Concerns of low breast milk supply are very common among breastfeeding mothers. However, simply listening to your baby’s needs, learning to recognize your baby’s feeding cues, breastfeeding often and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can remedy many of these concerns. Occasionally, some mothers have more serious supply issues that can be treated by working with a Lactation Consultant or healthcare provider.
Typically, when you first begin breastfeeding, your supply develops based on your child’s needs. Thus, it is particularly important that you breastfeed often. Breastfeeding as soon as possible – preferably within an hour after birth – will help you and your baby get off to a good start. The skin-to-skin contact encouraged by breastfeeding is also beneficial. Many moms also choose to pump to increase supply and collect additional breast milk. It can be beneficial to continue to pump for 2 minutes after the last drop of milk comes out. This will help to stimulate an increase in milk production.
In the beginning, you may feel as though you need to breastfeed continuously in order to empty your breasts. However, as you continue to breastfeed you may feel like you aren’t producing as much milk. Don’t be alarmed. Your body has just become more in tune with your baby’s needs. Just think about it, the two of you have become quite the breastfeeding team! So, listen to your little one and feed whenever he or she seems hungry. Likewise, don’t stop feeding until your baby looses interest. A breastfeeding routine based on your baby’s needs, rather than a strict schedule will help ensure you produce the right amount of milk for your child.
With a new baby, it can be hard to focus on your own health and well-being – but it’s important! So, adjust your perspective and consider your healthy lifestyle a necessary step. Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, get as much sleep as possible and always drink enough water to satisfy your thirst. Some moms even benefit from taking a nursing vacation. This means spending 2 to 3 days breastfeeding, cuddling and relaxing with your baby. The rest will help rejuvenate your body and the time the baby spends at breast will help to activate the hormones that stimulate milk production. On top of that, who doesn’t love cuddling with their little one?
Maintaining your supply can also depend on the breastfeeding habits you develop. It is crucial to make sure your baby is nursing efficiently, because if less milk is removed from the breast, your supply will decrease. Check that your baby is latching properly. Also, avoid the use of bottles and pacifiers until after breastfeeding is well established. Those items can lead to nipple confusion for your baby, making it harder for him or her to nurse. Try “switch nursing,” which means alternating breasts two or three times throughout each feeding. If your baby begins to fall asleep, change breasts to keep your baby alert and interested. Also, gently massage and compress your breasts during feedings. This will encourage your baby to breastfeed longer.
Low milk supply is a very common concern among breastfeeding mothers; so don’t be afraid to ask for support. Feel free to reach out to your healthcare provider or Lactation Consultant for additional tips.
Do you have supply tips of your own? Please share them in the comments below.