Although breastfeeding is natural, it is still a learned skill that requires a good support network. The time it takes to exclusively breastfeed is the equivalent of a full time job, so extra support is essential!
Part of a good support network includes experts that can help if any problems arise.
A common worry that comes up for new mothers is “Am I making enough milk?” A huge number of women are not meeting their own breastfeeding goals and many times they stop early due to perceived low supply or their baby not gaining weight at the expected rate.
Is the baby drinking enough?
If you’re breastfeeding, you can’t ‘see’ exactly how much milk baby is consuming. But there are some signs that you can look out for. Can you see or hear your baby swallowing? Does baby seem satisfied after feeding? Is your baby wetting at least six nappies/diapers a day? Is baby pooing regularly? Is baby gaining weight as expected?
Does the baby have a health issue?
Some babies are born with tongue-ties that make it difficult to feed effectively. Other conditions that could effect the breastfeeding relationship are; Down Syndrome, being born prematurely, nervous system or gastrointestinal abnormalities as well as other oral-motor dysfunctions.
Seek the help of a professional
If you suspect something isn’t right, it is a good idea to have the baby checked by a lactation consultant or paediatrician to check for tongue ties or other medical conditions. It’s important to have the latch assessed to see if the baby is efficiently removing milk.
If problems arise, the mother can see a professional to check for conditions that can hinder milk production (or release) like inverted nipples, thyroid dysfunction, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or insufficient glandular tissue (IGT or breast hypoplasia).
It’s worth re-iterating that adequate support is super important for breastfeeding success. A postpartum doula and breastfeeding counsellor can make the world of difference to your experience in those first few months after birth.
Increasing milk production
There are many things that can help increase milk supply. It’s important to remember that the more that is demanded from the breasts, the more they will try to supply (like a demand - supply system) . It’s a good idea to make sure you’re feeding and/or expressing at least 8 times every 24 hours.
It’s important to remove the milk frequently. This sends the message to the body to ‘make more milk’. Other things to try are; massaging the breasts before and during feeding or expressing, using heat packs, practicing relaxation techniques, using galactagogues, using breast compressions while feeding and boosting oxytocin naturally with things you enjoy.
Supplementing may be necessary
If baby isn’t gaining weight as expected, then supplementation may be needed. There are many ways to deliver this. A bottle can be used that has expressed milk, donor milk or formula. The baby can also use a feeding-tube device at the breast so that they can receive the supplement whilst also stimulating the breasts to increase supply.
Every drop of breast milk is precious. You are most likely making enough milk for your baby. But there are many options available if you are needing to boost your milk supply or needing a little extra help.
Please reach out if you have breastfeeding questions or would like more support during your postpartum. The right support makes ALL the difference to your journey.
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