By Pinky McKay, Lactation consultant and best-selling baby care author
Your baby is just a few days old but already every time he squawks, somebody asks, “are you sure you have enough milk?” or they say, “you’re not feeding, again?” Now you are stressed to the max wondering, ‘do I have enough milk?’ and ‘am I starving my baby?’
If you are worried about low milk supply, you aren’t alone – recent studies show that the number one reason women say they give up breastfeeding is because they don’t think they have enough milk. Often this is due to poor advice and a lack of support, rather than an actual low milk supply or problems that can’t be sorted with the right help when you need it. If you do get off to a difficult start with breastfeeding and it takes a while for our milk to ‘come in’, your situation can almost always be improved with appropriate support.
Before you reach for the bottle (of milk, that is), you might feel reassured to know that your newborn’s stomach is only the size of a marble at first and will expand to about the size of a golf-ball at about ten days. Also, breast-milk is very quickly and easily digested, so this is why your baby is hungry: not because you aren’t making enough milk, but because his tiny tummy will only hold enough milk to sustain him for short periods.
In the early weeks, it is perfectly normal for a breastfed baby to need 8 to 12 feeds in 24 hours. This could mean that he will feed as often as every two hours – and that means two hours from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next, not two hours between feeds. . It can help you to accept this frequent feeding if you see it as practice for your baby and your body: frequent feeding is important for your baby to learn to coordinate sucking swallowing and breathing and for you to establish a healthy milk supply.
If your baby is solely breastfed( no other foods or fluids are given), you can be confident that she is getting enough milk if she is gaining weight ( has regained her birth weight by 2 weeks of age and gains an average of 150 grams a week); has a growing length and head circumference; is having at least six to eight pale (dark urine is a sign of dehydration), wet (cloth) nappies (or at least five full/heavy disposable ones) every day ( scarce amounts of concentrated urine mean your baby does need more breast milk); passes a soft yellow stool at least once a day ( after the first six to eight weeks some breastfed babies will only poo every few days – as long as your baby is otherwise thriving, this is normal for a breastfed baby).
The basic rule of producing enough breast milk is to understand that the more milk you remove from your breasts, the more they will make. Babies regulate the volume and composition of your milk by their sucking and by how often they feed. As your baby sucks at your breast, he stimulates milk production. And as an empty breast makes milk more quickly than a full breast, milk production speeds up or slows down according to your baby’s hunger levels. (This is particularly important to remember when your baby has a growth spurt and wants to feed more often for a few days to keep up with his needs. Although it is fairly common for babies to have growth spurts and corresponding appetite increases at two weeks, six weeks and three months, these can happen at any time.) . Babies will also step up feeds if they are exposed to a bug –it’s as if their tiny bodies ‘know’ they need a boost of the immune protective factors in your milk.
Even in the early days, you can increase your milk supply quite quickly (within a day or two) by allowing your baby to feed whenever he shows hunger signs (rooting movements with his mouth, sucking noises or moving his hand towards his mouth as if he is trying to suck on his hand). Take it easy for a few days, offer skin-to-skin cuddles (which will help boost your breastfeeding hormones), eat nutritious foods such as on the 28 Day Diet & Exercise Plan (plus see www.boobiebikkies.com.au for the perfect cookie snack to help boost your milk) and allow unlimited access to your breasts.
If you are worried that your baby is hungry, even shortly after a feed, offer the breast again. Even if he seems to be sucking for comfort, your baby will be stimulating your breasts to make more milk. If you offer a bottle as a top-up, he is likely to go longer before his next feed or he won’t suck the whole amount of milk from your breasts and they won’t get the message to increase the supply. So, next time, you will offer another bottle, and so on, until the decreased sucking causes your milk supply to dwindle and you find your baby is weaned.
Created by Pinky McKay, Internationally Certified Lactation Consultant and best-selling baby care author, Boobie Bikkies are a natural solution to low milk supply.
Made from natural and organic ingredients traditionally prescribed after birth as an aid to breastfeeding mothers in cultures around the world and now adapted for modern mothers, Boobie Bikkies are rich in nutrients that boost mothers’ energy and encourage a healthy milk supply.
Grab your free sample and ebook at www.boobiebikkies.com.au
To download Pinky’s free ebook, Making more Mummy milk, Naturally, visit www.boobiebikkies.com.au
“Boobie bikkies are Delicious!! I’m a bit cynical, but tried one yesterday…and I’ve felt so full since” , Cassandra (Melbourne)
“Pinky, I can’t wait!!! I bought 2 bags at the Baby Show, and I want more, more, more!!! They are so great to grab one on the go!!” Kerryn (Melbourne)