Tips to Have a Steady Breast Milk Supply

By Honeylet Joy Bello-Reyes

Mommy Honeylet and baby Jihan
Breastfeeding is not just a choice - it is an opportunity, a great one indeed.

I was once a breastfed child. Growing up, I am always reminded of the fact that Nanay breastfed me until I was four; so when I became a mom, it has been an ultimate goal for me to also breastfeed my child not just for the first six months but for as long as he would want.

For first time moms like me, breastfeeding may sound difficult. YES. But with proper guidance and strong support from people around us, it would be a very smooth and enjoyable journey. Always remember that women have two special powers - the power to carry and bring a child out into the world and the power to feed him from our own body.

Many people asked me how I was able to breastfed J for 33 months now (and still counting coz he does not show signs of weaning yet) even if I am a full time working mom. I am also still expressing milk up until this time. MY ANSWER? Determination is the key.


Let me share with you important points that a breastfeeding mom should look into which could help her maintain a steady supply and breastfeed longer:

1. TRUST YOUR BODY
Our body is designed to produce milk so never ever doubt yourself. Though it is important to note that mature milk only comes 3-5 days after delivery, babies should get the colostrum (the first milk that comes out) from their mothers upon delivery. That is why UNANG YAKAP protocol should be every birthing facility's practice.

You can watch a video of Unang yakap following this link.

2. BREASTFEED ON DEMAND
Because breastmilk can be digested easily, babies tend to nurse more frequently. They need to be fed at least 1 to 1.5 oz per hour. I followed this formula when I returned to work, but during times when we are together, I just let him latch whenever he wants to.

3. ACHIEVE A GOOD LATCH
Inability to get the proper latch is one of the reasons why most moms end up giving up on breastfeeding. Being familiar on different nursing positions and see what works for you will make breastfeeding more comfortable.

4. FOLLOW A ROUTINE PUMPING SCHEDULE
For working moms, we should express milk at least every 2 to 3 hours. When J was younger, I pump before I go to work, during lunchtime, once in the afternoon, and once at bedtime. It should be taken into account, however, that milk expression should be done after 6 weeks for the breastmilk supply to stabilize. For stay at home mothers, a breastpump is not a necessity. You can learn how to hand express using the Marmet technique - a manual technique of hand expression and assisting the milk ejection reflex (MER). See video here.

5. BUILD YOUR STASH BEFORE REPORTING FOR WORK
While some do not need a stash because they are directly breastfeeding, most full time working moms need to build a stash for emergency purposes. BREASTMILK IS ROBUST. Frozen breastmilk can last for 6 months to a year.

6. EAT A BALANCED DIET, KEEP YOURSELF WELL HYDRATED, AND AVOID BEING STRESSED
Breastmilk is perfect, with the right amount of nutrients, the right temperature, can be easily digested and absorbed by the body. But we, mothers, should remember to take care of ourselves for us to take care of our little ones. Eating a balanced diet, drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day, and avoiding stress are essential for breastfeeding moms. You can also take GALACTAGOGUES such as malunggay, fenugreek, brewer's yeast (just to name a few) to help you boost milk supply and continue taking your prenatal vitamins.

7. NEVER SUPPLEMENT WITH FORMULA MILK
Breastfeeding follows the law of demand and supply. The more you breastfeed, the more milk you produce. So when you supplement with formula, your body will be told that your baby needs less milk, thus your milk supply will dwindle down. Remember that the best formula in the world is your baby plus your breastmilk.

8. FIND A STRONG SUPPORT SYSTEM
Whether it's your husband, other members of the family, peer counselors, or even online breastfeeding support group, finding a very strong support system will encourage you to breastfeed, will boost your confidence, and push you to your limits.

9. BE AN ADVOCATE. SPREAD BREASTFEEDING AWARENESS. 
Becoming a nursing mom made me love breastfeeding more that it made me want to spread the love by teaching and encouraging new and expectant mothers to breastfeed and to embrace everything about it. I am always excited when I hear questions like "Paano ba magpadede nang ganyan katagal sayo or Paano mo nagawa kahit nagtatrabaho ka?" Being a good example especially to my colleagues, finding all the answers to all possible questions, and always reminding myself how beautiful my journey is will always be my goals.

10. PRAY
Pray not for an abundant milk supply but for the ability to persevere and continue breastfeeding against all odds. THANK HIM for our special powers and hope that many more mothers will not waste these exclusive powers given to us. And at the end of each day, THANK HIM for the GREAT OPPORTUNITY HE has given you – an opportunity to be the ultimate source of nourishment – which only your own body can provide.

To end, let me leave you something from Sarah Buckley: "Breastfeeding reminds us of the universal truth of abundance; the more we give out, the more we are filled up, and that divine nourishment - the source from which we all draw - is, like a mother's breast, ever full and ever flowing."

About the Author:
Honeylet is a mom to Jihan Miguel who chose to breastfeed his baby from Day 1 until now who is 35 months old. She will let him latch until baby weans by himself.