Nikki C is wearing the 'Bamboo Workout Tee' in white/grey.
At Cadenshae, we asked hundreds of mothers around the world if they breastfed for longer than they expected with their last baby...around two thirds of them did! With that great stat in mind, we then decided to ask what their secrets were so we could share some fantastic tidbits with our community!
What you will learn in this article:
- How to increase breast milk supply.
- Other methods to increase breast milk production.
- What foods help produce breast milk?
- Best foods for increasing milk supply.
- One breast producing less milk - is it normal?
- How to increase milk supply in one breast.
- How to decrease milk supply in one breast.
- How many mothers used a lactation consultant?
- What can I expect from a lactation consultant?
- What helps to breastfeed longer?
- Benefits of breastfeeding longer.
- Is breastfeeding difficult?
- How long did you plan to breastfeed for?
- Words of wisdom to help you breastfeed longer.
1. How to increase breast milk supply.
Increasing breast milk is a demand and supply process. Therefore, naturally removing milk from your breasts more frequently is the most common and effective way to increase milk production, and fast. Of the breastfeeding mothers we surveyed who tried to increase their milk supply, 44% had the most success via breastfeeding more frequently and/or pumping. This means less milk is reserved in between feeds, prompting the breasts to produce more milk.
2. Other methods to increase breast milk production.
According to our mothers, the best ways to increase breast milk production are by:
- 26% Breastfeeding more frequently.
- 24% Drinking more water (dehydration can decrease your milk supply).
- 18% Pumping/expressing.
- 14% Eating lactation cookies.
- 6% Taking supplements.
- 4% Medication (domperidone/motilium).
- 4% Drinking lactation tea.
- 3% Eating more of a certain type of whole food.
- 1% Making smoothies.
“I was prescribed motilium to help my supply. I took 60mg a day and after about a week it made a massive difference in increasing my breast milk supply.”
“I was prescribed domperidone for flow at the beginning, but mostly lots of water, and feeding more frequently helped me. I LOVE breastfeeding, despite the challenges we faced (we couldn't get my son to latch until his first month birthday, after his tongue tie was fixed, healed, and daily efforts to make things work).”
3. What foods help produce more breast milk?
Lactogenic foods are great options to add to your diet (in moderation) if you’re a mother who wants to produce breast milk naturally.
4. What are the best foods for increasing milk supply?
Our mums said the foods that helped them produce the most breast milk where:
- 50% Oats.
- 19% Brewer's yeast.
- 12% Fenugreek.
- 7% Leafy green vegetables i.e. spinach.
- 3% Malt products (Maltesers or Milo).
- 1% Fennel.
- 1% Blessed thistle.
- 1% Nuts.
- 1% Yams.
- 1% Brown rice.
- 4% Other (protein-rich foods, meat, dairy, flaxseed oil).
5. One breast producing less milk - is it normal?
It’s extremely common for one breast to produce less milk than the other. In fact, we discovered 71% of breastfeeding mothers have this issue.
6. How to increase milk supply in one breast?When we asked mums how they increased their milk supply in one breast, we found that 79% of them said the difference wasn’t actually enough to be deemed a real issue. However, the most common way to increase milk supply in one breast is to start each feed on the slow side to encourage more milk production. Babies feed more at the start, hence encouraging that breast to increase its supply. The next most common method is to pump on the less productive side after a feed and/or in between feeds.
7. How to decrease milk supply in one breast?Nursing mothers with oversupply issues on one side most commonly collect (with a pump) the let down from the fuller breast to relieve the pressure. Others with a less severe problem breastfeed on the larger side to relieve pressure first (while baby feeds more actively) and then they swap to the other side.
There were a few cases where nothing has worked to reduce the oversupply in one breast and this has unfortunately resulted in mastitis.
“I had huge problems with oversupply on one side and had to keep preferentially feeding from it more. In the end, I was treated for mastitis. Eventually though, my milk supply evened out enough that it was no longer an issue.”
8. How many mothers used a lactation consultant?
We found 43% of breastfeeding mothers have used the help of a lactation or breastfeeding consultant.
9. What can I expect from a lactation consultant?
The most valuable things our mothers learnt from their lactation consultant were:
- How to latch properly.
- How to tell a good latch vs. a shallow one.
- How to keep re-latching the baby correctly.
- The position of the baby's nose and chin for a good latch.
- How to flick your nipple into a newborn’s mouth to help get a good latch - “the flipple.”
- How to tell if baby is full and not just worn out.
- How to avoid cracked nipples and blocked milk ducts.
- Strategies for managing damaged nipples.
- How to use a nipple shield.
- Sideline breastfeeding.
- How to correct a tongue tie.
- How to follow your baby’s cues.
- Managing an oversupply of breast milk.
- The importance of posture and different positions for breastfeeding.
10. What helps to breastfeed longer?
- Great support (from partner, family, friends and work).
- Good nutrition and milk supply.
- Persistence. Not giving up when it gets tough.
- The bond that is created between mother and baby.
- Asking for help until you get what you need.
- Having a good start with the support of a lactation consultant.
- Clothing that makes it easy to breastfeed when out and about; exercising, at work or at home.
- Clothing that isn't obviously made for nursing.
- A good breast pump.
The majority of mums in our survey agreed, without a doubt, that Cadenshae’s nursing sports bras and maternity activewear helped them breastfeed for longer. This was most commonly due to:
- How much easier it makes breastfeeding.
- The increased confidence to get out and about.
- The ability to breastfeed anywhere, discreetly.
- Being able to feed more frequently, and on demand.
- Being able to discreetly pump in public.
- Mothers feeling like they're wearing ‘normal’ clothing.
- The fact the clothing makes it easier to feed when returning to exercise or work.
- The comfort factor throughout each stage.
Nikki C is wearing the 'Freedom Bra' and 'Classic Maternity Leggings,' both in bondi blue.
“The ease of feeding on-the-go allowed me to stay active, and I felt more confident to feed whilst out and about, thus supporting me to be able to continue breastfeeding for longer.”
“Allows me to feed my big baby in public. It seems like the older they get the more “frowned upon” it can be. So with subtle clothing it makes me more comfortable to feed him when we’re out!”
“With Cadenshae there are no restrictions on where or when baby is fed. I don’t feel like I have to wait and find the parent's room at the mall or hide in my car. If I’ve got a comfy seat at the cafe, I can breastfeed without anybody noticing.”
“It’s amazing to be able to go out in public and feel like you look normal.”
“Cadenshae’s clothing enables me to discreetly breastfeed, and gives me more confidence in public. It helps me get out of the house more.”
“Stylish clothing that fits perfectly into my lifestyle, allowing me to easily breastfeed while getting out to exercise for my sanity’s sake, and saving me a tonne of time.”
“Made it easy to get back into sports without having to worry about quitting breastfeeding.”
“The casual hoodie has made it possible to continue to breastfeed my baby in winter, without undressing.”
“I'm an exclusive pumper, so being able to pump discreetly in public is so important, otherwise I would have given up after a couple of months.”
“Having a nursing sports bra that actually supported ‘the girls’ during a workout! It made it easy to transition from a gym rat to a mama bear!”
“Helped with my ability to get back into netball, and my ability to feed on the sideline.”
11. What are the benefits of breastfeeding longer?
- Provides antibodies.
- Optimal growth and brain development.
- Convenience. The breast is always available.
- Minimises the consumption of processed milk.
- Better for baby’s digestion, and overall gut health.
- Better nutrition, health benefits and immune support for the baby.
- Helps mum burn calories.
- No need to sterilise bottles.
- Less to pack/prepare for outings.
- Reduces the risk of breast cancer.
- Emotional bonding, comfort and secure attachment parenting.
- Minimises allergies and asthma. “My family has a history of allergies and asthma. Studies show that breastfeeding will help minimise those, so that was my driving factor.”
- Provides faster recovery from colds and sickness. “I fed my daughter until she was 22 months old and I'm still feeding my son at 15 months. I find the biggest benefit is when they are sick or teething. It keeps their fluids up, provides nutrients and they feel comforted.”
- Saves money. “I bought Cadenshae breastfeeding clothes this time around because I was able to save money by breastfeeding for longer.”
12. Is breastfeeding difficult?
We asked mothers if breastfeeding was challenging, or easy for them. We learnt 56% of mothers found breastfeeding challenging, while 44% found it easy.
13. How long did you plan to breastfeed for?
The bullet points below show how long mums planned on breastfeeding for vs. how long they actually breastfed.
How long they planned to breastfeed:
- 1% - 1 month or less.
- 1% - 2 months.
- 4% - 3 months.
- 1% - 4 months.
- 0% - 5 months.
- 30% - 6 - 9 months.
- 36% - 9 - 12 months.
- 22% - 12 - 18 months.
- 4% - 18 - 24 months.
- 1% - More than 2 years.
How long they actually breastfed:
- 1% - I never breastfed.
- 4% - 1 month or less.
- 2% - 2 months.
- 3% - 3 months.
- 1% - 4 months.
- 2% - 5 months.
- 13% - 6 - 9 months.
- 24% - 9 - 12 months.
- 34% - 12 - 18 months.
- 12% - 18 - 24 months.
- 5% - More than 2 years.
14. Words of wisdom to help you breastfeed longer:
“Be persistent. It didn’t come naturally to me, but I worked hard at it and the benefits were so rewarding. It’s a bond with my babies I can’t describe. Have someone knowledgeable help you figure out a better way, and encourage you through.”
“Watch a technical video on how breastfeeding works. I always thought it was just nipple in the baby's mouth, but it’s so much more than that. Once I understood what I had to get my nipple to do/where it needed to go, it made so much more sense. Let the baby suck on your finger before latching so he/she is ready to suck (and not bite), bring baby to the breast, not the breast to the baby, and nipple shields aren't as awful as they're made out to be. Don’t neglect dry nipples, and seek help for a bad latch, promptly. Make sure you get yourself a stash of breastfeeding bras, as well as clothing you like and feel comfy in to make your breastfeeding journey much easier.”
“Don't give up on a hard day. Wait until day four and if you still feel overwhelmed, maybe try something to help make your journey easier. For me, it was dropping a 2am pumping session at five months so that I could rest. If you feel like giving up, try mixed feeding for a bit to take the pressure off. Some breast milk is better than none.”
“Breastfeeding is a skill. Latch is everything, if you can afford it, see a lactation consultant. Be kind to yourself as it takes practice and although we are told, ‘it’s natural,’ it’s still a skill that must be practiced and learned. It may be hard in the beginning, that’s okay and normal! The first month is the hardest and then it gets better. Hang in there, the struggle is worth it for the long term benefits.
“It takes a little time to adjust! I was always told, ‘if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong.’ I never knew that the first week or so while my body adjusted it would be a little painful. I asked three or four different lactation consultants in the hospital about my daughter’s latch because it hurt and they all assured me everything looked great. After about four days my nipples started healing and after a week it was smooth sailing!”
“Be flexible. It's okay if milk doesn't come in right away - mine took five days to come in and I had no issues with supply after that. Also, don't feel bad about using formula occasionally for mixed feeding - baby will be just fine. It's like a new job, it takes a good three to six months to actually get used to it. Everyone will have a different breastfeeding story. There’s no right or wrong. It won’t be easy at the beginning, but it’s worth trying to figure it out. Invest in a good set of bras and a good pump. Sometimes it’s easy, but when it’s not, get help right away.”
“Do what’s best for you, even if that means stopping breastfeeding. It doesn’t matter how long you are successfully breastfeeding for, things can easily go wrong, it’s normal and nothing you have done wrong. Try to express and offer a bottle at an early age, even if you don’t plan to go out, this way they get used to the bottle and another parent or caregiver can help you out occasionally so you can catch up on some sleep!”
“Relax, have a plan, and look after yourself mamas!”
Written by Nikki Clarke.