Often mothers worry about their milk supply. Occassionally I hear about a mother with too much but more often then not it’s mum’s with too little.
First things first, always keep the following in mind.
Call your doctor, midwife and/or lactation consultant if:
- Baby is having no wet or dirty diapers
- Baby has dark colored urine after day 3
(should be pale yellow to clear)
- Baby has dark colored stools after day 4
(should be mustard yellow, with no meconium)
- Baby has fewer wet/soiled diapers or nurses less
frequently than the goals listed here
- Mom has symptoms of mastitis
(sore breast with fever, chills, flu-like aching)
- Supplementing. Nursing is a supply & demand process. Milk is produced as your baby nurses, and the amount that she nurses lets your body know how much milk is required. Every bottle (of formula, juice or water) that your baby gets means that your body gets the signal to produce that much less milk.
- Nipple confusion. A bottle requires a different type of sucking than nursing, and it is easier for your baby to extract milk from a bottle. As a result, giving a bottle can either cause your baby to have problems sucking properly at the breast, or can result in baby preferring the constant faster flow of the bottle.
- Pacifiers. Pacifiers can cause nipple confusion. They can also significantly reduce the amount of time your baby spends at the breast, which may cause your milk supply to drop.
- Nipple shields can lead to nipple confusion. They can also reduce the stimulation to your nipple or interfere with milk transfer, which can interfere with the supply-demand cycle.
- Scheduled feedings interfere with the supply & demand cycle of milk production and can lead to a reduced supply, sometimes several months later rather than immediately. Nurse your baby whenever she is hungry.
- Sleepy baby. For the first few weeks, some babies are very sleepy and only demand to nurse infrequently and for short periods. Until baby wakes up and begins to demand regular nursing, nurse baby at least every two hours during the day and at least every 4 hours at night to establish your milk supply.
- Cutting short the length of nursings. Stopping a feeding before your baby ends the feeding herself can interfere with the supply-demand cycle. Also, your milkincreases in fat content later into a feeding, which helps baby gain weight and last longer between feedings.
- Offering only one breast per feeding. This is fine if your milk supply is well-established and your baby is gaining weight well. If you’re trying to increase your milk supply, let baby finish the first side, then offer the second side.
- Health or anatomical problems with baby can prevent baby from removing milk adequately from the breast, thus decreasing milk supply.
- Stop using bottles, pacifiers and formula. Offer the breast often and make sure you’re feeding AT LEAST every 2 hours during the day and 4 hours at night.
- Make sure you’re eating and drinking well.
- See a lactation consultant.
- Forget the housework and concentrate on feeding. Take a nursing vacation for 2-3 days, take your baby to bed with you all day, all night, watch a DVD and just feed, feed, feed.
- Switch sides while nursing every time it changes to comfort suck many times during the feed to keep stimulating the let down reflex and stimulate supply.
- Eats oats, fenugreek, linseed, flaxseed, and brewer’s yeast. Try these lactation cookies.
- Consider pumping. Adding pumping sessions after or between nursing sessions can be very helpful – pumping is very important when baby is not nursing efficiently or frequently enough, and can speed things up in all situations. Your aim in pumping is to remove more milk from the breasts and/or to increase frequency of breast emptying. When pumping to increase milk supply, to ensure that the pump removes an optimum amount of milk from the breast, keep pumping for 2-5 minutes after the last drops of milk. However, adding even a short pumping session (increasing frequency but perhaps not removing milk thoroughly) is helpful.
- Consider a galactagogue. A substance (herb, prescription medication, etc.) that increases milk supply is called a galactagogue.
- Ask for motillium, a medication that can increase milk supply.
- Ask your health care provider to test for hyperthyroidism, this can effect milk supply and cause depression.
- Wear your baby and have lots of skin to skin.