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parenthood

Increasing your Breast Milk Supply – How I Breastfed for 24+ Months

How I breastfed for over 2 years

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Breastfeeding is hard. I remember when I started breastfeeding almost 2 years ago for the very first time. I had so many questions, I wondered if I was doing it right. I worried if my baby was getting enough milk or if I was even producing enough for her. Speed ahead 20 months later and I’m still breastfeeding. Yep, it’s true. My oldest daughter weaned at 14 months while I was in the hospital having her baby sister. The baby is now 6 months and we’re still going. I was lucky in that both girls were able to latch on and get the hang of it really quickly. I remember the lactation nurse at the hospital coming in to talk to me about breastfeeding and was surprised to learn that I was already producing milk. Because I had gone straight from nursing my toddler to nursing the baby, there was no gap, so milk continued to produce and never stopped.

I hear about so many women who have stopped nursing because they were worried about whether or not they were producing enough milk, or have had a doctor tell them to switch to formula because their baby wasn’t gaining enough weight. I experienced this too. You can read more about that here.

Here are some tips that helped me successfully breastfeed for 20+ months.

1. Drink lots of water – My doctor put it to me this way, your needs are fulfilled first, the excess goes to your baby. So if my body needs water to be hydrated and I am not getting enough, there won’t be any left for me to produce the milk needed for baby. I am thirsty all the time but sometimes I forget to drink water. Your best bet is to get a water bottle, whether that’s a sports bottle or even just a plastic water bottle that you can refill and just take it with you wherever you go, even if it’s just around the house. It reminds you to drink. I have a favorite purple and pink acrylic tumbler with my daughters name on it that I take with me everywhere. I am just constantly filling it up when I’m out. Just having it with me is a reminder to drink.

2. Eat more calories – The body needs about 500 more calories per day, than what was taken in during pregnancy. I will be the first to admit that I’m not eating as healthy these days. The girls keep me so busy, sometimes I’m lucky if I get to eat breakfast, but if you can’t get in a full 3 meals a day, snack many times throughout the day. And I don’t mean chips and soda, pack-up some apple slices, some yogurt, bananas, nuts, anything to keep you full and eating throughout the day. Your body is continually working trying to produce milk and it needs some calories to burn while doing it. When baby goes through a growth spurt, your body will work harder to make even more milk, you will be hungrier and thirstier than you ever have been. Pay attention to your body. Eat and drink more during these times.

3. Let baby graze – This might be hard if/when you return to work, but let baby nurse as much and as long as she wants. You don’t have to stick to a schedule of every 3-4 hours. If your baby wants to nurse every 30 minutes, let her. This keeps your body in sync with the amount of milk your baby needs and wants.

4. Pump often – Pump as often as you can – even when you can’t physically nurse your baby. Pump more, or as often as your baby is used to nursing. Don’t skip a feeding even if baby is not with you. Yes, this means pumping at work. I know how difficult it can be to have to lug a pump around with you, storing the milk and everything that entails. But it’s necessary for you to keep up with your milk supply.

5. Skin-to-Skin contact – It is a proven, scientific fact that skin to skin contact with your baby can help boost your milk supply. Also, since baby is so close to mom, baby can smell the milk and will want to nurse more, resulting in more milk production.

6. Herbs – Although I have not used herbs while breastfeeding, many women, including close friends, claim that natural herbs can help boost milk supply. The following is according to the Dr. Sears website. Some of these can be found and drank in tea form.

7. Breast over Bottle – Always – Now I know it might be unrealistic to say always, especially when you return to work. But if you have the option to choose breast vs. bottle do it. Even if you have milk stored in the fridge. I know there will be MANY nights where you will be exhausted and the last thing you want to do is wake up in the middle of the night to breastfeed, and we all know the husband is fully capable of giving a bottle, but I will put it this way…the more time baby spends feeding from the breast means more milk flow and more milk production.

8. Seek support – Don’t hesitate to call your doctor, the pediatrician or a lactation consultant if you have questions about breast feeding. Don’t give up! Breast milk is the best thing you can feed your baby, and although it can be hard, painful and frustrating at times, it is the best thing you can feed your child. Don’t give up without seeking support.

Have you been successful with breastfeeding? Are there any other tips you can offer other moms who might be having problems or thinking about stopping?

UPDATE: I figured it was time to post a little update on my breatfeeding progress. My baby girl is now 18 months old and we are still going strong. I will say though that my supply is coming in unevenly now, but that’s my fault. My left breast started getting really sore out of the blue, and breastfeeding became extremely painful on that side several months ago and I was forced to switch to nursing her with my right breast 100% of the time. After some time the left breast stopped producing and my right was the sole supplier, although, I still have occasional leaks here and there with my left. She eats regular foods, has regular meals but she does love to nurse throughout the day and at night before bed. I don’t have a particular stopping age, we are just going with the flow at this point.

 

 

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30 Comments

  • Reply
    Stepfanie Cuevas
    January 23, 2014 at 9:51 am

    This are all great tips 🙂 Glad you were able to breastfeed so long. My first born we breastfed to about the same time. My 5 month old now, he is showing no sign of stopping or my supply from stopping either. 🙂

    • Reply
      Melanie
      January 23, 2014 at 8:32 pm

      That’s great Stefanie!! I want to nurse my daughter for at least a year so I have another 6 months to go.

  • Reply
    Ashley
    January 23, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Thank you for posting this! I only nursed my first son for 4 1/2 months, but he struggled with awful reflux and my diet was so restricted that it was honestly very hard to keep going. There are a lot of people who do well with it and keep nursing but it was a lot of stress for me.

    But this time around my 4 month old doesn’t have the same issues so I want to go a little longer with him (right now my goal is 6 months and when I reach that I’ll set another goal). I do feel like there are days that my supply seems to be lower and so I really appreciate this advice. They’re such simple steps that I can easily start doing to help those lower production days. Thanks again!

    *Pinning this article*

    • Reply
      Melanie
      January 23, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      Ashley, I know what you mean. My first had acid reflux until about 4 months, bad, and I also had to cut out dairy for a while just in case that was the cause. She got over the reflux at about 4/5 months and things were ok after that.

      It can get hard, but I think that if you set short term goals for yourself like you said, that is great. I wish you the best of luck, let me know if you have any questions or anything I can help you with. 🙂

  • Reply
    Alyssa H.
    January 23, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Mel I love reading your blogs, they are so interesting and helpful for future plans with Robert and I!!

    • Reply
      Melanie
      January 23, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      Alyssa, so glad to hear that. 🙂 I’ll always be here to lend some advice whenever it’s needed.

  • Reply
    Kimberley Tobin
    January 24, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    My son is 11 months old and we are still going strong with the breastfeeding! I love it so much and I’m so glad that I stuck with it during those first difficult weeks! I totally agree with all of your advice. In terms of herbs, an alfalfa supplement worked really well for me!

  • Reply
    Savannah
    April 2, 2014 at 1:23 am

    This is a great blog post! I stopped breastfeeding my son at 3 weeks because I thought I was going to die! Little did I know I was just extremely undereducated about breastfeeding and I was a single mom at the time. I regret ever switching to formula because that just made my poor baby miserable. I am now married to my sons step father & we are expecting our first baby together (a girl! Yay!) and I can’t wait to breastfeed. I know I’m not gonna give up this time. I will pin this for those days when I feel like giving up

    • Reply
      Melanie
      July 18, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Savannah, thanks so much for your kind words and congrats on your baby girl. They are the best 🙂

  • Reply
    Tricia
    April 8, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Breast feeding didn’t last very long with my first but my second is 4 months and we’re still hanging in there. Everything is great when I’m with her on the weekends but I just can’t pump enough during the day at work. I pump three times a day and I’m lucky to bring home 5 oz. Suggestion?

  • Reply
    Lindsay
    April 17, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    All great tips! You may want to change “milk thistle” to “blessed thistle,” though. There is HUGE difference… milk thistle is for your liver, blessed thistle is for milk production. I’d hate for one of your readers to pick up the wrong supplement and suffer through the side effects.

    • Reply
      Melanie
      July 18, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      Thanks Lindsay for the information! I actually got the list of herbs from the Dr. Sears website that is linked in that paragraph. He has milk thistle! I had no idea it is used for your liver, maybe a mistake on his site?

  • Reply
    Shunnell
    May 4, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I didn’t know how in the world I was going to keep up with breastfeeding twins but I’m 5 months in and though I feel like a nonstop milk machine I’m still producing for both of them while working full time. I pump at work as well and during the night after feedings.

    • Reply
      Melanie
      July 18, 2014 at 9:29 pm

      Congratulations Shunnell! That’s amazing! You can do it! 🙂

  • Reply
    Elaine
    June 6, 2014 at 10:59 am

    I have one child she is almost 11months old now. I liked reading this and I am definitely going to give some of it a try. Lately my milk production has dropped so much. I wasn’t sure how to get my milk production back up but these tips are great and hopefully they will work. I am hoping to keep breastfeeding another month but with the drop in my production I’m afraid it just wont be enough for my little girl she is always thirsty!
    Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    Robyn
    July 15, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    My son is almost 1 mth old and he was a big baby at birth (10.3lbs). At a week old, i was advised to supplement with formula to get his bilirubin levels down. He nurses great again, but hes still hungry. When i pump, im lucky to get a full ounce between both breasts. I take 6 fenugreek daily, i drink water, and i pump. Any suggestions? I dont want to give up but i feel like my body isnt helping me.

    • Reply
      Melanie
      July 18, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      Hi Robyn, are you staying over-hydrated? And I mean drink even when you’re not thirsty…are you pumping along with bringing him to the breast? I would say continue to do both if that’s what you’re doing. Let him nurse as much as he wants and pump in between that time. I know it sounds like alot but the more milk your body thinks it needs the more it will make. Babies also go through several noticeable growth spurts, and when they do they will act like they are always hungry and want to nurse constantly. You’ve only been nursing for a month or so, I would imagine your supply will get to where it needs to be very soon. Please keep me posted! 🙂

  • Reply
    Amanda Reyna
    July 25, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Thank you for sharing. It’s always encouraging to read others’ journeys.

  • Reply
    The Best Bottle and Breastfeeding Resources » B-Inspired Mama
    August 8, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    […] How to Increase Your Milk Supply Naturally – Generally milk supply issues are related to proper latch and/or frequency of feedings.  But sometimes it can be related to a medical condition (so make sure to check with your lactation consultant and/or doctor).  And sometimes a mama just wants to boost supply up for extra pumping.  Here’s a great list from a fellow breastfeeding mom with ways to naturally increase milk supply. […]

  • Reply
    Are you really going to Breastfeed that child, RIGHT HERE?**Judgments/Tips** | Book Wishes
    August 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    […] Increase your milk supply Naturally […]

  • Reply
    lyliana
    January 8, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    I am 22 weeks and am curious to know what are tips I should start now before baby is here I really want to breast feed and not have to turn to formula

  • Reply
    Darlene
    January 21, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    I have a question about supply…My daughter is 4 months old now and IS gaining weight. I still don’t feel like I have enough milk. I have to pump when I’m at work and when I’m with her I only breastfeed. However, when I pump I only get about 4 ounces, 1.5 from one side and 2.5 from the other. Is that normal? I’m trying to pump more at work so that my breasts can ‘refill’ more and then I usually only get 1.5 ounces. My mother-in-law is who watches my daughter and she keeps telling me that my daughter is still hungry and needs more milk. This is stressful and I try not to think about it and keep doing what I’m doing. But is that normal for a little girl to only have about 4 ounces a feeding?

    • Reply
      colette
      March 10, 2015 at 7:35 pm

      My 6 month old only eats 5 oz at a time. I have heard that since breast milk changes as baby grows it’s not uncommon for the baby to consume the same amount as they grow – the milk may just be fattier, etc.

  • Reply
    Liz
    March 16, 2015 at 6:09 am

    Thanks for the tips – especially seeking support! We will all have our ups and downs, but it is so much easier when you have a community to rely on!

  • Reply
    Peggy
    March 28, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Hi,

    I would love to continue bfing my 20 month toddler. But my doctor says that she is losing weight because of the breast milk, which has a high satiety factor and hence she eats lesser amounts of solid food. Is this true? Also my milk supply is dwindling because I have reduced the nursing frequency. But I would like to continue up to 2 years. What can I do? Thanks

  • Reply
    Angela Cameron
    September 13, 2017 at 11:19 am

    I was dried up because was hospitalized for a whole week and when came back home started drinking Healthy nursing tea and re-established my supply.

  • Reply
    Singh
    October 8, 2017 at 7:18 am

    Hi, I am breastfeeding my 4.5 months old little gal. I m not going to work and I hate pumping. Any suggestions how can I keep up my milk supply as I face many times this issue of not producing enough milk

  • Reply
    Kay
    March 27, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Hi, my son is 11 months old. I work monday-thursday and my supply is quickly dropping. used to pump 12oz a day sometimes 13oz. I have been getting 8-10oz over the last week. He still nurses at least 4 times a day, sometimes more when i am home and 2-4 times at night depending on how well he is sleeping. Just sleep trained so he was nursing 4-6 times a night before. but its cut down A LOT. i figured i would make up for that during the day when im at work but instead of having a high volume for the first pump and being engourged, it was the opposite. I cannot take fennel/fenugreek bc they actually do the opposite for me and ruin my supply. Is this still supply & demand this far post partum? Drinking lots of water, i eat like a cow- not very healthy but i eat a lot of food. If i start adding in 2 more pumps with that even matter at this point? Or just cont. with the flow and let him nurse when he wants to when i’m home? Thanks!!!!!
    I am very happy to have made this far. we’ve had lots and lots of issues the first 5 months of breastfeeding. So this is huge for me after having to exclusively pump for my first child for 11 months.

  • Reply
    Mandy
    September 24, 2019 at 7:47 am

    Are you still pumping as often and as much? My daughter is 13 months and I struggle because I am not making as much anymore and I don’t know if pumping is still worth it.

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