The human body is a miracle. Not only was I fortunate enough to carry a healthy girl for 10 months (can we PLEASE acknowledge that extra month we’re actually pregnant, y’all?!), but my body now produces the only nutrition she needs: add in the fact that it’s the best thing for her, it’s free, and it somehow burns calories and boosts her immune system, too?! Sign me up. Or, rather, sign both of my boobs up!
Unfortunately, only one boob got the memo: one of them went out for a smoke break not long after baby E was born and never returned. I am nursing and pumping with one breast exclusively, and telling this to people who are bold enough to ask about my breastfeeding journey makes them look at me like I have three boobs. And somehow, this leads them to insinuate I’ve done something wrong somewhere along the way. The tips and suggestions I’ve gotten for increasing my milk supply and coercing my right boob back to the job site have been nothing short of comical and occasionally downright crazy.
Somewhere along the way, though, I got so desperate to become the land of milk and honey for my babe that I tried almost every single suggestion that came my way, so you wouldn’t have to.
“Have you tried drinking milk?”
Okay, I am an adult woman, and I still love chocolate milk: it’s all I wanted when I was pregnant and for months afterward. I don’t see many cows drinking milk themselves, though, so we’re going to chalk this tip up to being useless—other than for cravings, of course.
“You are eating too many dry foods—replace all of your meals with soup.”
I’m blessed with a fantastic mother-in-law, but she’s very traditional. She breastfed each of her children (4!!) for 14 months with no supply issues whatsoever. Color me green with envy. But also color me greenish-gray when she brought me fish soup to eat every time she visited baby E right after she was born: she insisted it would help my supply. She clucked her tongue at me, and I swear chuckled as she watched me choke it down. Not only did it not help, but the accompanying bathroom issues probably detracted from things as well.
“Have you tried massaging your breasts in the shower, then nursing?”
As much fun as this was for me (and getting to take an extra-long, luxurious shower was the bees-knees), it made very little difference, if any. I think I accidentally expressed from my functional feedbag in these instances, causing me to want to keep a bottle in the shower for such purposes. With Righty still out of commission, this method wasn’t convincing for me.
“Eat raw garlic! It’s a natural supply booster.”
How about you eat my raw . . . never mind. I put raw garlic in a smoothie—needless to say, my husband and I both disapproved of this one.
“Flax seeds! Mother’s milk tablets! Teas! They’ve got me producing a half-gallon a day!”
I hadn’t considered supplements before—but in the spirit of “I’ll try anything, please let my cups overfloweth,” I gave them a shot. Flax seeds in a smoothie were delicious, and I saw additional output from old reliable; radio silence from Righty. Tablets and teas yielded little difference from traditional hydration and were slightly expensive after trying them religiously multiple times a day.
It’s been 7 months since Baby E was born. Though we haven’t closed the chapter on our breastfeeding journey yet, she is partially supplemented with formula. It disappointed me at first, but I concluded as many moms before and after me will: fed is always best—in whatever manner works most for your family. You’ve got your cup of tea, my mother-in-law has her fish soup, and I’ve got my wine: because that’s also a fun thing with formula sometimes.