Do you see the triumph in my smile? My husband Jason caught this on camera, the moment of joy I felt when my breast milk had finally come in enough to pump. A feeling I can only imagine is like scoring a touchdown in football.
I was blessed to be able to stay home through most of my pregnancy, and I read everything I could find on google, pinterest, and facebook about breastfeeding. My goal was 6 months. Not even once did I think I would be able to make it to 15 months!
I am not a dietitian or medical expert. I simply wanted to share some tips from one breastfeeding mama to another.
I am fortunate to have the support system that I have to keep me on track and motivated. My husband and two girls that I have been friends with for a long time also had babies around the same time as me. Both ladies breastfed and were experienced mothers who I could call or message at any time to ask questions and vent. Then there is my husband, Jason, who had to live with me through the entire pregnancy and post partum hormonal swings. When we found out we were pregnant I expressed my intentions to breastfeed and stay home with our son until he was at least 2. No arguments or qualms just “Yes whatever you want.” My husband has helped me immensely through the process. He has heard me curse and seen me cry due to pain from raw nipples and eaten whatever foods I decided was best for my milk supply. Everyone in my immediate family and some of my extended family and friends have seen me nurse openly in my home and even seen me pump.
It is my belief that breast feeding is an important bonding and imprinting experience for you and baby. Breastfed babies are happy and healthy babies so don’t be ashamed if your baby doesn’t like to be covered up to nurse. In Arkansas they encourage mothers to breastfeed and in my first year of breast feeding I spend 50% of my time in hospitals with my Grandmother who was undergoing treatments at the VA for small cell lung cancer. I nursed in many bathrooms but nurses would also help me find sanitary places to use my pump if my son was at home with someone else. I have even had to nurse my son in front of my grandmother’s doctor so that I could be there to hear everything I needed to know about my grandmother’s condition. I struggled with my emotional health and questioned my abilities as a caretaker and mother but I’m here to give you my advice so hopefully you can take courage when you hit some rough patches on your journey.
That seems like a no brainer but it is crucial that you drink lots of water. One gallon to be exact. You aren’t just hydrating yourself. Your body is doing a myriad of amazing functions besides making food for your baby and it all requires water to be successful at it. When I first started breast feeding I was not a vegan but I became very interested in what foods were best for promoting a healthy milk supply. Read on for more.
Foods for Milk Supply
- I start every morning with oatmeal. I used to eat instant oatmeal until I read a pinterest article about how most oatmeal you see in the stores are so processed they have hardly any nutrients left in them. So that means I had to find whole grain rolled oats. I have been using Bob’s Red Mill and if you follow the directions it tends to try and over boil on me so I always use a large pot and lid just for my oats. Then I had to expetiment to find what to put in my oatmeal every morning. From fruit, to nuts, to pumpkin puree and peanut butter and bananas I have a list of ingredients on my cabinet to give me inspiration in the mornings or sometimes I meal prep my oatmeal in advance.
- Sweet potatoes
- Spinach (I eat a box of pre washed organic spinach a week)
- Fruits (Seriously just start buying all kinds of fruit from apples to pineapples but make sure if you are able to watch out for non organic Papaya which is one of the highest recommended fruits for increasing milk supply.
- Brown rice (Don’t like it? Well it’s very good food for you. Maybe you should try it again, I recommend adding a bullion cube to it while its cooking or eat it with hot sauce).
- Beans and Lentils
- Raw nuts (stay away from salted and sweetened nuts if you can stand it. I like to buy bulk nuts, vegan chocolate chips, and dried fruits and pretzels to make trail mix bags to last all week.
- Beets (I enjoy fermented ginger beets)
- I know I already said water but for the last time drink more water. I rarely drink sodas but I do splurge occasionally and get one. My biggest issue was struggling with the whole “No Caffeine” during pregnancy thing. I often times would feel so tired I regularly drank coffee and espresso drinks and still do. I do notice that if I have drank too much caffeine not only am I anxious and sweaty but the baby spits up more.
- Raspberry tea with whatever sweetener you perfer is highly recomended for boosting your milk supply.
- I would also recomend camomile tea because stress is the #1 reason most moms, in my observations, quit breastfeeding. More on that in a minute.
Beer. Yes I said it. A few beers a week will not hurt your supply or your baby.
Make Time for Calm
Back to the stress factor I mentioned. Stress affects your milk supply. It can also effect your mental health which is one reason I recomended the chamomile tea and the beer.
I can tell you that I know what living with daily stress is like. If you can play some relaxing music while you nurse and have lots pillows cradling you and the baby to protect your back as possible you may find nursing a lot easier. Also try to pay attention to your breath as a way to help you relax when nursing. The more you can relax the better.
I do not have pumping tips. With all that I had going on pumping made me feel defeated. I believe that you make much more milk when you nurse then when you pump. I was constantly worried about my supply until I gave up regularly pumping. Just trust your instincts. And please do not take breast my feeding advice as a criticism if you decided not to breast feed your child. The last thing I want to hear is unsolicited advice from strangers so please take this as a guide and not rules. Everyone is different and what works for me may not work with you. Thank you for reading. And as always #normalizebreastfeeding