the domestic tales of four sisters

Milk Supply Boosters: Review Pt. 1

So I had (another) child.

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One day, in the near future, when I’m ready to relive the laboring-without-an-epidural-but-on-Pitocin nightmare I will share this little man’s birth story. Until that point let’s talk about boobs, breastfeeding, nipples, and milk.

Oh, I should probably disclaimer that this isn’t something that guys want to read. Unless you’re really, really, super duper committed to your wife’s breastfeeding/pumping endeavor. In which case – high five! A little weird, but hey, who am I to judge?

Truth time – my kids would only drink formula if I could stomach spending the $15-16 (for store brand) a can as often as they need it. My daughter, past three months, ended up being exclusively formula and while it wasn’t breaking the bank for us (thank you, Lord) it was irritating to be going to the formula aisle every shopping trip and shelling out such a big price tag for such a little thing. You quickly get over it, but it still sucks when you think about it.

So – price tag. Price tag of formula is why I choose to pump/breastfeed. (I mean yeah, there’s a whole slew of health benefits in the breastmilk, I get it! Calm down! Just being honest here!)

In recent days you will find me attached to my breastpump lamenting over the fact that my milk supply is dwindling and I only have roughly 25-30 ounces of milk stored up in the freezer. Then you will find me clutching my smartphone reading Dr. Google and Kellymom and Baby Center suggestions on how to increase your supply. The problem with all of these though is most are in a forum setting and everyone and their mom has a different opinion on what is “low supply” or if they even have it. Or if what they’re taking or eating even works. Hello? Are you still there? Did you run away to the corner to cry in a fit of confusion?

It’s cool. So did I.

So I decided I was going to do a test run of the most recommended items (plus one weird one) and see what happened. My son is eating mostly formula as is with the occasional nursing moment (when he decides my boobs are good enough for him – which is about 1 and 1/2 times a day…) so if my supply dropped it wasn’t that big of a deal to me. If it increased, well, hot dang I’m on the road to not having to buy formula!

Let’s do this …

I broke these posts down into two reviews because there are a few I haven’t tested yet and I didn’t want to inundate you with 6 different possibilities.

Today I am tackling Fenugreek Supplements, More Milk Plus Supplements by MotherLove, and Whoppers (the candy, not the burger).

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For starters I DO have a slightly low milk supply for someone who doesn’t nurse except 1 time a day. This is part in partial to the fact that I have a 16 month old and a 3 week old and so my pumping sessions are usually when I can fit them in and not really like clockwork as they should be. I have noticed, however, that as I have gotten the 3 week old on a good schedule and the 16 month old doesn’t actively seek to destroy him every moment of the day now – I can pump every 2 to 3 hours. Which is ample.

My largest amount I’ve ever pumped in one 15-20 minute pumping session was 2 ounces. And that was just as my milk was coming in and I was engorged. So since about a week postpartum I’ve been searching for ways to jack my supply. I’d love to keep pumping 2-3 ounces per session. I feel like this is a reasonable goal and definitely will help me get to stocking up my freezer.

When I noticed my first dip in my milk supply I immediately started with Fenugreek. Over the course of 2-3 days of three 610mg capsules 3 times a day I noticed an increase. I was back up to about 2 ounces per session. I was happy. But then my son’s belly seemed to be hurting him and I stopped the fenugreek, and talked with my doc. She let me know what the real problem was and fenugreek wasn’t the culprit. But again, lack of consistent pumping PLUS no more fenugreek? Major dip in supply. I’m talking like drops here …

Enter More Milk Plus. I used this with my daughter and I did notice a slight increase then. Well, I’m sad to report, it did nothing for me this time.

I went back to Dr. Google and the lovely, bored, slightly judgmental Babycenter forums and found the weirdest suggestion of all – “if you hate Guinness beer (me) you could try to eat some Whoppers (the candy) or have a glass of milk with malt powder in it.” UHM.

I don’t know what to do with my hands.

Just kidding … last night I texted my husband and told him to bring me home Whoppers. The candy. Not the burger. Though, I wouldn’t have objected to the burger.

I ate the serving size recommended on the box of Whoppers (chased it with some water – I HATE the way Whoppers make my teeth feel…) and went to bed.

Low and behold within 8 hours something amazing happened … I pumped almost 2 ounces. In 15 minutes.

WTF. Right?

Whoppers … who knew.

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On the left is my milk from 2-3 days of More Milk Plus. It’s a hair under 2 ounces, but sadly, included TWO pumping sessions (a total of 30 minutes). On the right is my milk from 1 serving of Whoppers (8 hours prior to pumping). It is a hair under 2 ounces and included ONE pumping session (a total of 15 minutes).

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I started pumping and saving on May 15. This is all I have as of May 23. And each bag contains an average of 2 or 3 pumping sessions. Yes. Tragic, is it not?

So here’s my review –

More Milk Plus – It might help you, it might not. In fact that’s how ALL of these are. It all depends on your body. At any rate, it is a little on the hefty side as far as the price tag is concerned. And the object (for me) is breastmilk is free. So spending $36 a bottle every 3-4 weeks I can’t justify. I would say start on the more cost effective Fenugreek and see what happens. And then move on from there.
Fenugreek – I would start here. Disclaimer: If you are taking the appropriate amount  it will make you smell like maple syrup a little bit. I only ever noticed it when I put deodorant on in the morning or shaved my armpits. Other than that I don’t feel like I walked around smelling like Waffle House. I purchased mine from GNC because it is local and I don’t have to pay for shipping, but you can buy them on Amazon for only $6? Can’t beat it. I now plan on using Fenugreek in conjunction with the occasional handful of Whoppers. So weird. SO WEIRD.
Whoppers (The Candy) – I don’t really know how much these are, but I can’t imagine they are too expensive. Tonight on your way home from work or wherever, grab a box. Eat the suggested serving before bed and see what happens. If nothing occurs, give it another shot the next day. As with all of these it may take some time for your milk supply to respond to these items.

A few other suggestions I have –

Breastfeed & pump as much as you can. If you are a pumper than you know it has to be every 2-3 hours. I tried “power pumping” one Sunday when my husband was home and able to help me with the children – and I noticed a good boost there as well. I basically just pumped for 10 minutes, took a 15 minute break, pumped for 10 minutes, 15 minute break, so on and so forth for about an hour and a half.

Water is pretty important! If you are a coffee drinker like me be sure to flush your coffee. I know that sounds weird, but after I finish my mug in the morning I drink a big glass of water.

Lastly, don’t stress. It’s not worth it. If pumping/breastfeeding isn’t working for you and you’re trying everything and all you feel is exhaustion and sadness – seriously – walk away from it. My daughter was formula fed and she is smart, funny, well-behaved, and has only been sick ONE TIME in 16 months. You have to do what is best for baby, and sometimes what is best for baby is what is best for you. (Words from a very, very wise doctor.)

In my next review –

Lactation Cookies
Oatmeal (bleh)
And … BEER. (AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!)

Have a great weekend, friends!

-Kelsea

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