When I had my first daughter, I felt adequately prepared to overcome all of the challenges that might come with breastfeeding. I had taken lactation classes, had a wonderful support group of lactation educators, had my boppy, and many gadgets to help prepare me to have a positive experience.
I was warned about engorgement as well as the importance of breastfeeding on demand, so I took every opportunity to nurse my daughter. I pumped so much that I had run out of space in my freezer at one point. Then, when my daughter was 4 and a half months old, I went back to work. During the first few few weeks, my milk supply was steady; however as my daughter was introduced to solids and as time went on, my milk supply began to drastically reduce. So many mothers, including myself, get frustrated and concerned when they realize their milk supply is decreasing. Is my baby getting enough to eat?! Low milk supply can make a lot of women feel like a failure and many stop breastfeeding/feel they need to use formula when they feel their baby is not getting enough to eat from nursing alone. Frustrated, I did everything the books and mommy blogs said to do to improve my supply – I started pumping more, drinking more water, and I even tried eating a bunch of oatmeal! Also, I had heard that mothers milk tea can help to increase your milk supply but just never got around to buying them.
Concerned about my supply, I visited my lactation consultant – she recommended breast massage. I used two different breast massage techniques to help with my milk supply – the Sliding technique in combination with the Compression technique. The Sliding technique is when the hands, palms or knuckles slide down toward the areola in an effort to alleviate several breastfeeding problems including low milk supply. Compression breast massage involves gently squeezing or compressing the breast either during breastfeeding or pumping in order to assist with milk ejection. I used Compression and Sliding in combination with pumping, which was necessary since I had gone back to work.
I admit, while the massage techniques did increase my supply, it never returned to the level I was at when I first began nursing. Being a mom is stressful and having a low supply only added to that stress. I was thankful that I learned about breast massage, it was easy to do before or during nursing/pumping and it helped reduce a little bit of the worry that comes with being a mom.
There are many different breast massage techniques for a variety of breast feeding problems. While Compression and Sliding are two techniques for low milk supply, check out our blogs about nipple shapes and problems or breast pain to learn about other techniques for problems associated with breast feeding.
As always, what works for one mom may not work for the next. If you’re having difficulty with nursing or experiencing low milk supply, talk to your doctor or your lactation consultant.
Hope this helps!
Ileisha Sanders, mother of 2
Featured image: 30/366 – feeding the girls by David D, CC BY 2.0