I had to stop nursing S when he was about 10 months old because I was pregnant again. I didn't want to go to formula, but I didn't have much of a choice, my supply was drying up, pumping wasn't yielding much and my flow was really low. So I gave in when he quit and just didn't look back.
But this time, J is my last kid. There will be no unexpected pregnancy that causes my milk to dry up. I will make it to a year and never give formula. At least, that's the plan. So when I started having an uneven supply of milk I got very concerned. I did a bunch of reading and decided to try various things to increase my supply.
First I drank Mother's Milk tea. I don't know how people manage 4-5 cups of something that takes 10 minutes to brew a day. So I drank it inconsistently, never more than 2x a day. I didn't see any change. So then I moved on to Fengreek. I'm taking 4 pills twice a day. I didn't really see much of an increase in my supply, but it stopped dropping SUPER low like it had been.*
*All talk of my milk supply only refers to my output when I pump at work. I work 3 days a week and pump twice on the days I work. I send 12-14oz of milk to daycare with J, so I need to get at least 12oz to consider it a good day and not dip into frozen milk. I had been pumping 15-16oz a day the first month I was back at work, so that's my baseline of what's possible. When I say "SUPER low" I mean, only pumping 9-10oz total over 2 sessions.
So, back to my experimenting. Next, I went on to chinese herbs (I have a great acupuncturist and herbalist that I work with). I started taking that and didn't see that much of an increase either. Keep in mind, I'm still drinking the tea sometimes and still taking the fengreek daily. I'm trippling up!
Then two weeks ago I gave up on finding something new recommended on one of the various reputable sites I'd been looking at and I thought to myself "Self, you can fix this." No, actually I did come up with an idea that was worth trying.
And hey, it worked! What's the idea? WATER. Breast Milk is something like 98% water, so it follows that if I can get my body totally saturated in water, I would be able to output more milk.
Now I drink 30-40oz before I pump at 10am and I get 10-11 oz in that pumping alone. I drink another 30-40oz before the 3pm pumping and I get an additional 5-6oz. This isn't totally reliable, but I haven't had a single day below 13oz since I started doing this. And I've gone as high as 17oz. Water intake is VERY important to breast milk, at least for me. Now, I'm still taking fengreek, and the herbs, and drinking the tea sometimes, but the water was the big factor.
One of those "duh" things, but I figured I'd share, incase anyone else is having the same issues I was.