Friday, March 5, 2010

Spinoff Post: Reviewing Milk Supply Boosters

Breastfeeding is as difficult as it is rewarding. As a working mom, I don't have the luxury of being able to breastfeed my baby throughout the day which means that I have to pump. If there's one thing that pumping does, it makes you painfully aware of just how much milk your body is producing for your baby. In my case, it just ain't enough. Thus began my quest to find the "magic bullet" supplement that will boost my milk supply sky high so I can be one of those superwomen with a freezer stash and milk to spare.

How's that going so far? Not well. Jack still gets at least 12oz. of formula daily. I can't let my research be in vain, however. I wanted to review my experiences with some well-known milk supply boosters. Of course, your mileage may vary.

Fenugreek - comes in large, sort of hard to swallow capsules. The ones I have come from GNC and are 610 mg. I take 3 at a time, 2-3 times a day.

Positives: Inexpensive (about $9 for a 100 ct bottle) and easy to get at GNC.

Negatives: The pills are pretty big and I always feel like they get stuck in my throat. Plus, (TMI ALERT) they make me really, really gassy.

The Bottom Line: They seem to have increased my supply a bit, so I am sticking with the Fenugreek. It is well worth the price.

Traditional Medicinals "Mother's Milk Tea" - a tea that you can purchase at some of the more "crunchy" grocery stores (although my local yuppie mart carries it). They recommend 2-3 cups a day.

Positives: Inexpensive (about $5 for a box of tea bags), and with enough sugar it tastes just fine. Plus adding a few cups of tea to your daily diet helps increase your fluid intake, which is a good thing.

Negatives: The taste isn't for everyone, but I don't see any negatives aside from that.

The Bottom Line: This may have increased my supply a bit, but nothing to write home about. I'm a tea drinker anyway, and I actually like the flavor so I'm sticking with it.

More Milk Plus - This is a tincture (although I'm told it is available in capsule form. I haven't tried those). You take about an eyedropper full 2-3 times a day to increase supply.

Positives: It seems to be effective.

Negatives: I had to order it online, which meant a delay of a few days for shipping. I ordered from a shop on and it was around $20, so it is a bit pricey. Also, it tastes like ass. Seriously, it is toe-curlingly gross. You can add an eyedropper full to 2 oz of any liquid in order to dilute the taste, but even that doesn't help the flavor much.

The Bottom Line: This one really has helped me. I first took it before my late-night pumping, which is the pumping session that typically yields the smallest output, and I definitely noticed a difference. Despite the flavor and expense, I'm sticking with it.

Yogi Tea "Women's Nursing Support" Another tea that is supposed to promote lactation.

Positives: Cheap and easy to get at a lot of grocery stores.

Negatives: Definitely tastes worse than the Traditional Medicinals tea.

The Bottom Line: It seems to increase supply as well as the Traditional Medicinals one, but I like the flavor of the TM better, so I'll stick with TM.

Drinking lots and lots of water. This definitely helps the most. Of all things I've tried, this is the one I'd recommend as it has made the most difference.

Dark Beer - drinking a dark beer is supposed to increase supply.

Positives: It's beer! "Honey, I have to have a beer. It's for the baby."

Negatives: Of course you have to time your beer properly so that you aren't intoxicating your breast milk. That's easy enough though.

The Bottom Line: I've tried a few different dark beers, and the Sam Adams that I tried really made a difference. That was the first time I ever in my life pumped 6 oz. Other dark beers seem to help, but nothing like that Sam Adams.

Oatmeal. There is some debate as to what type of oatmeal is effective for increasing supply. I've heard that the Steel Cut Quaker Oatmeal does the trick, but it takes like 20 minutes to make. I've found time to make it once so far. Instant oatmeal is far easier.

Positives: I love oatmeal. I could eat it 3 times a day if I had to, so this one was easy.

Negatives: The steel cut, while delicious, takes forever to make.

The Bottom Line: I think it helps, and I have to eat anyway, so the oatmeal stays as a regular part of my diet.

Power Pumping. I've done this once, a few days after my supply dropped hard, and it made a difference. I think I need to dedicate an hour every weekend to power pumping to see if I can get any further increases.


Shawnda said...

Thanks for the write-up! I have a dumb question... Sam Adams. Was it the standard or one of their specialty brews? My dark beer doesn't seem to have any effect on my output (other than it makes me a slightly happier and more relaxed pumper) so I'm thinking about picking up a different sixer this weekend.

Jenn Collins said...

Shawnda - I honestly don't remember. I ordered it at a restaurant. I remember asking for the darkest dark beer they had, and they brought me a Sam Adams. I'm no beer expert but I do plan on continuing this particular experiment. If I find the right brew, I'll post an update.