How to Get Your Milk Supply to Come In

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How to Get Your Milk Supply to Come In

My baby spent her first 10 days in the NICU, so I had to really work to get my milk to come in before I was able to get her home, and feeding off the boob reguarly. Whether you've got a happy, healthy baby at home with you or not, establishing your milk supply can be challenging. Here are some of the things that helped me do so successfully!

 We eventually got there--so can you! <3

We eventually got there--so can you! <3

Create a Relaxing Environment

One of the most important things to establishing a healthy milk supply is a low-stress environment. If there are a lot of stressful triggers, such as bright, harsh lights, loud noises, needy relatives, or other kids and pets that are stressing you out, you have to find a way to minimize those until your supply is established.

Yappy dogs can go to the kennel or stay with a friend. Grandma can come help with the older kids. Your partner / co-parent can be enlisted to help with chores and keeping things in order while you take a few days to work on your supply. This is a very, very short time in the grand scheme of things. If you have to put aside other priorities for the sake of successfully establishing your milk supply, it may be worth it in the long run.

To promote relaxation, keep the lights low. Take a long, hot shower. Play soothing music. Wear comfortable clothing. Lounge on soft surfaces and stay cozy. Sip tea, eat yummy, nourishing foods. Drink tons of water. Nap, especially with your baby on your chest. All of these things produce oxytocin and promote a healthy milk supply.

Pump Often

Nobody enjoys pumping, but it's one of the keys to get your supply up if it's lagging. I rented a hospital-grade pump for 3 weeks after Sammi arrived so that I was getting extra good stimulation. Your home pump is great for extracting milk later on, but you really need a hospital-grade pump to stimulate your supply in the early stages. Ask a lactation consultant about options.

Here's the schedule I maintained while my baby was in the NICU to ensure I was pumping frequently, but also staying on top of self-care and being a good care giver to my baby:

 See more at the  NICU Mommy Survival  Guide post.

See more at the NICU Mommy Survival Guide post.

Get Skin-to-Skin

Being skin-to-skin with your baby releases loads of oxytocin and is one of the best stimulants for a strong milk supply. In our case, Sammi had so many cords, tubes, and wires attached to her that skin-to-skin was difficult and often stressful in the NICU. But one of the lactation nurses at the hospital advised that I take some of Sammi's blankets home with me, so I could smell them while I was pumping and simulate a skin-to-skin experience.

My husband teased that I was a "baby huffer" as I sat there pumping with her blankets over my face. But this really did help me feel a sense of closeness with my baby even when she wasn't with me at home. Take advantage of every second of closeness with your little one! And if you have to pump when she's not around, use her blankets or clothes to help tell your body, "my baby is here and needs milk!"

Not everyone is able to succeed at establishing a milk supply. Some moms just plain don't want to, and that's fine. But if you're determined to breast feed, and you want that supply to come raging in, hopefully these tips help you get there. All I know is you've got to take amazing care of yourself and consult with the experts on your particular situation, such as pediatricians, lactation consultants, and postpartum midwives. If I could do it, so can you, Mama!

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Exercise Tips for New Moms

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Exercise Tips for New Moms

Being the mother of a newborn is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. Once you get past the first six weeks and are cleared to exercise by your doctor, you may start getting the itch to begin showing your body love through movement again. Here are some ways that I've been integrating gentle, loving movement into my routine as a new mom, in honor of National Women's Health Week.

Tummy Time is for Mommies Too!

There's so much emphasis on baby's physical development as an infant. One of the things moms are urged to do is have their baby spend time on her tummy each day, to encourage physical development of the neck, back, and shoulder muscles. 

But tummy time isn't just for babies! It's recommended that you join your little one on the floor during tummy time anyhow. So why not make this mommy's tummy time as well? Do a few gentle ab exercises, like these which encourage the healing of diastasis recti, or just stretch and get a feel for being in your body again. I love to use a foam roller or rubber ball to roll out any muscle aches during tummy time.

As long as you're not so engrossed in your exercise that you're not keeping an eye on your little one, it's fine for mommy's to take advantage of tummy time for their own self-care as well!

 4 weeks postpartum, when I first began doing gentle exercises to heal my diastasis recti.

4 weeks postpartum, when I first began doing gentle exercises to heal my diastasis recti.

Stroller Strides

One of the first (and only, for awhile) ways that I began showing my body love through movement after birth was getting out for a stroller walk with the baby each day. It was around the six week mark that I could do this without aggravating my pelvic area (I had an episiotomy at birth, and it took about six full weeks for those stitches to heal). 

I began with 10 minute walks, and gradually built up to being able to walk for an hour or more. I discovered that my baby is a great sleeper in the car seat. So by strapping her in there for 45 minutes - 1.5 hours, I am ensuring she gets a really quality nap, as well as giving myself an opportunity for a little exercise.

Bring your diaper bag, a bottle with some expressed breast milk or formula, and plenty of water for yourself so that you're prepared for any issues that might arise while you're out of the house!

 At six weeks postpartum, I began getting out to show my body love through stroller walks.

At six weeks postpartum, I began getting out to show my body love through stroller walks.

Ditch "Date Night" for Fitness Dates

As parents of a newborn, you and your partner may not be getting many opportunities for date night! When you do decide to leave the baby with a trusted care giver for a little one-on-one time, why not opt for a fitness date?

My husband and I are usually so tired in the evening, we don't find that the traditional dinner date is the best experience. Plus, it's expensive and not super comfortable when you get dressed up, go sit in a restaurant, and pay for a meal. We've found we get better quality time when we go for a hike, go paddle boarding, or take a fitness class together.

You don't have to be constrained by the traditional definition of "date night" when making time with your significant other. If what you'd really like to do when you get a sitter is take the opportunity to get moving with your S.O., do that instead!

Self Care is More than Just Physical

National Women's Health Week is a great reminder to show your body love through movement. But it's not just about exercise!

It's important to also go for a well-woman visit (checkup) and preventive screenings, eat healthy, pay attention to your mental health--including getting enough sleep and managing stress--as well as to avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, texting while driving, and not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet.

 

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