According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 75% of new moms begin nursing their newborns, but many cease doing so within the first few months, either midway or fully. Concerns about insufficient milk production are one of the most prominent causes of this. The majority of breastfeeding mothers can produce enough breast milk for their infants. Only 10% to 15% of breastfeeding parents are known to experience true poor supply. When the milk supply is acceptable, but other concerns (such as colic or a growth spurt) are present, parents may wonder if their baby is getting enough milk. When there is a shortage of supply, it is usually just temporary because there are things you can do to increase your breast milk supply.
Why do you think your breast milk supply is low?
Problems with milk production are a lot more common when moms initially begin nursing, but they can even occur after months of having a successful feeding. Low milk supply is caused by a variety of factors, including:
- When Nursing or pumping is done less: Breast milk production is dependent on how much the baby takes out. As newborns suckle more frequently, production increases, allowing moms to provide more milk. Similarly, if nursing sessions are discontinued, supply may alter evenly. When mothers return to work, they may notice a drop in production, especially if they are unable to pump consistently during the day.
- If you have stress: Stress and breastfeeding have a delicate relationship. The hormone named oxytocin, which a nursing mother requires for a proper letdown, might be inhibited by the adrenaline released during periods of high emotion.
- Supplementation: While formula-feeding your newborn baby when nursing is occasionally necessary for their health, it can interfere with milk production. It is possible that nursing women will discover that their babies are not draining the breast regularly enough to keep a suitable supply.
- If you are dehydrated: It is quite challenging to remember to drink enough amount of water your body needs or to be available for nutritious, low-sodium meals. Rapid weight loss is more likely to affect supply, so try to lose one or two pounds per month at a calm and steady pace. Moderate physical activity once cleared for exercise can help you lose weight faster without affecting your supply.
- Feedings that are timed: Nursing according to the baby’s demand can be annoying but scheduling too much milk production can be detrimental. When the breasts are emptied on a regular basis, supply increases quickly, but scheduled feedings may be too far apart for this to happen. Similarly, nursing sessions that finish too soon can disrupt supply.
- If you are obese: Obese women are more likely to have reduced milk production before they become pregnant. Insulin resistance, which is commonly associated with obesity, may be to blame, according to research.
- Glucose intolerance: This can interfere with numerous stages of lactation, including mammary gland development during early pregnancy and the delayed initiation of lactogenesis (milk production).
- Hormonal contraceptives are a type of hormonal contraception: While most hormonal contraception is safe to use while breastfeeding, it can cause a rapid decrease in supply. Because of the estrogen in these contraceptives, milk production may be hampered, and breastfeeding may be discontinued early.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a polycystic ovary syndrome PCOS affects many women, making it difficult to conceive and carry children to term. Similarly, the disease might make breastfeeding difficult. While PCOS can cause decreased milk production in the early stages of nursing, the problem usually goes away with time. Breastfeeding rates are similar in women with and without PCOS at three months.
- If you are taking medicine for the common cold: The breast milk supply can be hampered by some drugs.
How do you know your baby is getting enough milk or not?
Some newborns can finish a full meal in less than 20 minutes, while others will require an hour to finish the same amount of milk. When your infant may cry, fuss, or appear distracted while breastfeeding for a variety of reasons, it is rare that it is related to a lack of milk production. Teething, gas discomfort, or simply being fatigued can make a child fussy. As babies get older, they become more easily distracted. When you are trying to breastfeed, this can interfere with feedings and lead them to pull away.
Every baby has various requirements. Most babies require 8 to 12 feedings in a 24-hour period, with others requiring even more. Your infant will eat more efficiently as they grow older. This suggests that they may be obtaining more milk in less time, despite the fact that their feedings are substantially shorter. Other newborns prefer to linger and suck longer, often until the milk supply is depleted. Follow your baby’s lead and feed until they want to stop.
You should hear your baby swallow while you feed them and see a small amount of milk in their mouth when they unlatch. After breastfeeding, your baby will appear pleased and content, fall asleep quickly, and your breasts should feel less full than they did before the feeding began.
If you are still concerned, make sure your baby is gaining weight, that they are peeing, and if they are dehydrated to ensure your baby is getting enough milk.
- In the first few days after birth, your newborn babies might lose up to 10% of their birth weight. They should, however, begin gaining weight steadily following that initial drop. Most babies grow at least 0.7 to 1 ounce every day, and within 10 to 14 days, they are back to their birth weight.
If you are concerned about your supply, weighted feeds are one option. Simply weigh your infant before you start nursing and again after the feed is finished. The change in weight will give you an estimate of how much they ate. You can also weigh your baby every evening to ensure that he or she is gaining weight. Your baby’s pediatrician will also keep track of your baby’s weight at each visit so that they can tell you if they are gaining weight as planned.
- Wet diapers are an indication of your kid is receiving adequate breast milk. You may not change many wet diapers the first day or two following your baby’s birth, but as their babies keep drinking milk, the number of wet diapers should increase. Your baby should be using at least six to eight wet diapers per day if not more. If you are concerned about your baby’s milk intake, keep track of how many wet diapers he or she has used during the day and contact your doctor if you have any discomfort.
- Do not be too concerned about how long it takes for your kid to poop, especially around the first few weeks. It is because breast milk is quickly digested and so produces little waste, some babies can go three to four days (or even longer) without bowel movements.
- If you notice any of the following dehydration symptoms-like less frequent urination, when they are crying, there are not many tears, if their eyes appear to be sunken, lethargy, if their mouth feels parched, or if they are showing reluctance towards feeding, or even the yellowing of their skin or eyes which is a common symptom of jaundice, seek medical help right away since your baby may be too dehydrated.
If you are pumping and nursing at the same time, keep in mind that the amount of milk expressed with a manual or electric pump might be deceiving, as a pump typically draws less milk than breastfeeding. You may not be able to pump as much milk as a baby can when it nurses, causing you to worry that your baby’s feedings are not as frequent as they should be. If your baby is gaining weight, has a lot of wet diapers, and overall appears happy and healthy, they are getting enough milk, so do not be too concerned.
Regular visits to your kid’s pediatrician can assist identify whether your milk supply is insufficient or whether your infant is malnourished. Keeping track of your feedings and diaper changes might also help your doctor figure out whether your milk supply is poor. If your milk production is low, formula supplementation may be an option. To avoid premature weaning, consult your doctor or a lactation consultant before supplementing feedings with formula. A lactation specialist can devise a supplementation strategy for you to follow to progressively boost milk production while decreasing supplementation.
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