When does the time come when you feel that your milk runs out before the baby is satiated? Hopefully never, but if you see that the milk you produce is no longer sufficient for ample feeding, you have a low milk supply. Actually, as a rule mothers have enough milk all along the way, but low milk supply is often a reason for worry for expectant mothers, albeit groundless. Nevertheless, there are moms who quit breastfeeding just because they found they were no longer able to produce milk.
Generally low milk supply, especially at early stages of breastfeeding, is a temporary occasion which can be put right once you have taken appropriate measures. As soon as you feel you don’t produce enough breast milk, you should consult your doctor, your health baby nurse, a lactation expert, or some other health care specialist. Yet some basic information about the possible causes of low milk supply and the ways to counteract them ought to be common knowledge among expectant mothers. Here are listed some complaints and symptoms related to the problem.
- The baby wants to be fed too often. At the first stage babies do feed quite frequently, they may want it up to 12 times a day, and it can be rather unexpected for the mother, but it does not follow that you don’t have enough milk. On the contrary, if you meet the baby’s needs, you set your body to producing as much milk as it may be necessary.
- My breasts are softer than before. That happens when you have adjusted to the baby’s feeding needs, any time between 3 weeks and a year after the birth. Your breasts may lose some of their fullness. But if the feeding comes off well, you don’t need to be concerned about it.
- The baby began to ask for feeding more often than before. That would mean that your baby has gotten to a more active period of growth; your body is likely to respond to that in a day or two and provide more milk.
- The baby stops to feed very early or earlier than before. Once again, you don’t need to worry about it if everything else progresses well. If it happens 2 or 3 months after the birth, it may mean that the baby has learned to feed better and needs less time to get satiated.
What can lead to producing less milk?
- The baby does not connect with the breast properly, which may also result in nipple problems like pains or injuries.
- The baby feeds less than is necessary. Babies under 8 weeks old should usually feed about 8 times per day.
- The baby’s manner of feeding is not efficient enough.
- Did you start to intersperse breastfeeding with artificial feeding?
- You had breast surgery in the past, especially if it was breast reduction.
- You have had mastitis lately.
- Smoking can often be the cause of that.
- You are taking oestrogen-containing contraceptives.
- Milk supply can be affected by some other medicines like herbal rugs or cold-curing medicines.
- Your general state of health may lead to low milk supply. This one is rare, occurring in under 5% of moms.
How to make sure that the baby is fully satiated
When you are into your second week of feeding, everything goes fine if the baby:
- wakes to be fed;
- settles after or soon after the feed;
- soaks up to 8 nappies (5 if they are heavy) in a day;
- has one or two yellow stools a day;
- has gained birth weight when he or she is about 2 weeks old and then begins to gain about 150 grams a week in the next three months.
The ways to increase breast milk supply
- The best and easiest way to take care of your sufficient milk supply is stimulate and empty your breasts often, an exercise that takes time. First, inquire about it from your child health nurse, a lactation expert or any other professional.
- When you put the baby to the breast, make sure he or she has only a nappy on, enabling you to get a close skin-to-skin contact. This way the baby will stay awake more easily and the hormones that are related to milk production will receive a better stimulation.
- Feed at the rate of 2-3 feeds an hour, which will make about 8 feeds in a day. At times you will need to wake the baby up; if he or she wakes up to be fed more often, it’s all right.
- Check the attachment, see that the baby sucks and swallows easily. If you think that things are not quite right, seek professional advice.
- Put the baby to each breast twice in turns for even stimulation; try and have them emptied properly.
- If the baby relaxed and fell asleep so that the feeding is terminated, express your breasts for the rest of the time at least twice, like 5 minutes for each one and then all over again.
- Remember to compress your breasts while feeding or expressing to ensure proper emptying; massage them.
- If there is a need to feed the baby extra, feed him or her expressed breast milk before any artificial food, making a long pause between the breast milk and the artificial formula.
- Time the feeding carefully. Your feeds should be about an hour long, not much longer, for both you and the baby will require a good rest in-between feeds.
Of course, milk supply can be improved by taking prescribed medicines, but before you go to your doctor for the prescription you’d do well to ascertain that you have tried all possible non-medication means of improving the situation.