Thursday, September 24, 2015

Low Supply Breastfeeding Mommas

I am writing this for those mommas who are pumping and/or breastfeeding and have a low milk supply. I have come across so much advice from so many sources on how to increase your milk supply. But a lot of that advice can actually decrease your supply to the point where you might lose it altogether.

Some of the medical conditions that could cause a low milk supply could be having PCOS, Thyroid Disorder, Insulin Resistance, Insufficient Glandular Tissue, and Diabetes. There are other issues going on that could also affect supply like the delay of your milk coming in, baby having tongue tie or lip tie, having latch problems, ect. Maybe you don't have the right breast pump, the flanges aren't the right size, there is a microscopic hole in the membrane, or any number of those fixable issues.

We are going to tackle the low supply due to medical issues.

If you are a breastfeeding mom and are having low supply issues you hear all the time to take Fenugreek. Drink Mother's Milk tea. There's supplements you can take to increase your supply! Eat oatmeal! Drink Ovaltine!

I will start with the issues I deal with. I have Hashimoto's which is Hypothyroidism.
With thyroid disorders a gluten free diet is highly advised. Also avoiding soy like the plague. And come to find out, fenugreek is also detrimental to your milk supply. So all those combination teas for increasing milk, supplements, and tinctures that are combo types made have fenugreek in them. Reading the ingredients list is so key.

I am also developing Insulin Resistance. The best thing for any "insulin dysregulation" problem (PCOS, Diabetes, Insulin Resistance) is diet and exercise. This may not cure PCOS, for example, but it will make it a little more manageable. Sugar is our number one enemy with insulin problems. So all these meal replacement and diet drinks are super bad. There is so much sugar in the premade drinks. Same with another popular recommendation... drink more Gatorade. This has too much sugar and will do more harm than good for milk supply. Ovaltine is a good example. Ovaltine has a lot of sugar, but also has barley in it. For diabetics (and thyroid disorders) whose bodies cannot tolerate breaking down gluten, these are bad. Oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, Malt O Meal, ect are actually bad things to eat to increase supply. And that includes Brewer's Yeast which is almost all lactation cookies out there.

If you think you have any of these problems, fear not... you can get help. Talk to your local IBCLC. Even if you are trying to get pregnant, currently pregnant, or already gave birth or adopted your baby. They are highly trained and can help you through the medical issues.

Now comes to the pumping advice. Now this is just as variable as the foods you eat above. Not everyone responds the same. From the foods you eat, the issues you face, how those interact within your body, your immunity, the supplements you take, to the pump you use and respond to. I will give you my own personal experience and you can go from there and decide for yourself. This is just to give experience from what I have learned from what I went through.

I have used the original Medela Pump In Style, the newer Medela Pump In Style Advanced, Ameda Purely Yours Ultra, and even the Medela Symphony. I have pumped every 3 hours during the day and once or twice during the night. I've power pumped. I have pumped with this routine for almost 4 months for the last two of my pregnancies. Which both failed to produce anything near enough to feed my babies for a whole day. Not even a half of a day.

Currently I am pregnant again. And armed with the information I have come across with my previous pregnancies and experience and also with more info I have come across with this pregnancy here is what I learned about pumps and pumping.

Previously I was going on the advice of pumping every 3 hours during the day for 20-25 minutes at a time. I actually would pump longer and lasted about 30-40 minutes. From what I am gathering from other mommas who do not have a sufficient supply or over supply, this is advice is for maintaining supply. Its best to pump every 2 hours during the day and 3-4 hours at night with at least one pump during the prime time of 1 am and 4 am. During this window of time is when your prolactin level is the highest which signals the body to make more milk.

Now to the pump themselves. I am going to give the breakdown on the suction cycle and the suction strength here.

Spectra S1/S2 and 9 plus       cycle 30-46 RPM            suction 0-300 mmHg
Hygeia Enjoye                                 50-80 RPM                        50-240 mmHg
Medela Symphony                                                                     50-250 mmHg
Medela Freestyle                                                                        20-270 mmHg
Medela Pump In Style                                                                50-250 mmHg
Ameda Purely Yours Ultra                                                         50-250 mmHg

Now as you can see, a lot of them have about the same vacuum strength. The only one that is stronger is the Spectra. So if you are responding well to a pump and can supply for your baby without much struggle then any number of these pumps will work for you. Its just a matter of finding one you are most comfortable with and your body responds best to.

For some moms who have to struggle for every 5 mL of pumped breast milk, I have heard they have had their best output with the Spectra breast pumps. I have ordered mine and will use it when this baby is born this coming year.

I hope you have found this information helpful. As with anything you come across, you find what works for you and discard the rest. If you find that all this is too much and you just want to formula feed then that is what you do. Formula feeding your baby is not going to ruin your baby. *smile*

Stay tuned.
Medela Pump In Style

Hygeia Enjoye

Spectra S2

Medela Freestyle

Ameda Purely Yours Ultra

Medela Symphony 2.0

Spectra 9 plus