek. But there are some other options, too, and most of these are found in "Mother Teas' like Traditional Medicinals makes.

Supplements & Herbs

Anise Seed
Dandelion Leaf
Goat's Rue
Marshmallow Root & Leaf
Milk Thistle
Oat Straw
Raspberry Leaf
Red Clover
Shatavari Root

Please consult with your healthcare provider, lactation consultant, or herbalist, and do your homework before starting an herbal regimen. Learn more about each herb and their particular uses and potential side effects at Stony Mountain Botanicals, MOBI Motherhood, and The Holistic Herbalist.

Tincture or Capsules?

According to Diana West and Lisa Marasco, "tinctures (alcohol or glycerin) work much better than capsules (dried seeds or leaves) because the potency of the herb is much better preserved when suspended in alcohol or glycerin than in the dried form. It is usually best to place it directly under the tongue (sub-lingually)."

Mother Food author Hilary Jacobson recommends taking galactogogues at their minimum dose at first to gauge any side effects or allergic reactions, and increase from there: "As a breastfeeding mother gathers experience about her unique reaction to herbs and foods, she will learn about the dosage that works best for her, both for building and for maintaining her milk supply."

*Please check with your care provider before starting any herbs or supplements.* If you feel uncomfortable or experience side effects at any time, discontinue the use of the herb.

I recommend working with a board-certified (IBCLC) lactation consultant. Every woman’s situation is different. Working one on one can really help target the root problem and find a solution to low milk supply. Learn more about finding the lactation consultant right for you by reading Day 3's post.

Also, please remember: More milk is not always better. "If you do not have low milk supply, and you take an abundance of herbs and foods to increase your supply, you may create unnecessary difficulties for yourself such as over-supply, engorgement, plugged ducts, or mastitis. Your baby may develop colic due to too much foremilk, or sucking difficulties due to an overly strong let-down reflex, both of which are common with over-supply." Use these foods and herbs wisely, and reduce or stop their use if you notice problems developing. - from the MOBI website

Have you used any of these galactogogues? What was your experience?

- - -

 This is the twentieth post in the series 31 Days to Making More Milk. Read yesterday's post  about lactogenic fruits & veggies, or start from the beginning here

- - - 

I love sharing my experiences, but this site isn't meant to give medical advice, it's only for informational and educational purposes. Please discuss with your own qualified health care provider before adding in supplements or making any changes in your diet. Also, any links to sponsors or affiliates (including Amazon) may give me a percentage of the sale or a pay per click. Thank you so much for supporting this site! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 19: Fruits & Vegetables {31 Days of Making More Milk}

We've covered protein and the good fats, now lets fill in the blanks with fruits and veggies! This list is from a variety of sources, but mainly three great books: Mother Food by Hilary Jacobson, Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck, and The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk by Lisa Marasco and Dana West. 

Luckily, these fruits and veg are yummy and easily accessible - you're not having to come up with any crazy recipes or complicated cooking methods. Because we don't have time for that, right?

Always eat cooked vegetables with a bit of fat, like butter, coconut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil. This helps your body assimilate the nutrients. If your baby's tummy appears to be upset, lay off the raw veggies and eat them lightly cooked.
Fennel (raw or cooked)
Green beans
Leafy greens, raw and cooked
Naturally fermented/cultured vegetables made w/sea salt, not vinegar: Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Pickles, and Chutneys. (Bubbies is a good brand. Eat a small amount with 1+ meal per day.)
Yam or Sweet Potato

Apricots and other stone fruits (if dried, preferably unsulphured)
Coconut, including water and the full-fat milk (look for milk without guar gum or stabilizers. You can also buy creamed or unsweetened flaked coconut and make your own coconut milk for way less.)

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This is the nineteenth post in the series 31 Days of Making More Milk. Read yesterday's post for a delicious coconut recipe or start from the beginning here.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 18: Coconut Macaroons {31 Days of Making More Milk}

Welcome to Day 18!

Ah, coconut. The nursing mother's best friend. An incredibly lactogenic fruit. The oil, the milk, the water and the flesh is chock full of healthy goodness for you inside and out. We use them in cooking, for smoothies, coconut rice, on our skin - the list is endless.


When I'm tired of my milk-making cookies (it happens!) I make a batch of these coconut macaroons. They are so simple to through together and taste delicious. You can drizzle chocolate over the top, too, if you want!

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons from my eBook, More Milk, Naturally

2 1⁄2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
3 egg whites (save yolks for adding to scrambled eggs or smoothies!)
1 cup organic powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. sea salt
8 oz. dark chocolate
1 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil

- Preheat the oven to 350F. 
- Combine coconut, egg whites, vanilla and salt in a bowl with a mixer or by hand with a wooden spoon.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar.
- Drop by 1 1⁄2 inch rounds onto greased cookie sheet.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges brown.
- Mix butter or coconut oil and chocolate together in a saucepan over low heat.
- Dip the top of the cooled macaroon into the melted chocolate or drizzle the mixture over the top.

What are your favorite coconut recipes?

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This is the eighteenth post in the series 31 Days of Making More Milk. Read yesterday's post about taking a Nursing Vacation or start from the beginning here.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day 17: Take a Nursing Vacation {31 Days of Making More Milk}

Sometimes the answer to your breastfeeding problems is to SLOW DOWN and take a nursing vacation!

It's really simple: Take your little one to bed with you for 2-3 days, and do nothing but nurse frequently, rest, and eat well. 

That's it.

If you answered "No" to any of these questions, a nursing vacation might be what you need. I know, I know. It's so hard in our culture and in our busy mama-lives, but I'm serious when I tell you that sometimes parking your behind in that big recliner and nursing as much as baby wants can do wonders for them and for you.

Some tips for a successful nursing vacation:
  • Rest. Sleep when baby sleeps. 
  • Nourish yourself. Drink to thirst, eat 3 meals and 2-4 snacks.
  • Relax. Rent or stream some movies from Netflix, RedBox, or Hulu. Or choose a TV series you've been wanting to watch or catch up on. (My choice is always Gilmore Girls, I've watched the whole series 4 times!)
  • Schedule your vacation for when the most help will be around.
  • Have other kids? Enlist help! Your spouse/partner, good friends, family members, neighbors - let them know what you're doing and ask for their assistance in advance!
  • Make food ahead of time and freeze it. Double recipes, make soup, lactation cookies, frozen pre-made smoothies, cut up veggies, etc. Make it easy on yourself and your family members so there's ready-made food for you. Because you won't be cooking, FYI. 
  • Put together a nursing basket.
  • Let the house go for 2-3 days. No one will die or starve (except your pet, don't forget to feed him/her), and you're doing more important work. 
  • Snuggle that baby. Admire every little eyelash and fingernail. You made this little beauty!  
  • If your partner, kids, or family members balk, tell them that I made you do it. I could probably even get my lactation consultant to write you a prescription. Or print out the picture above and quickly flash it in front of their face. Whatever works!
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This is the seventeenth post in the series 31 Days of Making More Milk. Read yesterday's post of low supply links or start from the beginning here

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 16: Low Supply Links {31 Days of Making More Milk}

Day 16! We're halfway there! Thanks for coming back, I've had a lot of fun so far, and there is still endless material to cover!

There is so much good information out there written by wise and qualified women. I can't stress enough how important it is to get good, earlier-than-later support from a qualified, board-certified lactation consultant (she'll have IBCLC after her name), in addition to help from family and friends. However, be aware that sometimes the advice friends or family gives (or strangers, ever had that happen?) is actually not correct

It's also important to know all the various factors that can contribute to low milk supply, such as incorrect latch, timed and scheduled feedings, hormonal issues, etc. If you target the root cause(s) of your low milk supply, along with appropriate supplementation, you will likely make enough milk. 

I have a great example. A very good friend of mine just had her third child. She struggled with milk supply with both her previous two, and was resolved to do as much as she could to support and increase her supply: good nutrition, rest, supplements, pumping, and the support of her midwife. A month in, she was noticing that her supply was dropping, and was feeling more than a little discouraged. There were a few issues to address: the use of nipple shields, overactive letdown on one side, and really long feedings. But, and I find this so amazing, she was doing some reading on KellyMom and found out that it was her LATCH! This whole time! Even after the nurse told her it was fine! She adjusted her daughter's latch to get the breast tissue deeply and comfortably into her daughter's mouth, and felt the different immediately as her milk began to transfer more efficiently. Wow.

Sometimes going back to basics is the best way to troubleshoot, and a simple adjustment can make all the difference!

Using traditional supplementation to increase supply when there is another reason for low production can result in too much milk, which may not seem like a problem to someone who struggles, but it definitely is and carries its own challenges.

Here are some of my favorite web links and articles about low milk supply:

Physical Methods to Increase Milk Supply from Low Milk Supply
Increasing Low Milk Supply from KellyMom
"Is tongue-tie the hidden cause of your feeding problems?" from the Analytical Armadillo (we dealt with tongue and lip tie issues! Read about it here and here.)
How can I increase my milk supply? by Becky Flora, IBCLC
Hidden Hindrances to a Healthy Milk Supply by Becky Flora, IBCLC
Increasing Your Milk Supply by Anne Smith, IBCLC
Optimizing Your Milk Supply After Returning to Work or School by by Becky Flora, IBCLC
Increasing Milk Production from Low Milk Supply
I'm Not Pumping Enough Milk, What Can I Do? from KellyMom
Getting Milk Production Off to a Good Start from Low Milk Supply
My Breasts Feel Empty! Has My Milk Supply Decreased? from KellyMom
Achieving a Good Milk Supply from MilkShare
The First Six Weeks: Milk Supply by Paula Yount

And for even more reading, if you're a nerd like me,  the "Low Supply" keyword on KellyMom brings up a ton of great information!

And if you're someone who will deal with chronic low supply due to medical or physical issues, this is THE BEST information:

Living with Chronic Low Milk Supply by Angie Cannon, D.M.A., Hilary Jacobson, Beverly Morgan, IBCLC 

Happy Reading! 

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This is the sixteenth post in the series 31 Days of Making More Milk. Read yesterday's post about milk-makin' beverages or start from the beginning here


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 14: The Power Pump {31 Days of Making More Milk}

It's Day 14! Almost halfway through the month!

My secret weapon shared with me by the lactation consultants in the NICU was the "power pump," and I try to share this with any pumping mamas I meet. It's great for after you've been sick, or your supply isn't keeping up with their growth spurt, or you have to return to work, etc. 

Remember this, though. No pump can remove all of the milk in your breasts, so it's not an accurate indicator of how much milk you really have. This can be a powerful practice and can even lead to oversupply, so it can help to work with a certified lactation consultant to help guide you through the process.

From KellyMom:

"No pump can remove milk from the breast as well as an effectively nursing baby, so pumping does not maintain milk supply as well as a nursing baby. Because of this, the greater the percentage of baby’s nourishment provided by pumping (rather than direct breastfeeding), the greater the possibility that mom may have to work harder to maintain supply."

And this:

"It is quite normal to need to pump 2-3 times to get enough milk for one feeding for baby (remember that the pump cannot get as much milk as a baby who nurses effectively)...Don’t get discouraged if you are trying to build up a freezer stash when nursing full time and don’t get much milk per pumping session — this is perfectly normal and expected."

How to do the power pump: 
  • Prepare for a normal pumping session, pump for 10-20 minutes.  
  • Rest for 10 minutes 
  • Pump 10 minutes 
  • Rest 10 minutes 
  • Pump for 10 minutes 
  • Continue this cycle for 60 minutes once a day, for up to a few days. 
The amount of milk you pump by the end of the session doesn't matter - it may be only drops - but the goal is to stimulate your breasts and the "supply and demand" principle to encourage your body to make more milk.

Some extra tips:
  • Pumping should never hurt. If it is painful, your pump sizes may be the wrong size or you have your pump on too high of suction (speaking from experience, I had my suction on SO high and it hurt so bad!) 
  • If you can use a hospital-grade pump, it'll help even more! I rented a Medela for the first month and loved it. Search "breast pump rental" and your city name, or contact the lactation consultants at your local hospital, midwifery school or birthing center.
  • If you can't rent a hospital-grade pump or your insurance doesn't cover, you can get a high-quality breast pump on Amazon like the Medela Pump In Style.

  • Investing in a hands-free breastpump bra makes pumping sessions so much easier - you can flip through a magazine, eat a meal, or catch up on blogs. 
  • Try not to watch the amount of milk coming out of the pump - think of this saying: A watched pot never boils. Same for pumping.
  • Remember when we talked about using relaxation and visualization? It works for pumping, too! One study has shown that the moms of hospitalized babies who listened to guided relaxation or soothing music while pumping had an increased pumping output - up to 2-3 times their normal output! 
  • Finish your pumping with a few minutes or seconds of manual hand expression. 
More pumping resources:

Pumping at KellyMom

Pumping at Lowmilksupply.org 

Power Pumping handout from Melissa at Luna Lactation (my IBCLC!)

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This is the fourteenth post in the series 31 Days of Making More Milk. Read yesterday's post about putting together a nursing basket or start from the beginning here

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 13: The Nursing Basket {31 Days of Making More Milk}

One of my favorite mama bloggers and friends IRL is Gretchen from That Mama Gretchen. She has an adorable toddler, Jemma, a sweet new baby boy named Max. She is a savvy business woman and her blog is chock full of creative and practical content. Basically, she's awesome!

I asked her if I could share the contents of her nursing basket - it's organized and thorough, whereas mine was just a mishmash of things from room to room. Next time I'm sure I'll be much more organized...

Whether you are a new mama or a seasoned one, a nursing basket is an absolute must! Wouldn't you agree? Wait? You're wondering what a nursing basket is? Well, let me enlighten you :)

A nursing basket is a nook of must-have breastfeeding supplies. You see, when a nursing mama snuggles in to feed her baby she will inevitable need a few things within arms reach. Here's a peak at my own nursing basket ...

  1. Disposable nursing pads - You leak, you spray, you need to keep your bra dry. Enough said. 
  2. Burp cloths - I like to keep at least 2 close by. One to layer under baby's chin to catch dribbles and another to lay over my shoulder for actual burping. 
  3. Reusable nursing pads - When I'm having a home day I much prefer to use a wool/bamboo reusable nursing pad. It isn't leak proof (at least not for me), but it does help me to save money and be a bit more green so I use them as often as I can.
  4. Lanolin or nipple cream - Talk about a must! Nip ouches are no fun and must be remedied ASAP. Sample sizes are perfect for nursing baskets, Motherlove is the best in my opinion :)
  5. Reading material - When baby drifts off to sleep I often take advantage of the quiet. Sometimes I stock my basket with a novel or devotional, but with this baby I'll be starting off with house research and Tribes.
  6. A chic basket, tub, or other container - My basket is from Michaels and it perfectly fits a sideways box of nursing pads.
  7. Water - Drinking lots of water is crucial to keeping up milk supply, plus, as soon as I let down I immediately get thirsty. Hence the whopping 24 ounce cup. Just don't forget to refill it before you sit down! Been there, done that, no bueno. Try a glass water bottle. 
  8. Coconut oil - You know those little make-up sample containers? Once mine are done I fill them up with coconut oil and tuck them everywhere! My nursing basket is no exception. Coconut oil can be used for everything ... nipples, cradle cap, and more. Stock up!
  9. Lotion - I need lotion like I need water. Nursing makes my hands feel super dry so I usually lotion up at some point during nursing snuggles.
  10. Chapstick - Yep, just like water and lotion, I gotta keep my lips hydrated. The pomegranate scent from Yes to Carrots is my new obsession. 
  11. Hair accessories - I've made it a habit to pull my hair back while nursing. I don't like it falling in my face and when baby gets older I don't like it being pulled!
  12. Snacks - Nursing mamas need to eat 300-500 more calories/day in order to maintain a healthy milk supply. Unfortunately this doesn't mean extra cookies (well, unless they are lactation cookies). I usually opt for a high-protein granola bar as my nursing basket snack. (Try these PREMADE cookies from MilkFul!
And, a few other tips ... 
  • I highly recommend having a basket on each floor of your house or in every room you frequently nurse in. I have two - one near the couch and one next to my bed. All these supplies are also stocked in my diaper bag so I'm ready to feed the little one when I'm on the go.
  • Restocking your nursing basket is a perfect activity for older children or sweet husbands :) Print up a little checklist and allow your family to take an active role in taking care of you and baby.
  • Nursing baskets make a lovely and personal gift for all the sweet mamas in your life. Talk about a memorable baby shower gift! Even better, after baby is born, why not deliver a nursing basket when you pop in the visit mama and baby!

Thanks for sharing, Gretchen! Be sure to visit her blog and admire her sweet littles!
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This is the thirteenth post in the series 31 Days of Making More Milk. Read yesterday's post about eating the good fat or start from the beginning here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day 12: Eat the [Good] Fat! {31 Days of Making More Milk}

Let's talk fat.

We already established that our breastfeeding days are no time to be strictly dieting (day 4 and day 10) because our bodies need calories to maintain milk production. Fat is a crucial component in this biological dance, and I might even argue that it is THE most important food you can consume, especially in the first year of your baby's life. 

According to Nina Planck, author of Real Food for Mother and Baby, "The single most important ingredient in your breast milk is fat. About 50% of the calories in breast milk come from fat, and your baby needs it for weight gain and energy, and to assimilate protein, calcium, and fat-soluble vitamins."

Fat is THE principle source of energy for infants. Human milk contains essential fatty acids (EFAs) in different proportions to those found in cow's milk and in formula. These fatty acids are crucial for a baby's growing brain, eyes, blood vessels, cell membranes, and more. What's so interesting is that the levels of EFAs decrease the longer mom breastfeeds! So eating enough foods rich in EFA is essential.

The Omega-3 fatty acid DHA in particular also carries a bonus for mom by promoting her emotional and physical well-being. Unfortunately, omega-3s are most likely to be missing in the modern diet, and a nursing mom will benefit from cold-pressed flax seed oil in salad dressings, chia seeds, a clean fish oil, or a twice-weekly serving of wild salmon.

What's also interesting is that the types of fats YOU consume will be the types of fats found in your breast milk.

That's why it's so important to avoid trans-fats (found in hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils like margarine and vegetable shortening) or bleached (and rancid!) commercial vegetable oils like soybean, safflower, and canola. These damaging fats are found in empty calorie foods that come in packages and boxes, or foods that can sit on a shelf for a long time without spoiling. According to Hilary Jacobson, author of Mother Food, trans-fats also compete with EFAs in the body and may cause lactation problems by interfering with the production of fat in mother's milk.

What are the good fats? The best are found in traditional foods: wild fish and seafood, grass-fed meats, butter, extra-virgin olive oil, cold-pressed flax seed and sesame oil, coconut products, chia seeds, and the tropical oils like coconut and palm.

Hands down, a nursing mother’s best fat-friend will be coconut oil. This amazing oil has lauric and capric acids, which are antibacterial, antiviral, and brain-building. Coconut oil also promotes postpartum weight loss!

Ways to incorporate good fats into your diet: 

1. Use coconut oil for sauteing, frying, and baking. It has a very high smoke point and high heat doesn't damage the molecular structure!
2. Drizzle flax seed oil or extra virgin olive oil over your salad, veggies, or protein
3. Use full-fat coconut milk as a milk alternative in baking, smoothies, and desserts
4. Use coconut oil and butter when baking
5. Mix together a few tablespoons of chia seeds with organic butter, store in a container in the fridge and use in place of regular butter (on toast, muffins, etc.)
6. Mix 1 Tbsp. flax seed oil, chia seeds, or unsweetened flakes of coconut into your yogurt or oatmeal
7. Add a spoonful of coconut oil into your smoothie, oatmeal, or coffee (gradually work up from 1 tsp. to a 1+ Tbsp.)
8. Eat salmon a few times per week
9. Make your own salad dressings
10. Take a daily fish oil supplement from a clean source (like Vital Choice)

The best place to buy coconut oil is Vitacost! You can get a $10 off coupon by using this referral link!

How do you incorporate good fats into your diet?

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This is twelfth post in my 31 Days of Making More Milk series. Read yesterday's post about protein or start from the beginning here

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 11: Protein Power! {31 Days of Making More Milk}

 Day 11 is all about protein, baby!

As a nursing mama, there are extra demands placed on your body, and the food you eat not only fulfills your nutritional needs but also enables your body to produce milk. Just like when you were pregnant, your needs will go unmet to be sure that the special needs of your baby are fulfilled.

So even though you're no longer pregnant, you still need to eat the highest-quality food you can, with a special focus on protein. Amazingly, an infant who weighs only a few pounds receives nearly 1,000 calories per day in breast milk!

Protein isn't energy, it is bricks and mortar. Foods rich in this macro-nutrient are crucial for supporting mom's healing and recovery from birth and to make sure that baby is getting the essential amino acids needed for mental and physical growth. There are more scientific ways of explaining how protein works and why we really need it, but I appreciate the simple way Dr. Sears describes it:

"Just as workers at a construction site need a steady supply of building materials, tissues undergoing repair and those that are growing need a steady supply of protein to build and rebuild organs, muscles, antibodies, hormones, and enzymes - every kind of cell in the body. At eight months or eighty years, bodies need protein." 

Good Protein Sources

Animal Products

Whole milk, yogurt, and cream
Eggs, especially the yolk
Chicken & Turkey
Wild Salmon
(Bravery points: chicken liver. High in iron!)

Grains, Beans, Legumes, Nuts & Seeds

Preparation: Grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds contain an anti-nutrient called phytic acid and may be hard for your body to digest if they are eaten “as is,” they benefit from an overnight soaking. Put in a glass bowl, cover with warm water, and leave in a warm place overnight. That’s it.

The next day, prepare as usual. The cooking time may be decreased, especially for oatmeal. The only inconvenient part is thinking ahead. Learn how to make "Crispy" nuts at the Mommypotamus.

Nuts like almonds, macadamia, and pecans.
Seeds like cashews, pumpkin, chia, sesame and sunflower.
Beans like black, kidney, and chickpeas.
Grains and legumes like barley, lentils, peas, millet, oats, and quinoa.

Protein-Packed Main Meal Recipes:


Baked Oatmeal with Dried Apricots and Cranberries from Nourished Kitchen
Egg Muffins at Nourished and Nurtured
Quiche from Nourishing Creations
Bacon, Egg & Toast Cups from Martha Stewart
Nut Butter Muffins from Grain-Free Foodies

Lunch & Dinner:

Simple Turkey Meatloaf from Martha Stewart
Minimalist Roast Chicken from Nourished Kitchen
Chicken Pot Pie from ME!
Power Salad with spinach, chicken, avocado and goat cheese from Recipe Girl
Salmon with Fresh Herbs from Ina Garten
Chicken Curry Soup from Savory Sweet Life
Chicken Salad with Sweet Dill Relish from Mommypotamus
Black Bean Burgers with Cilantro-Lime Mayo from Cuisinenie
Spiced Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk from Sprouted Kitchen

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This is eleventh post in my 31 Days of Making More Milk series. Read yesterday's Rules to Eating Well or start from the beginning here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 10: Ten Rules to Eating Well {31 Days of Making More Milk}

On Day 10 of our series, it's only appropriate to postpone the recipe and address the 10 Rules for Eating Well.

I've relied on this list of "rules" for more than 5 years, and first discovered it in Dr. Diana Schwarzbein's series of books based on the "Schwarzbein Principle." Her books are a fabulous resource for helping people - especially women - heal after years of metabolic damage from too much caffeine, crash and low-cal dieting, and wacky hormones. I highly recommend it, whether you're nursing or not!

You'll find this list in my eBook, but I thought it would be better to put it together in a graphic - maybe print this out and hang it on your fridge? You'll find a green "Print-Friendly" button at the very bottom of this post.


This is tenth post in my 31 Days of Making More Milk series. Start from the beginning here

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