One of the frequent concerns of new mothers is the milk supply. Whether too much or too little, mothers always end up fretting and seek for solutions from known ones who have undergone the same experience. It is often seen that mothers end up producing more milk than their baby needs. Also, many mothers are under the impression that if they do not feel full it’s not a sign of low breast milk supply.
Is my baby getting enough milk?
For mothers, who are skeptical about their milk supply, following are the list of signs to identify whether you are able to pacify your child’s hunger or not:
- Baby should have one or two wet nappies during the first few days, while receiving colostrum
- Around six to eight wet cloth nappies (five to six wet disposable nappies) per day (24 hours) after the third or fourth day when the milk ‘comes in’
- Baby must have at least two to five bowel movements every 24 hours for the first few months, although some babies will switch to less frequent but larger bowel movements at about six weeks
- Baby should nurse frequently, averaging at least 6 to 10 feeds per 24-hour period
- Mothers should notice their baby's swallowing sounds while breastfeeding.
- Mothers must track their baby’s weight after the fourth day of life, it should be at least 120 to 210 grams in weight per week
- If the baby is alert and active, appears healthy, has good colour and firm skin and is growing in length and head circumference
Do I have too little breast milk?
The following tips may help mothers to increase their milk production:
- Milk production follows the system of supply and demand: the more milk that is drained from the breast, the more up to the mother’s individual maximum capacity will be produced
- Mothers should increase the frequency of feeds. It will work to try to breastfeed every two hours during the day and every three hours during the night
- Mothers must check baby’s position and latch-on. Only a well-positioned and correctly latched-on baby can stimulate and drain the breast adequately
- Breastfeed at least 15 minutes per breast and offer both breasts at each feed. Once the baby’s sucking and swallowing is slowing down, mothers must remove the baby carefully from the breast and switch to the other side.
- Rest, Rest and Rest… Get enough rest. A few days of rest with the baby helps mothers to relax and breastfeed easily
- Avoid all kinds of artificial teats. Mothers can use breast pumps like Medela’s Calma to feed the baby which ensures natural feeding
- Additional pumping might be required. Mothers can consult a lactation consultant about pumping or hand expressing. High technology pumps such as Freestyle, Harmony and Swing Maxi provide mothers the comfort of pumping smoothly
What about too much breast milk?
Mothers who produce too much milk may suffer from full and engorged breasts and plugged ducts. Therefore, following are the ways mothers can reduce their milk production:
- Offer only one breast at each feed. Mothers must allow baby to breastfeed on this one side for as long as they want. To avoid engorgement in the other breast, express just enough breast milk to stay comfortable. But express only if it is necessary and only express the amount needed to feel relieved. Do not empty the breast completely.
- Apply cold compresses to the breast after feeding the baby
- Drink sage tea. Sage contains a natural form of oestrogens that can decrease your milk supply. Start with half a cup to learn how your body reacts.
- Peppermint tea has a similar effect but does not act as strongly as sage tea.
- It can take about 9 to 12 weeks for your breasts to adjust to making the right amount of milk
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