How to establish breastmilk supply
From the time pregnancy happens we begin to worry about giving the best for our new baby on the way. Possibly you have chosen to breastfeed your newborn. Unfortunately, you might hear about many new mothers not being “able” to produce enough milk for their infants. The best way to be able to provide the most breastmilk for our infant is by getting well informed and applying the information. So the big question is…how to establish breastmilk supply? Let’s talk a little about the breastfeeding basics!
Breastfeeding does not come naturally for a new mom. Similarly, newborns are just learning how to eat with their mouths for the first time. It is very important to be aware of what a correct latch looks like. Also, know that there should not be any pain with breastfeeding, just some discomfort while the milk travels through and expands the ducts for the first time. However, if there is any kind of pain, most likely the infant might have a shallow latch. A shallow latch is when the infant is latching onto the nipple and not to the actual breast.
Having a good latch is key to stimulate the breast not only to express the milk but also to provide positive feedback to the breast when more milk is needed. This, therefore, increases production to meet the needs of the infant. Check out the following links to learn more about an adequate latch.
Inverted nipples, & breast/nipple size/shape
There may be some concerns when it comes to having different-sized breasts, inverted nipples, small or large nipples. Mother’s bodies will differ, but you will still be able to breastfeed! It helps to find the technique that is most comfortable for you and your baby. Often all of these differences will not even interfere with breastfeeding at all. Inverted nipples can be helped by using a nipple shield to help your baby latch and begin stimulation. For nipple shields, make sure you make a visit with a lactation consultant to find the nipple shield that best fits your needs and learn how to use them properly.
Breast and nipples are essentially the vehicles of transportation of breastmilk, therefore, not affecting the production at all. If you have a smaller breast, don’t worry! The main difference between breast sizes is the amount of fatty tissue in the breast, not the mammary glands, which are the ones responsible for breastmilk production. While women with smaller breasts might hold smaller portions of breastmilk and may need to pump or latch the infant more often, they are able to produce the same amount of breastmilk as moms with larger breasts.
Timing of latching or pumping
Timing is very important when it comes to stimulating breastmilk supply. It might be tempting for the new mom to want to take a few days to rest after delivery and choose to provide formula. Make sure to latch the newborn or to pump breast milk every 2-3 hours (the normal infant’s eating schedule) to continue to make the needed breastmilk. Even going out for a weekend of 2-3 days without breastfeeding can affect breastmilk supply almost immediately due to decreased stimulation. It’s all about supply & demand. Therefore, planning ahead to include time for latching or pumping will be important to maintain the production. Check out these tips for expressing breastmilk.
Oftentimes after delivery, moms find themselves skipping meals due to fatigue and adapting to a new way of life with their newborn. Forgetting to eat can drastically drop the breastmilk supply. As much as the body would like to produce more milk, the body will preserve the limited calories for healing from birth and pregnancy. If you find you have difficulty remembering to eat meals, you could try adding reminders on your phone to eat and drink water. Eating small frequent meals is another way to obtain calories consistently. If possible, ask a family member to help with prepping meals for the week.
Planning out your protein options can also help to ensure adequate nutrition while breastfeeding. Check out these 10 simple snack options!
Sleep and stress
As mentioned before, birthing & breastfeeding can be very fatiguing for new mothers! You may feel stressed over learning and keeping up with breastfeeding. It is important to be aware of your needs and attend to them. Try to take naps while the infant also takes his or her naps. Schedule a time where you can ask your significant other to bottle feed your infant while you get an extended period of sleep.
Stress can negatively impact the breastmilk supply as it interferes with the hormonal balance of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding releases oxytocin, which is a hormone that helps the new mother be relaxed and release breastmilk. Taking advantage to have a connection with the new infant will reinforce this process. Try to add enjoyable activities during your day to push stress out of your way such as watching an enjoyable show or trying some breathing techniques.
Decrease in milk supply…what to do?
In case that you notice a drop in your breastmilk supply, be sure to act as soon as you can to correct the problem. If you are unable to identify the problem, make an appointment with a lactation consultant as soon as possible or contact the Breastfeeding Hotline (1-800-833-4642) for a breastfeeding assessment. The breastfeeding hotline is available 24/7 with a lactation consultant to help you know how to establish breastmilk supply.