If you choose to breastfeed one of the main concerns I hear from new Mums is the feeling of not having enough breast milk flowing. In reality, there usually is enough, or if there isn’t, it’s temporary, and the excess feeding from baby is increasing your supply. Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. Of course there may be other issues at work so do seek help from a trained breastfeeding support worker if you are unsure.
Breast milk is crucial in a child’s development. Several studies have also shown that babies who have breastfed longer built a deeper relationship with their mothers. They turn out to be smarter as adults and have less behavioural problems.
This is why it can be a huge cause of stress if the breast does not produce enough milk. Before you feel totally stressed about it, remember to stop and think: Is baby gaining weight? Is s/he producing wet and dirty nappies? Then there is no severe issue. That being said, there are some tips to help you below to increase your supply.
1. Don’t stress out
Perhaps, the fact that you are stressing out right now is already making the problem worse. Some studies have revealed that stressing out while nursing could affect the supply of milk. It can become a vicious cycle: worrying about supply leading to less milk. To solve this problem, take time to have deep breaths. Relax and do some yoga moves. If that seems impossible and a stupid suggestion when you have a baby to take care of, try taking some time out away from everyone else at home – enlist all those offers of help from friends, family and your partner. While the baby is asleep, you can do it. You may be able to leave home to get a massage or head to the gym if you can find a sitter to take care of your baby for a while. You will notice soon that your milk supply goes back to normal after taking some time to rest. Even if you can’t catch up on sleep, resting can work wonders.
2. Drink enough fluids
Breastmilk is a fluid made from your blood, and if your body does not have enough fluid intake, milk production is also affected. It is advised to drink 13 cups of liquids in a day. Drink more if you are feeling thirsty. As soon as you notice that your pee is yellow, go ahead and drink some more water. It is advised to just drink plain water or simply add powdered electrolyte mix. Avoid fizzy drinks and coffee if possible. If you really can’t avoid coffee, make sure you don’t go beyond two cups in a day. Go for decaf if you can.
3. Have a checkup for medical problems
There are medical conditions that could affect the production of breastmilk. Insufficient glandular tissue could be one of them. You will know if you have one if you notice that your body does not go through the same change that other Mums are talking about, especially in your breast region. Another sign is when it is sore or you feel that it is quite hard. Another medical condition is polycystic ovary syndrome. This does not affect women in the same way but it could be a potential factor.
If you lost a lot of blood while giving birth, this could temporarily affect milk supply. Full recovery and a course of iron tablets could restore the supply though. Make sure you consult your doctor so you will know what the problem really is.
4. Avoid medication
If possible, don’t take any medicine as it could alter your hormones, affecting the supply of milk. Unless they are really necessary and your doctor told you to take them, just avoid medicines. Allergy and cold medications are to be avoided, depending on the ingredients. Stick with prescription medicines only and avoid other brands not recommended by the doctor. Plain paracetamol is fine.
5. Pumping and feeding
It helps a lot if you keep pumping milk out of your breasts. It is the equivalent of having a baby feeding from you. When it comes to milk supply, always remember that if there is demand, it will keep flowing. Pumping can mimic the demand from the baby, but there is no substitute for a baby feeding. If baby wants to feed, let them so that they can build your supply. If you find you aren’t getting much break from feeding, try rest and fluids first. You can also pump from the other side whilst you feed the baby, or pump after feeding. Whether you are at work months after birthing or you are just at home, you need a clear pumping schedule. Besides, pumping lets you have continued milk supply for your baby so you can take a nap without being disturbed.
Check a quality baby gear guide for review if you want to know more about equipment and tools you need not just for breastfeeding, but for taking care of your baby in general.
Insufficient milk supply can be stressful, but don’t let it totally stress you out. Relax and be positive that things will soon get better. You are enough! If you have any questions, let me know. You can join our Parenting group on Facebook to meet other Mums and chat all things parenting and more.
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