"Am I Making Enough Breast Milk?"
A lactation consultant gives the answer and explains how moms can increase their supply
"Am I making enough milk?"
Often, moms perceive that they do not make enough milk because they do not make “extra” milk.
Other times they think the baby is eating too often, or the breasts feel too soft, or the baby is fussy at certain times of the day, or they are unable to pump much milk.
Many complain they do not leak, that their baby nurses quicker than he or she once did, or that they are unable to feel a letdown.
Reality is, that none of these things mean that a mom has inadequate supply.
As the virtual lacation consult at Cook Children's, I ask questions like:
- Is the baby is growing?
- Are they having plentiful output (poops and urine diapers) each day?
- Are they waking often to feed and seeming satisfied after?
Since breastmilk is easily digested, breastfed babies may eat more often than bottlefed babies at somewhere between 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. The baby will be described as alert and active, and seems satisfied after feedings; often times with relaxed hands. Mom will also report hearing swallows during the feed.
The greatest indicator of sufficient milk intake is weight gain, though an initial loss is normal and expected as they shed the extra fluid in their tissues. Once the milk supply is in, we expect most babies to gain close to an ounce per day. After 3-4 months, the number will gradually slow down.
Another reliable indicator is output. By day 6 we expect to have 6 pale and mild smelling wet diapers and >4 bowel movements that have transitioned to the yellow, mustard, seedy stools. Over time, the number of stools will fluctuate and breastfed babies may go many days without a BM as their body is absorbing all of the nutrients. Even then, we expect soft and profuse stools.
The older the baby gets, the more adequate they feed, therefor spend less time at the breast and since many mothers do not feel their letdowns, that nor the firmness of the breast tell us how well the infant is being fed.
The answer to this question is: more.
More feeds. More often.
More milk. More emptying the breasts.
Remembering that our bodies work off supply and demand, so in this case, more is more.
Limit pacifiers, use both breasts per feed, and make sure to empty both breasts with each feed, even if it means switching sides multiple times throughout the feed to keep the baby stimulated and awake.
Pumping after feeds will also “trick the body” into thinking that the baby is wanting more and can often help increase supply.
If these things do not seem like enough, a visit with a lactation consultant would be beneficial to you and your child.
Virtual Lacation Consultation Program
Connect to an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBLC) from the comfort of your own home. When caring for a newborn, it is important to have support for successful breastfeeding and nutrition. Cook Children's now offers that to you and your baby when and where you need it: in the comfort of your home. Click here to learn more about the program.
Consultation topics include:
- Correct latching
- Milk supply
- Feeding schedules
- Pump options and supplies
- Pumping routines/schedules
- Return to work planning
- Nutrition and skin care
- Newborn positioning
- Milk storage
- Pain or possible infection
Through her own children and the thousands of moms that she has helped over the years, Holly found a special interest in infants and breastfeeding. In 2015, she became internationally board certified as a lactation consultant and now works as an IBCLC virtually through the Cook Children's telemedicine department.