It is so disheartening and crushing to feel that you might not be making enough milk to nourish your baby. Take comfort in knowing that the majority of healthy mothers are able to increase their milk supply and make enough milk to feed their little ones. The first step is to determine whether or not you have a low milk supply to begin with. Many mothers are concerned that they do not have enough milk, when in fact they are producing the perfect amount for their child. A few things to realize when you are evaluating your milk supply:
- It is perfectly normal for newborns to breastfeed frequently. Just because your baby wants to nurse 30 minutes after you fed her does not mean that she is not receiving enough milk.
- Milk production is a system of supply and demand. When your baby is able to nurse whenever she needs to, most often this will let your body know exactly how much milk to produce(don’t worry, you are not going to spoil your baby).
- Breastfeeding should not be painful. If it is painful to nurse your child then please check her latch, and if it is still painful then consider visiting a Lactation Consultant. A poor latch will effect how much milk your baby is receiving as well as the supply and demand process taking place between your child and your body.
- After mature milk comes in, a few days after childbirth, your breasts will probably feel very full. As your milk supply regulates and your breasts feel less full, it may seem that you are not making enough milk. More than likely you are now making the perfect amount of milk!
- Your baby is much better at removing milk then a pump; so how much milk you can pump is not necessarily indicative of how much milk you are producing(and your baby is receiving).
So how are you supposed to know if your baby is getting enough milk? Well…what comes in must come out!
- A baby between the ages of 4 days and 6 weeks will usually have about 4 wet diapers and 3 stools during a 24 hour period.
- It can be difficult to determine when a disposable diaper is wet with a young baby. Compare the small weight difference between a wet diaper and a dry diaper side by side so you know what to look for.
- It is typical for a baby to lose some weight during the few days after birth. After the first few days most babies gain at least one ounce a day – be sure that you are using the same scale every time you weigh your baby.
If you still do not feel like you are producing enough milk, there are a few things that you can try(please also make contact with a La Leche League Leader or an IBCLC).
- Nurse Nurse Nurse! Nurse your baby as often as possible. Consider crawling into bed with your baby for a day or two of skin-to-skin contact, cuddling, and nursing.
- When your baby starts to nod off or when sucking slows down during a feeding, switch to the other side. You can do this multiple times if your baby is happily nursing.
- Rent a hospital grade breast pump. If you are feeling like you are not removing enough milk, or if baby is not wanting to nurse frequently, then try pumping between nursing sessions.
- Avoid pacifiers, if your baby wants to suck on something it might as well be your breasts so that your body is signaled to make more milk!
- If supplementing becomes necessary, consider using a device that allows baby to nurse at the breast while receiving extra milk via a tube running next to the nipple. Finger feeding(with a tube attached to your finger) is also a great option; early bottles can lead to nipple confusion which may make the situation worse.
- Take care of yourself by resting, eating a balanced diet, and drinking enough fluids.
- An herb called Fenugreek is helpful to many mothers who are trying to increase their milk supply. More information on the herb, and suggested dosage can be found here.
Remember to call a La Leche League Leader or an IBCLC if you are still concerned about your milk supply, as early intervention is a key component of successful breastfeeding. If you have had something specific that has worked for you please leave a comment!