Just call me Dharma

I’m a science person, right?  Not a holistic medicine person.  I don’t believe that apple cider vinegar can cure everything from blisters to cancer, and of COURSE we’re vaccinating Jack.  I don’t plan to change my mind about any of that, but I AM willing to try just about anything to make sure I can continue to feed Jack.

A couple of weeks ago, maybe three now, Jack started to behave strangely while nursing, and without going into all the details (because I’m tired and that takes too long), I’ve asked for help, and two other moms, his doctor, and two lactation nurses (one of whom witnessed him nurse) all think I have low milk supply.  Jack is still gaining weight, so no one is seriously concerned about him, but I’m not ready to give up on being his sole source of food.

Solution #1: pump constantly.  Sharon (the visiting lactation nurse who looks and sounds like John’s Aunt Toni – it’s eerie) suggested pumping after every feeding for 24-48 hours.  I haven’t managed EVERY feeding (sometimes I let him nap if he falls asleep eating), but I’ve been pumping a lot and not seeing a lot of improvement.  We’re coming up on 96 hours, and MAYBE making some progress.  We’ve replaced the bedtime feeding with a bottle because that late in the day I’m producing practically nothing and both Jack and I are very not happy about it.  Anyway, the pumping is supposed to be telling my body that the baby needs more so, damn it, produce more.  We’ll see.

Solution #2 is the one I want to talk about.  After suggesting pumping all the time, Sharon asked, “Have you tried any herbs?”  Part one of the answer: I haven’t tried ANYthing because I didn’t know what the problem was.  Part two of the answer: um, what?  What kind of herbs?  Like, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme?  Or, like, herbs?  What is happening here?

Apparently, some herbs are galactagogues, meaning they’ll help produce milk, like fenugreek, alfalfa, and, I kid you not, something called blessed thistle.  I feel hippy-dippier just typing that.  So Sharon suggested I try those herbs, in addition to the constant pumping, either in pill form or in Mother’s Milk Tea.  (I can’t believe this is a real thing.)  I like tea, so I ordered some of that, and it arrived today.  I was worried about the fenugreek (I really don’t like licorice), but the tea tastes pretty much like a basic chamomile (I don’t drink much herbal tea, so give me a break here if I’m totally off base), and I can deal with that.  Of course, I have to deal with it 3-5 cups a day for it to be effective.

The tea has been in the house for 90 minutes, and I’ve had two cups already.  I’ll get at least three in tonight.



  1. Momma Betty

    Youth dad and I had very similar and simultaneous reactions.. Mine was, if Jack doesn’t keep you up all night, peeing will.

    Don’t see how you could have a low supply given how often you feed the little piglet. Adorable but greedy little piglet.

  2. Erik

    What Jack wants is high calorie filling milk product. So you need to increase your intake of high calorie and filling milk products. Ergo, switch to an all ice cream diet.
    Problem solved!

    • Margaret

      Now why didn’t you suggest this when I had low supply with both kids?? I feel your pain, Zannah. I remember pumping nonstop, taking herbs, making/eating lactation cookies (that part was great!). I finally had to accept that some people (me, my mother) have low milk supply. I also think that because both our kids slept through the night early on, that long stretch with no nursing at night messed with supply. Not sure if that’s what is going on for you too.

      • Zannah

        Erik has some good ideas. 🙂

        You know, he does sleep through the night, and he’s been pretty consistent with that for probably a month (with exceptions, of course). I hadn’t thought about that as a problem, but it very well could be part of it.

        Any idea why one side might produce less than the other?

        • Margaret

          Ok, this is a belated comment, but I remember reading that it’s super common for one side to produce more than the other. I also read that sometimes babies prefer one over the other which can create a demand-supply loop that’s unbalanced. I have a vague memory that one side was more prolific than the other for me. But both were pretty pathetic when pumping, so it didn’t make a big impression that that was the problem.

          • Zannah

            Helpful! Weirdly, it seems that there’s a big difference when Jack is nursing (like, he’s done with one side in 2-3 minutes, but will go for 15 on the other), but when I pump, they produce almost the same. Everything about this is weird.

  3. I agree with the comment that the overnight sleeping is likely slowing things down. I can also tell you I had one side that was full-on firehose, and the other side seemed far more subdued. Graeme would flip out on the firehose side. So maybe not every, uh, set performs exactly the same. Ah, memories. Or is it mammories? Keep up the great work mama!

    PS There used to be a fab bakery here in town called Blessed Thistle. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Are you a robot? Beep beep boop beep *