Hey! So in continuing part II of the blog just to recap:
-Nurse, nurse, nurse or pump, pump, pump. The key is to demand more when in doubt. Regulating milk supply is all about supply and demand. The more you demand, the more your milk increases. (Per most of the research out there and quoted from Kellymom.com, babies eat an average of 25oz a day. When determining how much milk she needed for days where I had to be away I calculated 25 by the amount of days I’d be away to get how much she would need.)
-A pumping schedule works wonders. (Don’t put baby on a nursing schedule though. This is highly advised against in many mom breastfeeding groups and in my experience with lactation. Medical advice is varied based on each individual’s preference, etc. Please speak with your consultant or pediatrician. I can only speak of my experience.)
-A great support group helps a ton.
– I used Milky Mama’s treats for my supply increase (So yummy! My favorites were the brownies, lemonade, cookies and tea. I think just about every product, I loved. I tried a few others from other companies but hers were the best in my opinion aside from drinking tons of water and plenty of oatmeal.)
Sometimes I get asked how much milk did we donate overall and the answer is somewhere around 3000+ ounces to local moms in Alabama and the milk bank.
-I saw mixed reviews on donating because some hospitals charge to use breast milk until a mother’s milk comes in and it’s billed to the insurance company. This I understood because of the operating cost for the milk donation sites.
-I loved being a donor. I researched the benefits of donor milk which influenced my desire to keep giving. Some babies survive because of donor milk. I’m not a medical profession, so I won’t go into all of the research but it was something about it that moved me to do what I could.
-I got to tour the lab and the coordinator at the time explained how milk is processed and everything. I thought it was pretty neat.
-While donating is a great way to build connections with other moms, local mother’s groups, etc, donated milk doesn’t always go to the bank. For example, I was a part of a mother’s group on Facebook for Alabama. There would be offers of breast milk where someone would request some or a mom would have too much in the freezer and need to get rid of it. In exchange most times, moms would offer to replace the bags. A lot of the women needed milk for newborns or their milk would decrease before their goals, etc. I met some amazing women that way too.
Another question I get a lot: “How did you increase your supply or maintain it to build a stash?”
When we left the hospital I put myself on a schedule to pump every time she ate and a minimum of eight times a day per my lactation consultant. I stored every ounce on maternity leave unless a family member was coming but even then we limited her bottle intakes, even at Christmas. During the holiday’s she was allowed around one or two bottles a day. If I needed a nap, she co-slept with me and I’d just nurse before and usually after. We nursed on demand. I was on maternity leave for ten weeks due to a repeat c-section.
My husband was an advocate of storing milk and suggested we buy a deep freezer. We started here: Don’t get discouraged. The second post was within a week or two. After the first month of breastfeeding I dropped the pumping sessions down to 4 to 6 because I felt like I was making too much milk until my supply regulated (note: we increased this when I went back to work from 6-8 times a day). We donated around 200 ounces and then I learned that I needed to donate more because it wouldn’t take long to replace that since I hadn’t started giving her bottles often (around 150+ weekly depending on how much I pumped and she nursed). When I went back to work we stayed on schedule. Every day the goal was to pump 12 oz. for her to have when I was at work, which she didn’t always drink all of it since she took two to three ounces during the first three months and then three to four up until around ten months. Anything above 12 oz. were stored in the freezer. When we reached our goal of 1,000 ounces we did another donation to the milk bank. Each drop off the goal was no more than five hundred ounces so that she would have enough for when I was away.
The first time I went away, I got engorged because there was nowhere to take enough adequate pump breaks. I took a few days off work to re-establish my supply, this is when I first started ordering milk increasing products. My supply went back on track by nursing on demand and pumping. I can’t say if the first product I tried assisted or not because I didn’t like the taste of the products and stopped as quickly as I had started. Before the next trip, I had an adequate supply of Milky Mama’s products (increased of two to four ounces with each session after each block away from my lo). I started out with the emergency kit which I felt helped me when I felt that my supply had started diminishing when she turned six months. We emptied our deep freezer and gave 900 oz to local moms and another 6-800 to the milk bank. They sent a postcard saying I had donated over 2000 oz around that time. Our overall goal was to donate 3000oz to help mothers and babies in need. Before I left due to reverting back to my old pumping schedule minus the 2 am session and nursing on demand, we were able to get enough milk to last for 28 (700oz, although she had a growth spurt in which the extra milk had helped get her to the last day) days while I was away and then I shipped milk back home during my training which helped us get to 10 months exclusively.
I do not regret my decision to donate. I do realize that my job causes me to be away for training for short or long periods of time and we were surprised to make it that long when our original goal had been to stop at six months but we just kept going. 10-12 months were a mix of supplementation which she often rejected for breast milk or baby food. I used Milky Mama’s products again to help increase and I went from about one half an ounce at the time to three. I didn’t take any more once she turned one. When she turned one we gave her breast milk and almond milk because we don’t drink cow’s milk.
Thanks for tuning in. If you have any questions or feedback, leave comments below and I’ll respond as soon as I can. Hope this helps a little if you have questions about nursing.
Peace and Love
Milk Donation Link: (Note each state has their own requirements and donation centers)
Disclaimer: Products work differently for every mom. Some moms pump more than others because of the needs of their baby’s or their body, etc. Every mom is different and so are our supplies. Please speak with your pediatrician or lactation consultant for specific medical related questions.