I do not know which exactly is my secret so I will be sharing on what I did and still doing to ensure that I succeed in breastfeeding. Nonetheless, perseverance is one of the key.
A little bit history and background profile on my breastfeeding journey. My first boy, i breastfed him up to two years old. Fully breastfeed till 21 months, then supplement with 1X fresh milk in a day, and continue to breastfeed until I was pregnant with my baby no.2 when my eldest was 25th month. And for my no.2, I have been fully breastfeeding him until now, he is going to 14 months.
Breastfeeding my first boy wasn't really a pleasant one. Before I delivered my boy, I had this impression what's so difficult about breastfeeding, just nurse from the boobs. Never had I thought of the horror stuff behind it: engorgement, crack nipples, feeding round the clock, pumping consistently, lumps, sleepless night etc. As if being a first time mom isn't challenge enough, breastfeeding is making it more a lot more overwhelming.
I started pumping after one week of my delivery, when my breasts were so engorged and I had to empty it before I have blocked ducts. First time breastfeeding, I had not have a full 6 hours one stretch sleep in the first 6 months. I woke up every 3-4 hours to pump diligently. My first pump yield this 5oz.
During my maternity leave, besides nursing directly I still pump to empty my breasts. If I remember correctly, my pumping schedule is every 4 hours round the clock. My supply built up and I had oversupply issue, I had to donate my milk out every two to three months. 300-400oz out every time. When my boy hit 6 months mark, I dragged it to every 6 hours gap and my supply started regulated then.
After delivery of my no.2, I started pumping at day 3 post delivery, and pump only when I feel engorged. No midnight pumping as I'm nursing my little boy throughout the night. (Oh for my first boy, I slept train him when he was 3 months old, so he skipped his midnight feed around that age, and I still pump every midnight to ensure I have sufficient supply)
Second time breastfeeding is a breeze. My supply regulated quite well and I didn't have all these ulcer, stone breast issues. After I got back to work force, I pump three times a day, morning before I go to work, lunch time once. And night time once. And my supply are enough for both my boys.
No secrets, below are few points that I think would help in breastfeeding journey:
1. Nurse your baby. Pump.
Baby's tongue is a powerful pump. Their suckling stimulate milk production. Having first breastfeeding experience, I know I wouldn't want to feed the freezer like I used to. I would suggest first time mother nurse the baby on demand. And if you are going back to work force and have to stock up, pump diligently every 4-5 hours. And wake up in the midnight to pump. The breastfeeding hormone is high during midnight and that's when you can stimulate more milk production.
2. Invest a good pump
Back then I used manual single pump, like I said, I thought breastfeeding was easy and didn't factor in the importance of a good pump. I was using this damn pump for one whole month and got really depressed every pumping session. I had to spend at least one hour each session to clear the boobs, wash the bottles, sterilise. And I have 5-6 session of pumping everyday, so you can imagine how depressing it is. So during confinement, I was researching which pump is good, get feedback from forum and friends on recommendation. I then got myself Medela Swing Maxi and it has been my best friend since then.
3. Diet. Plenty of liquid. And calories.
I drink at least 3L of liquid daily. Drink one glass of water after each pumping session. Every morning after I wake up I gush down a glass of plain water + few drops of lemon juice. Been drinking this ever since I tried to conceive my first boy. I read from somewhere that it helps to alkaline the body. Try to drink water every hour. Don't wait until you feel thirsty. And i eat a lot, I guess every breastfeeding moms eat like a cow. I feel that when I'm full, as in I eat a lot rice, and meat, I can product more milk. Eat healthy and balanced meal.
4. Other liquid. Supplements.
Other than plain water, one of the drink that I drink daily is red dates water. I usually just boil red dates + goji + longan + honey date (optional) for about 20 minutes at night and keep in thermos until next morning. And I drink soup every alternate day, often are black bean soup, chicken soup, ABC soup. One more thing, I love milo! I have nursing tea and nursing cocoa drink on standby. I prefer nursing cocoa drink than nursing tea. I love avocado milk too! As for supplements, I take oil (fish oil/coconut oil/sacha inchi oil), multivitamin, calcium and probiotic.
5. Breast massage
Before I gave birth to my first boy, I have friend told me that massage your breast in circular motion during shower time, it helps with milk production later. I did that and also shower it with alternate hot/cold water during shower time. Not sure if that contributed to my blessed supply. You may try ; )
6. No stress. Chill. And sleep more
Stress is my bigger milk killer. When I'm tired and stressful, my production drop. So I'd just tell myself, whatever stress is no stress. My baby is utmost important. Stay calm and do one thing at a time. And I realised when I got a few hours of good sleep, I will have my supply back. I think mindset is important, don't be too extreme, take a deep breathe, just do whatever you can and within your control.