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2 Ways to Help Maintain Your Milk Supply During Your Period

Updated: Apr 29, 2023

If you're one of the women out there who experience a temporary drop in your milk supply from ovulation (mid-cycle) until the first day or two of your period here are 2 tips you can try:

  1. Calcium with magnesium supplement

  2. Hands on pumping

This temporary drop in your milk supply is related to hormone changes as well as a drop in your blood calcium levels.

Calcium/Magnesium Supplement

In order to optimize absorption it's important to take a supplement that has both calcium and magnesium. A good rule of thumb is a 2:1 calcium-to-magnesium ratio. For example, if you take 1000mg of calcium, you should also take 500mg of magnesium.[1] Here is a Calcium/Mag supplement I've found with a 2:1 ratio and no added fillers.

"The recommended calcium supplement dosage is between 500 mg calcium/250 mg magnesium and 1500 mg calcium/750 mg magnesium (the higher dosage is generally more effective). Calcium dosages this high should not be taken alone, but as a calcium/magnesium (or calcium/magnesium/zinc) combination. Otherwise the calcium will not be adequately absorbed into your body. The amount of supplement depends on the composition of your diet — the more animal protein, the more calcium/magnesium needed. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, the lower dosage may work fine for you. If you supplement more than 500 mg calcium per day, then divide the dose so you’re not taking it all at once – calcium absorption is best when a person consumes no more than 500 mg at one time." [2]

It is recommended to take this supplement from the middle of your cycle through the first three days of your period. But, if you don't track your cycle or would just prefer to take it daily that is a safe option too. I consulted Alison Boden, a registered dietitian at Motherwell Nutrition who specializes in helping moms feel better and she assured me it's safe to take a supplement like this daily.

Hands On Pumping

If you don't pump and are exclusively breastfeeding don't worry, you can still utilize this technique.

While breast pumps are a great modern day convenience they are still known to not be quite as effective at removing milk when compared to breastfeeding. The effectiveness of your pumping or breastfeeding session can vary based on things like the type of pump you use, if you're using the proper flange size (more to come on this in a future blog post), and your baby's latch. Hands On Pumping involves using your hands to massage your breasts during and after pumping to help empty your breasts.This technique is known to help with:

  • improving the amount of milk expressed

  • improving fat and calorie content of your milk[3]

Alright, lets go over how to be more hands on and improve your milk output!

  1. Start by gently massaging your breasts and nipples before beginning. This stimulates oxytocin, which is a necessary hormone for your milk ejection reflex.

  2. Use a double pump vs. a single pump. This helps improve the amount of milk that is expressed.While pumping or breastfeeding, gently compress, squeeze and massage your breasts. If you are pumping- watch the way that your milk sprays out into the flange tunnel to determine whether your massage is effective. You can also feel for hard or full spots in your breasts, working those out as you pump. If you are breastfeeding you should notice your baby swallowing frequently or notice a suck to swallow ratio of about 1-2 sucks per swallow.

  3. If pumping, pump until the milk slows down to a trickle. If breastfeeding, you will know the flow of milk has slowed down by hearing less frequent swallowing and noticing more sucks before a swallow. When you've identified your milk flow has slowed down massage your breasts again, paying special attention to areas that feel hard or full.

  4. Once you have finished pumping or breastfeeding you can follow this up with hand expressing more milk into a cup, bottle or into the flange of the breast pump.[3]

This technique can be tricky at first and will require some practice. One thing to remember is not to massage or compress aggressively. This can do more harm than good. You want to stimulate oxytocin, the feel good hormone... not pain :)

I hope this helps!



disclaimer: this post does include an affiliate link

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