One of the most common reasons mothers give for weaning is that they feel they don’t have enough milk for their baby. Here are some ideas to help you work out if your supply really is low and some suggestions that will help you make more milk, if it is low!
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of your baby’s life and for breastfeeding to continue, with the addition of other foods, until 2 years or older.
How breastfeeding works
You start making colostrum around week 16 of your pregnancy. This thick, yellowish milk is more concentrated than mature milk. It is rich in protein and antibodies that help to protect your baby from illness. Your baby only needs a small amount of food in the first few days after birth. The amount of colostrum in your breasts is enough to meet his needs. Mature breastmilk, which is thin and bluish-white in appearance, gradually replaces colostrum over this time.
When your baby suckles at the breast, a hormone is released into your bloodstream. One of the hormones (prolactin) activates the milk-making tissues. The other hormone (oxytocin) causes the milk to let down.
How do I know if my baby is getting enough breastmilk?
- At least 6 to 8 wet nappies in 24 hours. The urine should be odourless and clear/very pale in colour. A very young baby will usually have 3 or more soft or runny bowel movements each day for several weeks. An older baby is likely to have fewer bowel movements than this. Strong, dark urine or formed bowel motions suggest that the baby needs more breastmilk and you should seek medical advice.
- Good skin colour and muscle tone.
- Your baby is alert and reasonably contented and does not want to feed constantly. It is however normal for babies to have times when they feed more frequently. It is also normal for babies to wake for night feeds. Some babies sleep through the night at an early age while others wake during the night for some time.
- Good weight gains (150-240 grams per week 0-4months)
How to make more milk: Demand = Supply
- Deep latch
- Feed often 8-12 times in 24 hrs
- Let your baby finish the first breast before switching to the second breast.
- Or, you may find it helps to change sides several times during a feed, whenever your baby's sucking seems to become less strong. Some people find that this encourages the baby to suck more strongly and stimulates a good let-down reflex.
- Breast compressions
- Switch feeding
- You may find that your baby has fussy periods when he wants to breastfeed more frequently.
- To increase your supply: Express straight after feeds(10mins double pumping, 20 mins single pumping)
- Try and relax when feeding to help milk let down.
- A baby who is well attached and positioned is more able to drain the breast well.
MORE FREQUENT FEEDING MEANS MORE MILK!
- Feed your baby more often than usual.
- Check that baby is well positioned at the breast.
- Allow the baby to decide the length of a feed.
If you have tried these ideas and are still finding low supply to be a problem, it would be a good time to see a Lactation Consultant - see my breastfeeding packages available:
Supplementing with herbs to boost supply such as Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle and Goats Rue also provide great success