Anyone who has read this blog long enough or knows me well, knows that Levi and I had a tough time breastfeeding. I had a lot of pain in the beginning which caused me to (unknowingly) mismanage my supply. He also did a lousy job of actually taking the milk I had from me, and around 6 weeks my supply totally tanked never to recover. I fought through chronic low supply, took herb tinctures and Rx drugs just to make 1/4 what he needed, because I wanted to breastfeed so badly. In the end, we nursed for 15 months and I'm so very proud of us.
With Clara, I thought I knew what I had done wrong, and was hoping things would be different with her. The good news is, they absolutely have. I've been able to exclusively breastfeed her without supplementation. I'm so very grateful.
I did everything right this time: double side feeding, no pacis in the first 2 weeks, no supplementation, no bottles in the first 3 weeks, lots of skin to skin and holding her, making sure I got at least 8 stimulations per day, etc. After returning to work and pumping more than nursing on some days, it seems I still need more than a little help maintaining a full supply and keeping up with her bottle intake at school. It also didn't help that we figured out about 4 days before I returned to work that she had a dairy sensitivity that made my entire 70 oz stash unusable! Anywho, I first started taking the herb tincture I had taken last time, More Milk Plus by Motherlove. This time I'm not taking a full dose (1 mL 4 times per day), I'm taking more like 0.75 mL 2-3 times per day. When I had been back to work about 1 month, I filled my Rx for Domperidone. It has helped a lot and I am able to keep up with her intake now.
I've also been drinking homemade loose leaf tea every day. I learned while I was pregnant about the benefits of loose leaf tea over the prepackaged stuff in the store. Apparently, the stuff in the store has so little herbs that there's hardly any benefit to drinking it. I started making and drinking NORA tea during my 3rd trimester for uterine health and to ease labor. I use a large metal coffee scoop to measure my portions (you could use a table spoon if you don't have a coffee scoop, it's not exact). I make up 2-3 recipes in a big Mason jar and shake it up. Then I use my scoop for 1 serving of tea.
My NORA recipe is easy peasy:
2 scoops Nettle Leaf
1 scoop Oat Straw
2 scoops Red Raspberry Leaf
1 scoop Alfalfa
I order everything from the Bulk Herb Store in the links above. I ordered 1/2 lb of each herb and it cost around $30 including shipping to get started. I've been drinking 1 cup per day for 3.5 months now and have not had to reorder yet.
I had planned to keep drinking the NORA tea after birth because of the vitamins and minerals in the Nettle Leaf and Oat Straw, the uterine health benefits of the Red Raspberry Leaf, and the milk boosters in Alfalfa. However, once I realized I needed a bit more help with my milk supply, I came up with a NORA Plus recipe. My Mason jar only holds 1-2 recipes of this.
3 scoops Nettle Leaf
1 scoop Oat Straw
3 scoops Red Raspberry Leaf
2 scoops Alfalfa
1 scoop Fenugreek
1 scoop Fennel Seed
1/2 scoop Blessed Thistle
You have to be careful with the Blessed Thistle because it is really bitter. If you use too much, it will ruin the taste of your tea. Again I ordered 1/2 lb of each herb. The Fenugreek is a really small package and I'm running out fast. I will probably order 1 lb of the Fenugreek, Red Raspberry Leaf, and Fennel Seed next time. Those are the ones that I'm running out of quickly. Each herb is different so 1/2 lb of one is in a big bag and 1/2 lb of another doesn't go as far.
I don't have a fancy tea infuser pot or mug, so I ordered this awesome french press travel mug that makes brewing and taking my tea a sinch. Plus, I can use it for coffee later when I'm not breastfeeding. I love my mug!
I wanted to share my successes and things that worked for me. I hope it is helpful or encouraging to someone. If you try my tea recipe and like it, let me know!
If you are not a tea drinker, or would like something more refreshing for summer months, you can make an infusion. You just brew a much stronger version of the tea and then add it to your favorite juice, kombucha, or fizzy drink like ginger brew (which would be great for nausea during pregnancy). I use about 1/2 cup of loose leaf tea in my quart jar. I add the hot water directly to the jar, stir, and put the lid on. I let it sit on the counter overnight. In the morning, I strain the infusion and put it back in the jar with the lid and store it in the refrigerator. You'll have 4 or so servings to add to juice or pour over ice and dilute for iced tea.