Does drinking beer boost your milk supply? The answer may surprise you!

Does drinking beer boost your milk supply_ The answer may surprise you!We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Maybe you’ve heard this old wive’s tale: Drink dark, hoppy beer while you’re breastfeeding and it’ll boost your milk supply. I’m not a fan of beer but I was curious if there was any weight to the claims that dark beer does a boobie good. Goodness, I cannot believe I just wrote that! Consider it your laugh for this particular article.

Does drinking beer boost your milk supply?

Does drinking beer boost your milk supply The answer may surprise you!

The theory is that the active yeast in a dark beer helps encourage milk supply. There’s a polysaccharide (the building blocks of starch and cellulose) in the barley used to make beer that stimulates prolactin. Stimulating prolactin is what aids in milk production. It’s that one powerful polysaccharide that does all of the milk producing. There’s a big “but” coming next, can you tell? Beer can boost milk supply but alcohol inhibits milk production. That’s right. While you can drink all the hoppy beer you want to boost your milk supply the truth is that the alcohol in the beer may actually work against producing that milk you’re trying to boost.

Now, if you love the taste of beer, there’s no harm in having a drink or two, so long as you wait a minimum of two hours before you nurse your baby or pump. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that alochol is present the same amount in breastmilk that it is in your bloodstream. According Medela, the AAP, states,

Alcohol is rapidly absorbed into milk. While it also rapidly clears from milk, research suggests its use can alter the taste of the milk and temporarily inhibit milk production. For these reasons, the AAP suggests that breastfeeding mothers avoid the use of alcoholic beverages. An occasional celebratory single, small alcoholic drink is acceptable, but the AAP and other experts suggest that mothers wait about 2 hours until resuming breastfeeding.

One of my favorite websites for breastfeeding, Kellymom.com, referred to this fascinating article on beer and breastfeeding. It explains why some of may believe that consuming beer boosts milk supply,

Alcohol is anti-galactagogue. Studies on animals and humans show that alcohol impairs the milk ejection reflex, slows the flow of milk, and leads to a reduced intake of milk by the baby during approximately four hours after drinking. Because of the back-up of milk, the breast feels fuller. Because the flow of the milk is slower, it requires more time for a baby to remove milk from the breast. Because the breast feels fuller and the baby drinks longer, researchers say the mother believes that her baby is drinking more milk.

Does drinking beer boost your milk supply The answer may surprise you!
Photography by LOvB Photography

So while you may feel like your breasts are fuller after consuming beer, the likelihood that it’s actually boosted your supply is slim to none. How can you boost your milk supply? There are a few different ways to do it naturally as well as some conventional medicines that can help. First things first, let’s talk about why you think you need to boost your milk supply. First answer these questions:

  • Does your baby seem satisfied after a feeding?
  • Is your baby eliminating frequently during the day? (6+ wet diapers a day starting when the baby is four days old and older/ 3-4+ dirty diapers a day starting at four days old)
  • Does your breast(s) feel soft or are they hard and engorged?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, your baby is fine and your milk supply is fine. Leave well enough alone and remember to get plenty of sleep, keep hydrated and eat food that fuels your body.

Does drinking beer boost your milk supply The answer may surprise you!
Photography by LOvB Photography

Natural Ways to Boost Milk Supply

  • Increase milk supply by increasing the frequency of feedings or pumping in between feedings. Try to nurse your baby 1.5 to 2 hours during the day and 3 hours at night. If your baby is older and isn’t experiencing problems gaining weight I wouldn’t disrupt their nighttime sleep since it’s the most important sleep they get.
  • Fenugreek Seed – Fenugreek is the most popular herbal galactagogue (a substance that increases milk supply). Studies have shown that doses less than 3500 mg have no effect on milk production so you need to take more than 3500 mg. Most women see an increase in milk supply within 48/72 hours of taking the Fenugreek Seed. It may take longer though. If you want to go this route please consult either your physician, midwife, or lactation consultant for the proper dosage and instructions.

 

  • Blessed thistle, fennel, and alfalfa are also natural galactagogues.
  • Make sure to feed your baby on both sides of your breasts and make sure baby completely empties at least one side.
  • Oatmeal – Eating a bowl of oatmeal is healthy and there’s nothing wrong with adding a little oatmeal into your diet. It also may help with milk supply. There’s no scientific evidence that oatmeal boost milk supply but some moms have said that it works for them and since there’s nothing negative in adding a little into your daily routine, we think this is a safe bet.


Helpful sites for you to reference:

Like I said earlier, I have always loved and actually used Kellymom.com. Here are some other websites that I found helpful when it comes to boosting milk supply.

KellyMom

KellyMom Supply Worries

BabyCenter – Low Milk Supply

Despite the old wives’ tales it looks like beer doesn’t have a positive role in boosting your milk supply. Drink responsibly and keep it to one to two drinks. Have you tried to drink beer as a means of boosting your milk supply?

Does drinking beer boost your milk supply_ The answer may surprise you! Plus some natural ways to boost your milk supply.

Breastfeeding: Over-Supply Issues

As beautiful and natural as breastfeeding is, it can also be wrought with issues and difficulty. When my daughter, Little Girl, was born I was thrilled to see her take well to nursing. Having breastfed my son till he was 19 months old I felt comfortable and confident breastfeeding.

breastfeeding newborn

As second time mom I was much more relaxed and truly enjoyed having a sweet little newborn to snuggle and nurse again. As we headed from from the hospital I thought, this is going to be smooth sailing. Little did I know that a breastfeeding challenge was just on the horizon.

A few days after coming home from the hospital things started to get tricky. It had only been six months since my son weaned, so my milk came in quickly this time around. I breastfeed my babies on command and Little Girl’s hunger cues were clear. She continued to latch well and nursed typically 6-8 minutes on each side every 3 to 4 hours. Sometimes I needed to work to keep her awake and on task while nursing, but overall our feedings went well.

The trouble started after breastfeeding.

-Breastfeeding- Over-Supply Issues Mom sleeping
L.O.v.B. Photography
After nursing it was difficult to help Little Girl burp, but she was clearly uncomfortable and gassy. She seemed dissatisfied and agitated, yet would not latch to take any more milk. I started to dread nursing Little Girl because I knew it would cause her discomfort… talk about mom guilt! Then I noticed her diapers change. Her stools went from golden and seedy to green and foamy. A baby crabby baby with green foamy poop- that’s when I knew something was up!
After a call to the lactation consultant and some research on kellymom.com, an excellent breastfeeding resource, I figured out that I had an over supply issue. Little Girl never completely emptied my breasts, so she was getting too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. Foremilk is the protein-rich milk baby ingests at the beginning of a feeding. Towards the end of feeding on one side, as the breast is more emptied the baby ingests fat-rich hindmilk. (Here is a great explanation of foremilk and hindmilk.) Too much protein-rich foremilk without the balance of fat-rich hindmilk can cause a baby to be hungry but too bloated and gassy to continue nursing. An over supply issue can make a breastfed baby seem colicky. (Here is a helpful article about colic in breastfed babies.)
Once my lactation consultant and I identified the over supply issue addressing it was fairly easy. To help Little Girl get more hindmilk than foremilk, my lactation consultant suggested I hand express or pump a little before nursing to eliminate some foremilk without impacting my supply.
Each feeding I focused on Little Girl completely emptying one side, instead getting her to nurse on both sides. I was amazed to find that most of the time Little Girl was satisfied with nursing on one side per feeding. At first nursing on just one side left my other breast engorged and uncomfortable but my body adjusted quickly. At the time that I’m writing this, Little Girl’s now four months old and she just started nursing on both sides. We’re in a great nursing rhythm that works well for her and me. Little Girl is healthy, gaining weight as she should be, and we’re both enjoying our nursing relationship.

Breastfeeding can be one of the most emotionally loaded aspects of mothering an infant so proper support is key. Throughout my over supply issues, my lactation consultant was not just an excellent resource, she was my cheerleader. If you are having difficulty breastfeeding I encourage you to seek help. Look here to find a lactation consultant in your area or here to find a Le Leche League group in your area. You got this mama!

Have you faced a breastfeeding challenge? How did you overcome it?

The First Time I Ever Breastfed a Baby

The First Time I Ever Breastfed a BabyI have partnered with Babywise.life; all opinions are 100% my own.

I did everything a first time expectant mother should do; I went to birth classes and like the dutiful mother-to-be that I was I attended breastfeeding class. Not because I wanted to attend one more class but I just knew that it was the right thing to do. I mean how hard can breastfeeding be? I had nipples and as far as I could tell two working breasts. I mean sure they hadn’t been put to the test in any way other than pleasure but breastfeeding can’t be that difficult. The baby will just naturally take to my breast and voilà! Baby’s fed and happy and I will just begin to lose hordes of weight.

The First Time I Ever Breastfed a Baby

The First Time I Ever Breastfed a Baby

The first time I ever breastfed a baby did not go the way it did in the video I watched in my breastfeeding class.

The first time I ever breastfed a baby, I had no idea that my baby wouldn’t be able to latch on.

The first time I ever breastfed a baby I needed help from my nurse.

The first time I ever breastfed a baby I sat and cried because nothing was working and I felt like a complete failure.

The first time I ever breastfed a baby I cursed the day I decided to breastfeed my baby.

The first time I ever breastfed a baby they told me it would get better.

…but it didn’t get any better.

The First Time I Ever Breastfed a Baby
Photography by Photography by Nealy

Every time my son would cry while we were still in the hospital I dreaded what was coming next. “Ugh,” I thought to myself, “He’s hungry…again.” I would press the call button on my bed because I needed help from my nurse. I just could not get my son to latch to my breast. I waited patiently as my husband held our son and the nurses would come with a new contraption to try to get him to understand how to nurse. Syringes with this sugar water solution, manually compressing the colostrum out of my breast so that he would get a taste of what was coming and then open his mouth wide enough. Every single time we used all of the tricks in the books but it never really did get any better. Then the time came to leave the hospital. I sobbed uncontrollably. I couldn’t believe that they were sending me home with this tiny baby whom I couldn’t feed! Were they crazy?

Finally getting help

Things only continued to get worse and by day three my son had lost a significant amount of his birth weight, had jaundice and needed a bilirubin bed. The home health nurse who came to visit us watch me try to feed my son and she watched us fail miserably. I sat and sobbed, feeling not only like a failure but also like a complete basket case because I couldn’t stop crying. The home health nurse was so sweet though and she offered me something that dramatically changed my breastfeeding journey with my son: A nipple shield.

I used the nipple shield and supplemented with formula after every feeding and my son gained enough weight back in time that he didn’t need to be admitted to the hospital because of his jaundice. I had never heard of a nipple shield before so I entrusted the advice of good old Google. I never should’ve done that.

The First Time I Ever Breastfed a Baby
Photography by Photography by Nealy

Every single article that I read said that nipple shields were quite possibly the worst thing you could use when trying to breastfeed your baby. Not only would my son never learn how to properly latch to my breast but the plastic that the shield is made of would take away any benefit my breastmilk had. Sounds crazy, right? It was. The articles I read made it sound like I just needed to give up because my efforts were worthless.

My trip to see an angel…the lactation consultant.

In a last act of desperation my husband and I went in with our son to see a lactation consultant. This was it, the final test in whether or not I could be breastfeeding this child. I shamefully pulled out my nipple shield as she asked to watch how I feed my baby. I started sobbing when she asked me what my concerns were. I told her that I was so sorry and that my body was broken; I couldn’t feel my baby by myself I cried to her. She looked at me with these empathetic eyes and rubbed my son’s full head of newborn hair.

“Oh honey,” she said, “This is not your fault at all. The problem is your son, not your body. He is a disorganized sucker.” She had me watch how he struggled, without the nipple shield, to suck, swallow and breathe. She was right. He couldn’t figure it out on his own but when we added the nipple shield back into our routine he got it. I asked her if it was really okay to use the nipple shield and then told her my findings from my extensive Google research. She reassured me that it was really fine and a lot of the information out on the internet was from old studies. She encouraged me to use the nipple shield and said that as long as he was eating that is what mattered. Then she gave me her number and told me to call her whenever I had questions. She wrote down notes and handed me a copy. I referenced those notes more than once over the course of a month. I even called her once or twice and much to my surprise she called me to check up on me.

The First Time I Ever Breastfed a Baby
Alexis Colon; photograhy by Kate Martin Photography

A word of advice for you…

Don’t give up if you really want to breastfeed your baby.

Take the advice of lactation consultants. If they are anything but kind and gentle find a new one.

Do not Google breastfeeding problems; you’ll feel like a failure especially if you’re already in a fragile head space.

Understand that struggling with breastfeeding is fairly normal, not every baby gets it naturally. Not every situation will be addressed in the breastfeeding class you take.

Be flexible.

Don’t be hard on yourself.

Fed is best.

Would it be amazing is every mother could easily breastfeed their baby without any problems? Yes. Sometimes that isn’t possible though and that’s okay.

Be open to suggestions.

Accept the support you need from those around you.

Do not belittle yourself, you’ve grown a human inside you for the last nine months for goodness sakes!

First Time Mom Advice: The First Time I Ever Breastfed a Baby (1)

Have you struggled with breastfeeding? What did you do to overcome that struggle?

Support Breastfeeding Mothers

breastfeeding support

breastfeeding support

Just so you know, there are affiliate links in this blog post; it won’t cost you anything extra, however, should you make a purchase from one of the links I’ll receive a small commission for your purchase. Thank you for supporting my family!

Having successfully breastfed two babies from birth into toddlerhood I feel incredibly breast. Oops, I mean, blessed! Research shows that, while formula is an important option for many, breast is truly best for the health of a baby. In fact, breastfeeding is an important component in the Centers for Disease Control’s “Healthy People 2020 Objective for the Nation.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies until they are 6 month olds and then continue breastfeeding “for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother as complementary foods are introduced.” In light of this recommendation and the many benefits of breastfeeding (or exclusively pumping), one may wonder, Why don’t all moms nurse their babies? 

What I don’t know from experience I know from watching many of my friends. While “breast is best” nursing can be fraught with struggle. That said, many breastfeeding challenges can be over come with the right help.

The Challenge

The numbers speak to the challenges facing nursing mothers. The CDC’s 2014 Breastfeeding Reportcard shows that in 2014: 79% of infants started breastfeeding, 40.7% of 3 month old babies were exclusively breastfed, by 6 months 49% of babies were breastfed (while only 18.8% were exclusively breastfed at 6 months before starting solids) and by 12 months only 29% of babies were breastfed. What starts as a promising number of infants nursing at birth quickly dwindles and falls short of the AAP’s recommendation of breastfeeding throughout baby’s first year. At first glance, I have a hard time wrapping my head around these numbers. Perhaps it’s because I contribute to a “semi-crunchy” blog or because I work for a cloth diaper company, but it seems like everywhere I look on social media I see moms, companies, and hard-working “lactivists” waving the banner of “breast is best.” If breastfeeding is so good for baby, mom, and even society, why aren’t more moms breastfeeding their babies through the first 12 months?

Then I stop and think beyond my own experience. Given the physical and emotional rigors of newborn care, needing to heal from childbirth, common nursing challenges, potential culture stigmas working against breastfeeding moms, and (for many) needing to return to work only 6 weeks or less after giving birth; it’s no wonder a lot of moms stop or do not even attempt breastfeeding.

What Can We Do?

Be compassionate.

One thing we all can do is compassionately support all moms.

As my sister said in a post last year, To the Formula Feeding Mom: An Apology, behind every formula feeding mom there is a story. Perhaps this mom tried breastfeeding but didn’t have support to help overcome her nursing challenges. Perhaps she nursed for awhile but after returning to work her supply dried up because her workplace was not conducive or accommodating to her needs as a nursing mother. (See this helpful Kelly Mom article detailing a nursing mothers rights in the workplace.) Perhaps this mom wants to breastfeed but needs to be on medication that is not compatible with nursing.

Motherhood is hard, period. We need to show kindness and not judgment to all moms whether they breastfeed or not.

supporting breastfeeding mothers

A quick, but loving, note to formula-feeding moms, who are sick of seeing “breast is best” all over their news feeds: Nursing moms need your compassion as well. I can image it may be tiring and perhaps even annoying to have the breastfeeding banner seemingly waved in your face all the time. And yes, all the pro-breastfeeding cheerleading may feel like a judgement of your personal choice, but please don’t take the defensive. I do not know your story and I am sorry if you’ve felt squashed by all the “breast is best” enthusiasm. That said, try not to roll your eyes because that cheer-leading may be exactly what another struggling mom needs to hear. In the end we are all moms wanting to do what we feel is the best for our kids and our families.

Be real.

Genuine narratives carry much power. Being honest about our breastfeeding experiences helps pave the way for other moms in our spheres of influence. As first time mom, I can’t tell you how grateful I was to have seen and heard about other moms breastfeeding struggles and victories. These stories, along with support from my family and mom friends, got me through the intense first weeks of nursing a newborn.

Sometimes “being real” means holding our tongues and creating a safe place for struggling moms to share. Often all a mom needs is the opportunity to talk without fear of judgement or receiving advice that she is not ready to process.

breast feeding support

As with childbirth, it’s easy for new moms to focus only on the horror stories they’ve heard so remember to share about your positive breastfeeding experiences as well as your struggles. Veteran nursing moms, being real means that we are ready to answer the question, Why did you choose to breastfeed and why is it important to you? 

Be the change.

Nursing moms not only need support, they need advocates. They need executives and administrators to evaluate their workplace’s accommodations for nursing mothers and take action if things need improvement. They need moms to fill out surveys about the lactation resources available through their health care provider. They need people in charge of places of play and worship to consider how to make their spaces more welcoming for breastfeeding moms. Breastfeeding moms need everyone in their community to welcome them and their right to nurse when ever and when ever their babies need. Advocating for and helping normalize breastfeeding not only serves nursing mothers but the entire community.

Supporting breastfeeding mothers is something everyone can do. By being compassionate, real, and ready to advocate for nursing moms we can help empower more moms to breastfeed as long as they choose. One mother at a time, one baby at a time we can make a difference.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control Breastfeeding Report Card 

Benefits of Breastfeeding

American Academy of Pediatrics Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk

Common breastfeeding challenges 

Four Ways to Boost Milk Supply

Four Ways to Boost Milk Supply. Read more on firsttimemommn.com
Four Ways to Boost Milk Supply. Read more on firsttimemommn.com
Just so you know, there are affiliate links in this blog post; it won’t cost you anything extra, however, should you make a purchase from one of the links I’ll receive a small commission for your purchase. Thank you for supporting my family!
You’ve made the decision to breastfeed your baby. You’re minding your own business and everything is fine until one day you notice that your little angel is never satisfied after nursing. Suddenly you feel like panicked feeling. You begin to think, Is this it? Am I losing my milk supply? What is going on??  You drag out your breast pump and while you understand it won’t be the same result as your sweet babe’s suckling you have to figure out if your supply is decreased. Despite waiting three hours to pump, your results are less than what you have been able to pump before. Your fear has become a reality: your supply has, for some reason unbeknownst to you, taken a dip.
[Tweet “4 ways to boost milk supply. #breastfeeding “]
That was me 7 years ago with my son. At four months The Boy wanted to eat every hour and a half and was never satisfied after I fed him. Worried, I looked for natural ways to boost my supply.

Four ways to boost milk supply

Four ways to boost milk supply; breastfeeding tips

First things first – nurse, nurse and more nursing!

Your body knows what to do. It works on supply and demand. If you’re able to, stay home for a few days and do nothing but nurse your baby. Relax, watch TV and cuddle that little one while she helps boost your supply. This obviously would be easier said than done, especially if you only have one child, but if you can swing it why not give it a try?

Look at factors that may be contributing to supply.

Are you taking any allergy medication? Do you smoke? Is there a lot of stress in your life? Are you eating enough? Are you staying hydrated? Are you supplementing with formula, bottle-fed breast milk or solids? These are all things that can affect milk supply. I realized that the problem with my supply was the allergy medication that I was taking. Allergy medication works by draining the mucus from your cavities (sinuses, etc.), however, the same is true of your milk ducts. At least that’s how my lactation consultant explained it to me. Once we figured that out, I stopped the medication and started using a galactagogue.
Fenugreek is a great herbal galactagogue.
Photo credit heymrleej, Flickr

What is a galactagogue?

A galactagogue is a substance that helps increase milk supply; the substances can be herbal or prescribed by your physician. A galactagogue, even the herbs that naturally increase milk production, should be used as a last resort. I used fenugreek and it definitely helped boost my supply. Reader be warned though – if you take fenugreek your milk and poop will smell like maple syrup; your baby will smell like it too! Other galactagogues are blessed thistle and alfalfa. As always, and even with herbal remedies, consult with a trusted physician or lactation consultant before consuming. The herb, fennel, can be used to aid in letdown which would be good to use if you need to pump more frequently due to working full-time.

Bring on the cookies!

The web has a ton of lactation boosting cookie recipes. When looking for a recipe you’ll want to find one that includes the ingredients oatmeal, Brewer’s yeast and flax seed. Do not purchase quick cooking oats; you need the old fashioned kind. And the Brewer’s yeast? A good, hearty dark beer does help boost milk supply and Brewer’s yeast does too. As for the flax seed – buy the milled kind.

Check out these recipes so you can make your own lactation cookie:

Conservamom’s Easy Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookie

Leettle House in Kentucky’s Gluten-Free Steel Cut Oats Lactation Cookies

You can also purchase pre-made cookies, you know, for those super duper tired times when you just do not want to bake a batch of cookie, have a few of these on hand in your pantry:

Milkmakers

Boobie Bar

Four Ways to Boost Milk Supply-

Remember, before you start fretting look at your baby: Is he satisfied after a breastfeeding session? Is he gaining weight? If the answer is “yes” to those questions chances are your supply is fine and there’s no need to worry.

And if you have an oversupply problem or think you might read about Laura’s experience here.