Breast Milk: What I Would Do + Best Options Available

Aug 22, 2022
Dr. Kimberly with her three children.

There is so much chatter all around us pertaining to the infant formula shortage. Yes, that is an issue,

but today, I want to talk about supporting the moms who breastfeed! After the adrenaline-charged

experience of bringing a child into this world, breastfeeding is not always easy! The worst part is that

women are not always as informed or as supported as is needed to work through the challenges of

breastfeeding a new baby. This is a topic very near and dear to my heart (no pun intended). So let’s

talk about what a mom can do to increase her chances of successful breastfeeding for as long as she

and baby wish!

Let’s Talk Milk Supply

Many of us start off thinking that since breastfeeding is a “natural” thing, once a baby is born,

breastfeeding will be a natural and easy process. While it happens this way for some women, most

mamas have a bit of a learning curve. A big concern for new moms is that they don’t make enough

breast milk. Their babies cry and mamas automatically think it’s because baby is hungry/not getting

enough milk.

Yes, babies cry when they’re hungry, but they also cry for every other need considering crying is their

only means of communicating. And yes, some women, because of breast surgery/trauma or other

medical conditions or situations, have low milk supplies. However, most mamas need to live by three words: Supply and demand!

Quite simply, each time your milk is removed from the breast (via nursing or a breast pump), your

breasts pick up on the cue that they need to make more milk. Many factors can impact how this

process runs in the beginning. For example, if your baby has a poor latch, he/she might not be telling

your body how much his/her body truly needs. When mamas start to worry that their babies are not

eating enough (because of low weight gain, frequent crying/hunger, lack of wet/dirty diapers—all valid

concerns!), they often reach for formula to supplement. Sadly, the addition of formula will often result in

a reduction in demand (because your body isn’t getting the message to make more milk at each

feeding) and will decrease the amount of milk it produces / AKA the supply.

Here’s the good news! As I have shared in previous blogs and social media posts, I’ve helped

thousands of women over the years to increase or re-establish their supply! So, what can a new mama

do to build or boost her milk supply? Here are some suggestions!

Foods to Increase Breast Milk

Fill up on foods that will increase breast milk (and offer plenty of other health benefits)! My favorites

are fruits (all fruits but especially wild blueberries, mango, red pitaya, banana, orange, avocado,

coconut water, or other fresh juices), raw honey, leafy greens (including sprouts + microgreens), and

vegetables (all vegetables but especially potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash). Additionally, if you are

going to eat grains, enjoy the highest quality and most easily digestible grains like millet and quinoa.

Mind your calories and be sure you are getting enough! If you are working to remove the “troublemaker

foods” be sure you are bringing in more quantity or higher calorie items. Keep in mind, when mamas

are told to increase protein and go low carb, it can actually have the opposite effect on milk production.

“In order to understand the foods that aid in breast milk supply, we must first understand the makeup of

breast milk itself. Breast milk is mostly sugar and on average it only has 1 to 1.5% protein. Some

healthy women have breast milk that contains an even lower percentage of protein at 0.75% while

others have up to 2.5% protein. Every woman’s body is different. It’s very low in fat and very high in

carbohydrates. This is critical to understand because unfortunately, women are often afraid of eating a

piece of fruit because of what they’ve been told by well-meaning but misguided health professionals.

The reason breast milk is so high in sugar is for the baby’s development and growth. Surprised? Yes,

baby’s development and growth. The glucose needs to be very high in order to develop the brain of the

baby. The baby needs more carbohydrates than anything else in order to grow and develop properly.”

-Anthony William

Supplements

Consider supplements such as liver-supporting B-12, zinc, vitamin C, and milk thistle, as well as

adrenal-supporting magnesium, lemon balm, and ashwagandha. These supplements help to support

mama’s body and immune system and also provide some gentle support to baby via mama’s

breastmilk.

Breast Milk Supportive Herbs

Consider supportive herbs including red raspberry leaf which enhances and fortifies breast milk

production and nettle leaf which boosts breast milk supply. Additionally, fennel can be used to stimulate

consistent milk flow. Chamomile is also good for adrenal health resulting in a more relaxed mom which

will help her to produce more milk.

Don’t underestimate the value of physical contact with your baby! Do skin-to-skin as much as

possible!!! Take advantage of the first several days/weeks/months when you’re able to sit or lie down

with baby being your only priority. If you have things that absolutely need to be done (and for YOU to

do them), baby wear. One of our favorite things to do is to throw on an old tank top (you could also use

a baby carrier) and stick baby between your skin and the fabric and wear baby against your chest as

you go about your day. The bottom line is that skin-to-skin contact with your baby will signal your body

to produce more milk.

Nurse

NURSE, NURSE, NURSE! Yes, it’s exhausting, and no, you don’t feel like you’re getting anything

done! (Just a reminder, you’re getting the most important work “done!!”) Try your best to simply nurse

on demand, meaning whenever baby is hungry! Too many mamas get hung up on the clock and

wonder if its normal when baby wants to eat every 2-3 hours for a while. (Hint: This is TOTALLY

normal! And it’s honestly short-lived in the grand scheme of things, I promise!!!)

Pump

If you’re going to be away from your baby, don’t forget to pump! As discussed earlier, it’s all about

supply and demand. If you are not with baby (because you’re back to work, running errands, etc.), you

still need to express milk as often as your baby eats, so plan pumping session accordingly. Likewise, if

you do any supplementing (more info on supplementing coming up!), always pump when baby eats.

This keeps your body on baby’s schedule and helps keep the signals going that it should make more

milk.

Another suggestion for mamas who are nursing/supplementing is to use a Supplemental Nursing

System (or SNS for short). An SNS is a means to provide your baby with additional calories while

nursing by way of a very thin, flexible tube that is attached to mom’s nipples and releases additional

milk and supplements as the baby feeds. The hope is that the use of the SNS would be temporary but

would help to keep babies at the breast and to stimulate mom’s milk supply. The milk used for

supplementation could be one’s own milk or donor milk. (Bonus: This can also be done for adopted

babies so they can be fed at the breast!)

Consider Donor Milk as the Next Best Option

If you’re still working on boosting your supply and wish for your baby to consume breast milk OR if you

need additional calories for your baby in addition to the breast milk he/she is already receiving,

consider donor milk. There are several ways to go about finding milk for your baby.

Find A Milk Bank

Click here to find a location near you.

Connect With Moms

Join safe online communities on Facebook or other social networks to connect

with other moms that have similar wellness views.

Let Dr. Kimberly’s community help! We are happy to share urgent requests (via our social media

channels) for donor milk. Reach out with an already created shareable post (age of baby, location, how

to reach you) if we can spread the word to find your baby some milk!

Another Option for Babies Over 6 Months and Cleared for Solids by Your Pediatrician

So what if you need another way to stretch feedings? Once your baby is at least 6 months old and is

cleared by your pediatrician for solids, I’ve got a great option for you: Avocado mylk!

Avocado mylk is a combination of avocado, banana, and coconut water (and barley grass juice powder

if you’d like) and is a tasty and nutrient-packed option to add more calories to your baby’s day. All of

the ingredients in this “recipe” are powerhouses for babies. Bananas, for example, are filled with

potassium which is critical for brain health and brain development. They also help to build strong

muscles and strengthen the nervous system. Coconut water is a highly nutritious, cleansing, and

nutritious juice packed with valuable vitamins and minerals. It’s one of the highest sources of

electrolytes known to man. As for avocados? There might not be a better food (outside of breast milk,

of course) for babies!

“Due to its nutritional profile, it is one of the closest foods to mother’s breast milk, being a complete and

easily assimilable food with protein ratios that are equal to breast milk.” -Anthony William

The ingredients of this “milk” contain a perfect (and delicious) combination of glucose, protein, and fat,

which will help to satisfy your sweet little one when provided in conjunction with breastmilk. Avocado

mylk can also be very helpful when provided to young children as part of the weaning process. I have

personally and successfully used this milk as the nursing relationships with my babies were coming to

an end. It can be given via bottle-feeding, a cup with a straw, or even an open cup.

What would I do if my baby needed supplemental milk before reaching 6 months of age?

I would work closely with a licensed provider to come up with the safest option for my baby. As a

licensed provider myself, I caution all Mama’s in reporting the use of anything other than breastmilk or

formula before a baby has been cleared to start solid foods.

Dear breastfeeding mamas, you’ve got this!

Whether or not there’s going to be a prolonged shortage of formula in the near or distant future, we are

here to support and cheer on all breastfeeding mamas!! As I shared today, there are many ways to

work on building and/or boosting a milk supply, and some other options to consider for adding calories

if/when needed. I hope that this information is helpful and will result in more babies being nourished

with the miracle that is mama’s milk. For additional support for expecting mamas, new mamas, or those

with goals of being mamas, please see options for services on the main landing page.

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