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Is there anyway to 'help' milk come in?

(30 Posts)
Heartbeep Wed 19-Sep-12 19:50:10

I'm due to have a CS on Tuesday & wondered if there's any way that I can encourage my milk to come in?

This is my second section, first time DD lost 11% of her birth weight and I had to stay in hospital for 6 days, I was also 'advised' to give her formula top ups to get her weight up. I used a breast pump form about day 2/3 with very little success also I feel that using it so early contributed to cracked nipples etc.
I did manage to successfully BF DD until 13 months so I know it can work out but I feel those early days were so unnecessarily stressful.

My milk eventually came in on day 7 after the CS, and then I realised why I had been struggling to feed (I had no idea I wasn't producing milk).

Ideally I'd like to be home earlier this time and avoid the formula feeds, but based on my previous experience, I know my milk may take a while to come in.

Is there anything I can actively do in the run up or after the birth (other than frequent feeding) to encourage my milk to come in?


MigGril Wed 19-Sep-12 19:55:06

You've already spotted frequent feeding. But also keeping baby skin to skin with you as much as possible should help.

There is nothing you can do before hand as it's the removal of the placenta that helps trigger the hormones for producing mature milk.

foolingwithmisskitty Wed 19-Sep-12 20:02:20

You are absolutely right about the frequent feeding but I'm afraid that is the only thing you can do to ensure your milk comes in. After my section on the Friday I had skin to skin with my son straight away and he was constantly at my breast. I left hospital on the Sunday and then my milk came in. I would steer clear of "top up" feeds as this can actually prevent your body producing enough milk for baby as they aren't sucking enough at the breast. I had pressure to do this too in hospital and know it is hard when you are emotionally quite fragile and the "experts" are telling you what you need to do. Good luck and I hope you get out quicker this time and it is all lovely and unstressful for you x

Milanese Wed 19-Sep-12 20:02:28

In Italy the pediatrician and midwife recommended some homeopathic fennel tablets specifically to encourage milk production.

I'm so-so about homeopathic medecine but I took them religiously for a week or two and ended up being a milk factory! Perhaps there's an equivalent in the UK? (they tasted vile)

Heartbeep Wed 19-Sep-12 20:17:34

Thanks. Yes with DD I had skin to skin straight away and a lot of it in hospital. Basically I was 'advised' if DD didn't gain weight they couldn't discharge us so I felt that I had to use formula top ups, if I felt I could have avoided it, I would have, it was a very long six days in hospital waiting for the weigh in each, so depressing. she was early at 37 weeks, quite jaundiced etc so I really felt I had nowhere to go.

I've got a consultant appointment tomorrow and intend to discuss it with them, it's a different hospital from last time too which might help.

I do think this time I'll just refuse to formula feed and hope that my milk will come in sooner than last time.

MigGril Thu 20-Sep-12 06:55:42

Your hospital should also have an infant feeding specialist. So ask to see them to help with breastfeeding. You should be able to tale to them before the birth to.

ZuleikaD Thu 20-Sep-12 08:24:48

I have heard that fennel tea is supposed to be good for milk production too, but not sure if it's an old wives tale, and it might just be that it's helpful once you're already producing. tiktok might know. I found with DC2 that I just fed him a lot more anyway and my milk came in a day or two earlier than it had with DD (to the degree that DS didn't go down from his birthweight at all).

golemmings Thu 20-Sep-12 08:34:03

I also found my milk came in much quicker with dc2; my milk took a couple of days to come in with dc1 (40+5) but I was able to feed dc2 (40+14) a couple of hours after birth but then pumped 3 hourly for the next 24 hours whilst he was tube fed in neonatal. Despite his 'interesting' start feeding dc2 was much easier because I was more relaxed and my body just seemed to know what it was doing. I hope you find the same.

LMCG Thu 20-Sep-12 12:13:29

Put your baby to your breast asap after birth and offer feeds if your baby is sleepy. You'll have colostrum before your milk comes in anyway and your boobs have done it all before so know what to do. My milk dwindled to next to nothing with my last baby but I got back on track really quickly so try not to worry as this makes it worse I think. Definateley don't use fomula as a top up you'll produce less milk. I'm sure all will be well.

tiktok Thu 20-Sep-12 12:40:09

Agree with eveything here - lots of skin to skin, frequent feeding, no separation, if baby won't play ball, hand expressing.

Fennel has a rep. for boosting milk supply - never heard of it as something to bring milk in. Homeopathic anything has nothing in it so any effect from homeopathic fennel would be placebo - more likely your milk would have come in with a whoosh anyway smile

Heartbeep Thu 20-Sep-12 20:43:00

Thanks everyone, fingers crossed I have better results this time.
I had forgotten how stressful it was last time, it's all coming flooding back & I really want it to be easier. Talked to consultant and some midwives today, they're saying all the right things, that they'll be supportive and formula will be a last resort etc although I'd rather not even be talking about formula.

Baby is measuring pretty small so I can see the reality being similar to last time unless my milk comes in quicker.

I'll get some fennel this weekend and take it with me to hospital.

Thanks again for the advice.

FrozenNorthPole Fri 21-Sep-12 21:34:37

Hi - I've had 3 small babies so know that the hospital staff can be quite paranoid about blood sugars and body temp. With baby number 3 we had plans in place to make sure that we didn't end up being pushed and bullied into using formula. We did the following things which might or might not be useful to you in your planning:

- establish that baby need not be in a heated cot if held skin to skin and maintaining body temp successfully
- get permission (!!!! that we had to do this) to bring in a couple of ounces of my friend's expressed breastmilk so IF supplementation was needed, as a last resort, we could maintain baby's virgin gut AND wouldn't get the 'blunting' effect that formula - as harder and takes longer to digest - has upon the neonate's usual frequent cues to feed. The hospital had never had anyone bring in donor milk before, and actually made us sign a waiver before agreeing to let us bring the milk in. This makes me pretty sad but is a sign of the bottle culture that's so pervasive here in the UK.
- putting baby to breast almost constantly; doing gentle breast massage whilst feeding to help make sure that colostrum transfer was as efficient as possible
- doing a little gentle hand expression of colostrum IF I had repeatedly offered breast and baby wouldn't latch: I wanted to keep the 'demand' for the breast to make milk as frequent as possible
- checking the quality of the latch with staff on a number of occasions, again to make sure milk transfer was efficient
- have baby examined for tongue tie as soon as possible, just in case: since my son DID turn out to be tongue tied, I knew that this could mean my milk might take a couple of extra days to come in so I did extra hand expression (doesn't make your nipples sore like a breastpump can do) to try and minimise this and provide something to supplement with if we absolutely had to
- had plans, if supplementation with my milk / donor milk was genuinely needed, to use a syringe not a bottle to feed with to avoid nipple confusion.

I do realise that some of those suggestions might not be up your street and nothing can guarantee your milk will come in earlier, but they at least meant that - for us - the staff took my desire to avoid formula very seriously indeed (possibly thought me a little deranged grin). I hope that things go well for you this time.

GodisaDj Fri 21-Sep-12 21:46:20

Good post frozennorthpole

I was going to suggest getting in touch with a donor milk bank prior to Tuesday to advise of situation last time, or at least find the number in case you need to call them.

Donor milk is a different option to formula, but i am aware that this isn't for some people. (I have some in my freezer that needs using up if you're in the North Staffordshire area wink )

kuros Fri 21-Sep-12 22:01:15

Just wanted to add that fennel tea had a huge impact on my milk production - uncomfortably so. So use it carefully until you know what effect it has on you.

Good luck OP!

Heartbeep Fri 21-Sep-12 22:53:59

Thanks frozen lots of good advice.
DD had an undiagnosed TT so I will be militant about asking every midwife to check DC2.

I don't have any problem with donated milk, I donated myself when feeding DD, bizarrely it's not an avenue I had considered for myself! I'll see what my options are.

I had a good chat with a midwife today, she reiterated that they'll do everything they can to help. Last time it was the 'baby doctor' who effectively held me to ransom so I know the reality can be quite different but I do think I'll be better equipped to have a fuller discussion about it rather than just going along with the advice.

Thanks again it's really appreciated.

Heartbeep Fri 21-Sep-12 22:54:55

I'm in Scotland godis so a bit far!

Thanks for the offer though smile

musttidyupmusttidyup Fri 21-Sep-12 23:10:00

I waited a long time for my milk with DS1 following a rough time in labour, and he lost a lot if weight so I was worried with DS2. It was fine though and milk came in much more quickly. (Easier birth, much less traumatic) and same withDD. I didn't leave anything to chance second or third time though and kept formula handy - used for both DS2 and DD to top up breast feeds in the first week. No problem switching to just breast and fed them for 18 months.
<runs and hides from BF police>

GodisaDj Tue 25-Sep-12 11:04:10

Good luck today OP wink

Heartbeep Wed 26-Sep-12 11:32:47

Thanks! Baby born born at lunchtime yesterday. He's beautiful & so far feeding well. Just keeping my fingers crossed for the weigh in which I think will be tomorrow.

Section went well, very calm & overall a good experience.

worldgonecrazy Wed 26-Sep-12 11:40:57

Great news - sorry I'm late to the thread. Chocolate cake and a small glass of wine can help. I'm being serious - it helps you, the mum, to relax and that is good for milk supply and for baby.

I hope you're enjoying your new little bundle of joy and getting plenty of support.

ZuleikaD Wed 26-Sep-12 12:08:01

kuros - I really like fennel tea but have been avoiding it while pg as I know it can affect hormones. How much did you drink such that it increased your supply like that?

musttidyupmusttidyup Wed 26-Sep-12 17:36:10

Oh yes! Guinness! Worth a try! smile

FrozenNorthPole Thu 27-Sep-12 12:09:19

Congratulations Heartbeep. Is there any reason why they're weighing him so soon after birth, or are you being discharged and hence expect a midwife visit - I'd assume not with a section but could be wrong? How big was he at birth?

Very few women will have their milk come in by day 2 after birth so you'd expect a degree of weight loss. If they gave you IV fluids for the section then his weight may well have been artificially raised by them. Have they done any blood sugars yet? So soon after birth, weighing is not really that helpful in determining efficacy of feeding, but observing feeds, baby's behaviour and blood sugars and wee / mec output are. Keep us posted x x

advance01 Thu 27-Sep-12 12:24:26

If they gave you IV fluids for the section then his weight may well have been artificially raised by them.
O i didn't know that. Bet that part of the reason why dd's weight dropped so much.

Heartbeep Thu 27-Sep-12 18:21:41

Thanks! Well they were all set to weigh him today until...the breast feeding nurse arrived & told the midwives off for weighing him too soon! They still let us come home which was unexpected & so great.
They're going to weigh him at home tomorrow & deal with any weight loss from there which is brilliant.

The BF nurse was just terrific she watched a feed, adjusted our position gave some great advice about positioning & weight loss, really a bit of a confidence boost.

DS fed all night last night & the day before except for about 1.5 hours so I'm totally shattered & quite sore so it was great to get some first hand advice, it's so nice to be home & have our lovely cuddles in our house.

DD (aged 3) has already told me twice to 'put my chest away'

Breast feeding nurses are amazing & I really wish that they were part of the process for everyone, totally invaluable & take a bit of pressure of the midwives (in their own words) a real necessity on maternity wards if breast feeding is to be truly supported.

Thanks again for all the advice, I really hope our BF journey is a little easier this time.

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