Khloé Kardashian Tried 'Every Trick' Before Giving Up Breastfeeding: So Which 'Tricks' Work?
Khloé Kardashian shared on Twitter this week that she "had to stop" nursing her infant daughter True. "It was really hard for me to stop (emotionally) but it wasn't working for my body. Sadly," she wrote in one tweet.
The new mom mentioned she tried "every trick in the book" to increase her breastmilk supply, and shared frustration over the fact that her older sister Kourtney was able to breastfeed her three children with ease.
It's a situation a lot of new moms are familiar with, and can be one of the biggest stressors on parents of newborns: is my child eating enough?
Here, Chicago-based registered nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Elizabeth Sjoblom of Lactation Partners weighs in on breastfeeding myths vs. facts.
What should I do if I think I have a low supply?
"Call a lactation consultant and explain what you're doing already," Sjoblom advises (Khloé did). "A lot of moms question their supply before they question if there is something their baby is doing that isn't right. Oftentimes daycares are giving babies too much milk too quickly and too often, or you have a sleepy eater who isn't transferring enough milk, but we instantly blame ourselves. Society makes us feel like it's our problem, but it's not."
Is baby's weight the only indicator of weight gain (or loss)?
"It's also about peeing and pooping," Sjoblom tells PEOPLE, noting that low diaper output is a sign your baby isn't eating enough. "If your baby isn't giving you enough wet and dirty diapers, I'd want a mom to pump and top the baby off with a bottle of pumped milk," she continues, saying the addition of formula would be a next step if weight and diaper output don't increase.
Does drinking water help boost breastmilk supply?
It's not going to hurt. Staying hydrated is "super helpful," Sjoblom says. You can overhydrate, so stick to somewhere around 80 to 100 oz. a day.
Can certain foods help a mom produce more milk?
Opinions are mixed on galactagogues, a.k.a. foods that are believed to promote lactation (Khloé referenced eating lactation cookies, a popular option that combines several of these foods).
"Those can help if a mom is a little short," Sjoblom explains. "We usually recommend fenugreek, oats, flax, alfalfa, fennel, lactation tea — it can give you an edge but won't make a huge difference if you're not stimulating the breasts enough with your baby or a pump."
Sjoblom recommends making lactation cookies and bars yourself instead of buying them in the store since "they are stronger and honestly taste better" when homemade. Try this one!
Does stress affect how much milk a mom is making?
"Stress alone wouldn't just tank your supply, but anxiety, living in a stressful environment or dealing with a stressful relationship situation might," Sjoblom says. Keep putting baby on the breast to help with milk removal and production.
Can I exercise while breastfeeding?
Of course — but staying hydrated will be key to keeping your supply up. "You need to basically double hydrate: once for water lost during your workout, once for your day-to-day," Sjoblom explains. "That can really kill your supply, if you work out too hard and don't re-hydrate."
What is "power pumping" and does it help increase supply?
Power pumping — which Khloé also tried — is using a breast pump to emulate a baby's cluster feeding, pumping over the course of an hour for 20 minutes with a 10-minute rest, 10 minutes with a 10-minute rest and then 10 more minutes.
"It's really great when you can't get the baby to eat as well as you need them to," Sjoblom says. "And be sure to massage; you have to do that when you pump because it's a machine and doesn't stimulate the hormonal reaction nursing does."
Are some moms better able to breastfeed than others?
Yes, actually, which makes Khloé's reference to Kourtney's breastfeeding success relevant. "A lot of it has to do with hormones," Sjoblom explains, adding that about 3 percent of the population has issues with chronic underproduction due to health concerns like insulin resistance, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and breast reduction surgery, to name a few.
"A lot of moms also have problems because of a rough start — a rough delivery or lack of support in those early days," she continues. "You have to be available to nurse your baby a lot in the beginning for a supply to be established. Frequency allows supply to increase and you to get to a place where the process becomes easier, and often the addition of formula in those first days can affect supply. But not everyone has that education or support.
"We have to lower the bar and give ourselves patience and time — Kardashian or not! Don't feel judged — we're already so hard on ourselves anyway," Sjoblom continues.
And another reminder: it's not all or nothing. "Celebrate what you're able to do," Sjoblom says. "Even if you're breastfeeding at one feed a day and doing formula the rest, it's better than not breastfeeding at all. Appreciate yourself for what you're able to do. Breastfeeding is about enjoying that bond and togetherness with your baby, it's not all about how much volume you can supply."