The number one question on every new mum’s mind is how to increase milk supply. This week I’ll be discussing how fennel and a few other things can help to increase your milk supply.
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Using fennel to increase milk supply
My milk * touch wood* was strong and full from day 1. The second my baby was placed on my chest he went straight for the boob and started eating. Yes, we know that the first few days the milk is different (but nevertheless very nutritional to baby) but even when my breasts enlarged by 10 times their normal size and the milk came out, it was full and the flow was great. The baby had a hard time keeping up with the flow. Even managed to nearly choke on the heavy flow. I wholeheartedly cannot say whether that is a good thing or not but the baby was eating and my milk production was great.
It is, of course, possible that when your milk supply is quite good, and your breasts haven’t been emptied properly at the last feeding, you may experience clogged milk ducts which will need dealing with otherwise it may lead to infection. Be sure to check out my breastfeeding essentials blog post on how to clear a clogged milk duct.
Side note: if your milk supply is not great or you find yourself losing your milk supply, please do not feel angry and discouraged. The more you breastfeed the more your milk will continue to develop. This post isn’t to show off or upset you. I am merely sharing what it was like for me as every woman is different. But like everything and anything in life, breastfeeding takes time, effort and perseverance. Trust me my breastfeeding journey for the first 3 months was hell. I was in so much pain that I really didn’t want to continue nursing my newborn any longer. However, I kept it up, battled through the sheer pain, and after a little bit of time it got easier. Of course, no judgement here if you want to stop breastfeeding and formula feed – #fedisbest
My tip if the week is this: one way to increase your milk supply to help you nurse your little one is FENNEL. Fennel is a plant and apparently a part of the carrot family – weird – but that is what Wikipedia says anyway. Fennel was largely popular amongst the Mediterranean countries but it is now well-known all over the world. People use fennel and fennel seeds as part of their cooking so both can be eaten or drank.
There are quite a few health benefits to consuming fennel and these include regulating blood pressure, reducing water retention, constipation, indigestion, IBS, bloating, helping with colic in infants, reduces asthma symptoms apparently, purifying blood, improving eyesight (really??), helping weight loss and great for acne.
You can use fennel in the form of the actual plant itself and add it in your meals or you can use fennel seeds to cook with too or consume as tea. I personally haven’t cooked much with fennel but have definitely used fennel seeds to brew fennel water and drink fennel tea.
I started using fennel after giving birth to help baby with his constipation, indigestion and colic. We would brew fennel seeds (US link) and give him a teaspoon of the fennel water to drink. Another thing I would do drink it as a cup of brewed tea which passes onto him through my milk.
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If you don’t fancy brewing seeds and all that mess that comes with it, then you can just go straight for the Fennel Tea (US link). I buy mine from Amazon (with my Prime membership – so I actually get it VERY fast) in packs of 4 and the price is amazing. Totally a saver. I brew one cup of Fennel tea every day. This helps my digestion, baby’s digestion (through my milk) and of course helps my milk production.
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My milk supply seems to get lower during certain times of the day. This usually happens when baby nurses non-stop and at these times I need to do something to ensure my milk supply comes back quickly. People say that naturally milk is less in the evenings and more in the mornings. It is not entirely correct in my case as baby feeds all the time and I have only seen my milk naturally be more when I have managed to go for more than 4 hours of not feeding.
This tea works for me but I cannot 100% guarantee that it will work for you. It should do but I am not in the market to give false hope or lies to you guys. I speak from my experience and share what has worked for me. If it works for you too then woohoo great.
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Motherkind Baby Tea
With the Fennel Tea comes the Pukka Herbs Motherkind Baby Tea (US link) that I accidentally read about and tried. I have been drinking this every day (once a day) as well and find that it does help. It contains the following herbs: Fennel Seed (Sweet Fennel Seed, Bitter Fennel Seed) (50%), Shatavari Root (20%), Aniseed (12%), Lemongrass, Turmeric Root, Lemongrass Essential Oil Flavour. I really love the taste – as it is not bitter but not sweet either. Kind of perfect combination that sits well with your taste buds.
Balanced Healthy Diet and plenty of water!
Everyone knows that the best way to ensure you have plenty of milk supply is by eating properly, frequently and drinking lots of water. My top tip here? have a bottle of water attached to your hip, just like your phone no doubt is. For me as soon as baby grabbed my nipple and started feeding, this crazy dehydrated feeling hit me like the Sahara desert. I screamed inside for water. It’s fascinating how the human body works and what feelings, cravings and emotions take over whilst breastfeeding. Wellbeing thirsty and hungry is a huge side effect of breastfeeding.
Some foods that help with the production of milk include walnuts, papaya, spinach, garlic, fennel seeds, oats/ oatmeal, salmon (but not more than once a week I would say), asparagus, cumin seeds and apricots to name a few. Please do note though that these are just things that I found helped me so please do your own research and use your own judgement before trying anything. If you would like more related information for breastfeeding foods or even pregnancy-safe foods – let me know below in the comments and I can put together another post covering your requested topics.
Top Tip: eat a healthy balanced diet of good food and an extra 500 calories as you burn more whilst breastfeeding, which I’m sure most of you love!!
Certain liquids that have been known to help with the production of milk include water, pomegranate juice, lactation teas as mentioned above and milk (whether it is cow’s milk or Almond milk. I have been told that to ensure your child does not have an intolerance to cow’s milk, you should drink it whilst breastfeeding. I myself couldn’t do this, to be honest as I feel unwell after drinking cow’s milk. For me, it’s Almond milk all the way.
I tried to stay away from caffeine, fizzy drinks, pop and of course alcohol. The only thing I ended up drinking sometimes was coca-cola 🙁 My usual Starbucks or Pret coffee or frappuccino was decaf! I have also been told that orange juice or any other citrus juices should be kept to no more than 1 glass a day.
It really helps to take your vitamins. I personally take the Pregnacare Breastfeeding multivitamin pack (here is the US Link). This ensures I receive everything and in the correct dosages as baby strips me of all the goodness I intake. Everyone knows at this point your hair falls out, teeth go bad and skin dries up. I didn’t feel such side effects when I was pregnant but I sure as hell felt them whilst breastfeeding. In month 2, just like my hairdresser warned, my hair started falling out excessively. I actually have quite thick hair so it wasn’t crazy noticeable. But still noticeable enough to see that I was shedding like a cat in the Spring. I was quite upset about this. My baby was taking all my vitamins and I had to just let him 🙂
The Pregnacare brand is quite good as I used them during my pregnancy (US Link) (and even before during conception US Link). I found that they really did help me. My skin didn’t break out like it usually does when I take a vitamin so that was reassuring. Plus I looked positively glowing!
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Tell us about your tips for milk production??
Til next time XX Monica XX