Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Supply Tip: Sleep and Rest

Disclaimer regarding supply: True low milk supply is rare. Percieved low milk supply, however, is one of the leading reasons women cite for giving up breastfeeding.

Genuine low milk supply is often the result of a medical condition: hypoplastic tubular breasts, sometimes in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, sometimes in women who have had breast surgery, and sometimes in women with tyroid disorders. If you don't fall into one of these categories, it is worth considering whether your milk supply issues might be either perceived, or real but fixable!

In this series on milk supply, I'm going to offer tips for moms whose supply issues are in the "real but fixable" category.


Sleep. You remember it, right? That awesome thing you used to do every night before you had a baby (and extra on the weekends!). In an oxymoronic twist, if you could reclaim a bit of that sleep you're now missing, you might make more milk.

While there are no formal studies on how a mom's fatigue level correlates to her milk supply, many moms do report better pumping output when they're relaxed and rested. Even if it doesn't result in a supply boost, getting adequate sleep can improve a mom's mood and outlook, making her a better playmate for her baby.

Ways to incorporate more sleep and rest into your routine are:

* Go to bed with your baby once in a while. An occasional 8pm bedtime never hurt anyone. The laundry can wait.

* Nap with your baby on weekends. Add a nap to your "to-do" list. You'll feel like you've accomplished something when you check it off!

* Lay down with your baby and nurse in the side lying position for 20 minutes or so after work. A little rest, time to reconnect and a full baby belly can help set the tone for a calm, chaos-free evening.

* Cosleep or bed share. The ability to night-feed without turning on the lights, or even getting out of bed, can make a world of difference in terms of mom's sleep quality and morning fatigue.

No Pants Nappin'

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