Many families are worried about their breastmilk supplies. I think this comes from many places. The first place is the internet. Friend or foe, it has a lot of miss-information and people do like spreading their sad stories. I feel like it seems as if far more people struggle with breastfeeding period because we can all read about them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The fact is that you are more likely to complain about what is going poorly than crow about what is working.
That being said, breastmilk supply worries are real and of concern.
Is your baby gaining weight? For the first 3-4 days we expect babies to lose weight and then start gaining ON AVERAGE about 1 oz per 24 hours until about 16 weeks or so. At that point, we generally see weight gain slow to about 0.5 oz per 24 hours. After 9 months or so it slows to about 0.25 oz per 24 hours.
Is your baby having enough wet and poopy diapers? By day four, your baby is having at least 6 good, wet diapers and a total volume of poop in 24 hours that equals or exceeds 4 quarters worth (you know, coins).
Does your baby seems happy and content after a breast feed?
Are your breast gets softer during nursing?
Is your baby is actively feeding at the breast, not falling asleep right away?
Does your baby has lots of deep, slow chin drops while they are feeding?
Are you needing to use any banked breastmilk, donor breastmilk, or formula?
If you answered yes to questions 1-6 and no to question 7, most likely you are fine. If the answers for questions 1-6 are no and/or the answer to question 7 is yes, then you are most likely struggling a bit with your breastmilk supply.
Why do people struggle with breastmilk supply? According to Lisa Marasco and Diana West (The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk (2010- New Edition coming soon!), there are four major factors in the breastmilk supply equation:
These four factors are critical to making breastmilk but the one we have the most control over in the last one, frequent, effective breastmilk removal. Many mothers do not begin to this in the first days and often weeks after they have their babies. Most of my mothers who struggle with breastmilk production had a slow start to emptying their breasts often and effectively enough from day one.
The fact is we are not sure why breastmilk supply is an issue for many women but here are some other theories:
Here are some risk factors that seem to impact breastmilk supply:
What can be done to help upregulate a breastmilk supply? I like to say, if you can make some breastmilk, you can probably make some more! I would strongly encourage you to work with an IBCLC for this. Making more breastmilk seems to be like preventing the common cold, different people need different things. Be careful with herbs and medications! Many can be harmful to you!
1. Better milk removal
2. Better latch and positioning
3. Some breast pumping schedule ideas
Use “Hands on pumping techniques”
4. Galactagogues- Possible breastmilk increasers - These are only potentially effective if there is also good breastmilk removal!