Supply and Demand

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It’s hard to believe, but my little Oscar just turned six months old. He is rolling over, trying to sit up, babbling constantly, chewing on everything, and will soon have three teeth popping through.

He loves to eat, so much so that I have been struggling to keep up with his appetite. Up until just recently we have exclusively fed him breast milk, either by nursing or giving him expressed milk in a bottle at daycare.

In the beginning my milk supply was out of control. While on maternity leave I would have to pump at least once during the day and once over night, in addition to his normal feedings. If I didn’t pump I would become engorged and leak in my sleep. It was inconvenient to have to wake up and pump, but it helped build up a stockpile of frozen milk.

Last month was an incredibly busy one at work and I was lucky to be able to pump once while at work, rather than my normal two times; indeed, most of the time I didn’t even have time for a lunch break or I used my lunch break to pump. This lead to my milk supply starting to dwindle, in both what I was producing and what I had in storage. All the while, Oscar started to want to eat larger portions. My freezer now only holds a scant three bags of milk and I find myself trying to research galactogogues to increase how much milk I am producing.

For those unfamiliar with galactogogues, they are substances, either pharmaceutical or natural, which are used to increase lactation. According to, commonly used herbal galactagogues are fenugreek, blessed thistle, and alfalfa. If you look on Pinterest, you will find a wide array of recipes for cookies, smoothies, and other foods with ingredients that are also said to aid in increasing milk supply, like flax seed, oats, yogurt, brewer’s yeast, etc.

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I already eat oatmeal with flax seed, chia, vegetable-based protein powder, and some Greek yogurt each morning, so I didn’t think that it was worth it to make any special “lactation smoothies ” or “lactation cookies,” although these lactation cookies look pretty fabulous.

I have also been trying to drink a lot of extra water each day in hopes that it would help make more milk.

I started with taking Nature’s Way Premium Fenugreek Seed capsules several times a day. I noticed that I started to smell faintly like maple syrup, which I didn’t mind but it kind of made me crave pancakes. After a quick Google search I found out that fenugreek is used in making imitation maple syrup, hence the smell. I didn’t see an increase in my milk supply at all for the two weeks I was taking it. Oscar started to be fussy and seemed to have a lot of gas. I had read that in some infants fenugreek can cause upset stomach, so I decided to stop taking the fenugreek supplement.

I then began drinking Traditional Medicinals Mother’s Milk Organic Tea, which I found at Wal-Mart. It contains anise, fennel, fenugreek, and coriander. I was hesitant to try it since my baby seems to be sensitive to fenugreek, but I figured with the tea I would be consuming a much smaller amount than when I was using the fenugreek capsules. So far, I have not observed Oscar having any gas or an upset tummy. I have been drinking two cups of tea during the day at work and one cup at night before bed. Luckily, it does not taste like maple syrup, something I was afraid of after trying the fenugreek. Instead, to me it tastes like chamomile with a light licorice flavor. After only two days I have seen a pretty consistent result in the amount of milk I am pumping. In a normal pumping session, I had been pumping two ounces on the left and five on the right, but after drinking the tea for a couple days I have been pumping three ounces on the left and six ounces on the right. I am going to continue drinking the tea, as it seems that it may be helping. Unfortunately, with all the extra water I have been drinking and the addition of three cups of tea, I have been making a ton of trips to the restroom.

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Last week I began feeding Oscar rice cereal at supper time. The first time I had mixed the cereal with only milk and he didn’t care for it. It was fun to watch him explore the cereal in his mouth with a perplexed look on his face; he spit most of it out that time. The next night I mixed a little bit of plain applesauce in and he did very well, so we have done that each night since.

Have you ever tried to increase your milk supply? Did anything help you? I’d love to hear from you.

Disclaimer: The opinions and reviews of the products listed above are my own and I have received no payment or other compensation for reviews of products or services.


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