I'm back with more on what to think about and what to do when you feel like your milk supply has dropped off the charts. We talked about growth spurts and hormonal changes in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. Once you've got those two bases covered, and even if one of those two reasons is obviously the culprit, you still need to step back and ask yourself if you are nurturing your own body as well as your nursing relationship with your little one. (And since you are already taking a harder look at your own nourishment, you can also make sure that you aren't overdoing it with any of the herbs that you should be avoiding while breastfeeding: Sage, Parsley, Black Walnut, and Yarrow.)
When you were first a new mom - sleep deprived and barely able to think about nourishing your own body - you might have had people reminding you to make sure you were drinking enough water and also at least snacking throughout the day, in order to support your body's healing process and also create the ideal scenario for your body to produce lots and lots of milk! Now that you are either running around with a demanding little person on your hip or literally running around after an energetic toddler that is exploring anything and everything she can get her hands on, you may once again not even have the time or energy to focus on what you are feeding yourself. Well, let me tell you, if your milk seems to be dwindling, this is the time to pay some attention again and make a point to have a glass of water each time you nurse, and also make sure you are eating a minimum of 3 times a day - kuddos to you if you can get 5 snacks and meals in each day! Not only will you support your body in making milk, but you will also find that you feel more balanced and have more patience with your little one once you are eating often enough throughout the day. Your baby may even notice a shift in your attitude when you are well hydrated and well fed and may follow in your footsteps and seem more settled and happy herself.
This brings us to your nursing relationship. Sometimes this is the factor that gets completely overlooked (don't worry, we've all been there, but you can turn things around)! When you had a teeny tiny newborn who was completely dependent on you for survival, you were probably a pro at prioritizing spending quality time with her during "feeding times." Chances are you got all set up on the couch or in bed with a pillow or 2, or 4! You may have even taken your shirt off and undressed your baby, and really soaked up all the skin to skin time you could when you didn't have company over. You might have done this instinctually, or maybe someone told you that this would help bring your milk in and strengthen your breastfeeding relationship. Well, guess what - even if it feels like everything has changed and you could literally nurse upside down with your eyes closed while on the phone with your hubby and not even have to look at your child, these same principles still hold strong. Nursing still has a whole lot to do with love hormones, with connecting, with having that close and cuddly relationship. Even if you have been having a hard time balancing your life and taking care of this little person, if you are still interested in nursing, then do what you need to do to keep your nursing relationship strong. Take some time - 10 minutes twice a day at a minimum - and make a point to focus 100% on your nursling. Set yourself up in a comfy spot, with no TV, no phone, no computer, just you and your child, and nurse. Nurse and interact with your baby organically - do what feels right, play with her fingers, run your fingers through her hair, sing her a song, tell her how much you love her. You can even talk to her about how you feel about spending time nursing with her and ask her how she feels. If you are really lucky she might even respond to you with a smile without ever unlatching. These moments are so healing and so incredibly valuable, not only for your baby or for your milk supply, but also for you to feel truly connected as a mom. These moments are my favorite moments.