One night, around midnight, I was feeling especially exhausted from the long day of work and “change-feed-put down to sleep” (repeat 11x times 2) routine. Half asleep, I propped up my hospital grade Medela breast pump on my night stand, plugged in the necessary parts (which look like you’re about to build a handheld periscope or a mini beer funnel), plugged in and was ready to go. After my session completed, I took the bottles off without their caps and placed them in my lap for just a second. As I turned to put away my phone, I noticed that I spilled the milk on me, the comforter, and onto the floor. “Nooooooo!!!!” I literally cried over spilled milk. That stuff is liquid gold! I wasn’t producing as much as I had hoped at the time (especially since I had two mouths to feed who were a month old), so I decided to take my milk production into overdrive. Here’s what I did:
- Supply and demand. I got on a breastfeeding & pumping schedule where I would alternate nursing the kids, pump, or tandem breastfeed when the three of us were up for it (using a Twin-Z pillow. It’s amazing!). Any lactation consultant will tell you that breastfeeding increases one’s supply since a child can extract more milk than a pump, and the more you do it, the more you produce. I didn’t exclusively breastfeed since my babies were given bottles at the hospital, but I nursed and continue to nurse as many feeds as I can and pump the rest. I just listen to my body’s cues and take breaks if I need to rest.
- Water. This seems like a no-brainer, but believe me, good ol’ H2O works wonders. When nursing, you need the additional liquid intake to flush out toxins and keep your body hydrated in order to produce milk. I drink a pitcher of water a day (8-10 eight oz. glasses). I always drink a full glass during a feed or pump session.
- Oatmeal. Oatmeal is an excellent source of iron and since many mothers face maternal anemia, the high doses of iron in oatmeal and bran cereals help increase supply. I eat oatmeal (I love Red Mill Rolled Oats) with walnuts, blueberries, and a touch of honey every morning.
- Warm Compress. Sometimes low blood circulation is the reason for inadequate milk supply. You can combat this with warm compresses with a small towel or Lansinoh Therapearl 3-in-1, which I highly recommend. You can use it as hot therapy (for plugged ducts and let down), cold therapy (for pain relief from soreness), or as an aid while pumping.
- Fenugreek. Fenugreek contains phytoestrogens that are believed to stimulate sweat gland activity and since mammary glands are modified sweat glands, consumption can create an increase in milk supply. Methi is the Hindi term for fenugreek and it’s a staple in Indian cooking. I take methi seeds raw (1/2 a tsp) swallowed with an 8 oz. glass of water every morning. If you can stand the bitter taste, you can also soak the seeds in water overnight, boil the solution with the seeds, strain it, and drink the tea. You can even ask your mom or mom-in-law (God bless them!) to make you methi ladoos which are an age-old cure-all for new moms. Here’s a recipe we used. When you make these ladoos in a big batch, put half in the fridge and the other half in the freezer (they last for 6 months!)
- Fennel. Fennel seeds are a known galactagogue, or substance that helps the body produce more milk. In addition, fennel seeds aid with digestion and prevent colic pain in babies. Add a tablespoon of fennel to one cup of hot water and let it steep for 30 minutes. Drink this tea twice daily for best results. You can also mix 1/2 cup of fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and rock candy (misri) in a bowl and grind it all up into a powder. Have one teaspoon with milk three times a day. If nothing else, you can add fennel into your cooking and masala chai. It’s the best.
- Cumin Seeds. Cumin seeds are believed to stimulate milk production and also combat acidity, constipation, and bloating. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds with a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Take this mixture with a warm glass of milk before bed. If you want a solution that’s more concentrated, you can add 2 teaspoons of cumin to 1/2 cup of boiling water. Strain the cup and add 1/2 cup of milk and 1 teaspoon of honey for taste.
- Cinnamon. According to Ayurveda, cinnamon may help improve the flavor of your breast milk and babies seem to like it. Mix a pinch of cinnamon powder with 1/2 teaspoon of honey and drink it with warm milk. You can also add cinnamon to your tea.
- Garlic. Garlic is also a known galactagogue. According to studies, nursing mothers who eat garlic tend to feed longer and babies seem to like the flavor of the milk. Grate 3 garlic cloves. Boil the garlic in water so that it is reduced to 1/4 the portion. Add a cup of milk and bring it to a boil again. Remove from heat, strain, and 1/2 teaspoon of honey. Drink this elixir in the morning.
- Supplements. I take a lot of pills. Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle, Fennel Seeds, and Malunggay are meant to increase milk production. For good measure, I also take my prenatal capsule, Immune Support gummies, and a probiotic. I know my body only retains what it needs and discards the rest, but I feel this miracle mix is working for me.
- Lactation Cookies. These special cookies contain ingredients like brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, flax seed, and whole oats, will all impact milk production. Shout out to What’s Up Moms’ awesome recipe. Watch and bake along here.
These Ayurvedic home remedies have been passed down for generations in my family and I managed to find variations of these recipes online. What I love most is that they are all natural, which means no side effects! Let me know if these tricks work for you. And if nothing else, make sure you close your pump bottles so you’ll never have to cry over spilled milk!