Are You Worried You’re Not Producing Enough Milk? Here Is a Guide On How To Increase Breast Milk Supply
While thinking that you are not producing enough breast milk may be quite worrying for new mothers, it is important to note that this is not necessarily uncommon. There are a number of women who experience low milk supply, especially in the early weeks postpartum.
If you are overly concerned, then it would always be a good idea to consult a Board Certified Lactation Consultant to put your mind at ease. However, there are a number of different things that you can do to help improve the supply of milk.
In this article, we will give you some valuable advice on how to increase the production of breast milk while breastfeeding.
What Causes Low Breast Milk Production
There are a number of different things that can lower the production of breast milk in breastfeeding women. From health conditions to things you may not even realise could be affecting your milk production, there are many things that could be the cause of low breast milk production.
These some of the causes:
Supplementing With Formula - After you have given birth, your breasts work on a supply and demand basis. This, therefore, means that supplementing with formula by bottle-feeding and not exclusively breastfeeding tells your body that it does not need to produce as much breast milk. This will therefore mean that your milk supply will be relatively low.
Health Issues - Having a history of things such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, diabetes, thyroid or other hormonal disorders can all have an effect on your breast milk supply. Certain studies have found that Mums who suffer from these conditions could be more likely to experience low breastmilk supply.
Excessive Blood Loss During Birth - Women who experienced blood loss of over 500 ml during birth or retained fragments of the placenta could see a delay in their milk coming in. This could mean that for a short period of time, they have a very low breastmilk supply
How Does The Production Of Breastmilk Work?
When your breastfed baby suckles, a message is transported to the brain to signal hormones such as prolactin, and oxytocin. The prolactin hormone then causes the alveoli to begin the process of making milk. The oxytocin hormone then causes the muscles around the alveoli to start squeezing out the milk through the milk ducts.
Once you have given birth and your milk transitions, they work on the basis of supply and demand. This means the more milk that is removed, either by breastfeeding or expressing, the more milk the breasts will produce. This also means that how your baby nurses, directly impacts the production of breast milk. The more effective your baby feeds, the greater your milk supply will be.
However, if you are substituting with formula then your breasts will produce less milk than they would if you were exclusively breastfeeding. This is because they are not being used enough to stimulate a greater supply.
Signs Your Baby Is Not Getting Enough Milk
These are the signs that you should look out for to tell whether or not your baby is getting enough milk. If you believe that your baby’s need for milk is not being met and you can see the signs listed below, then please take your baby to your doctor to give you some peace of mind. The signs to look out for are:
Baby‘s Weight Is Not Increasing - If a baby loses between 5-7% of their body weight in the first few days after birth, do not worry, this is normal. They should then start to gain back weight every day until they're back up to their birth weight by day 14. If you do not see any weight gain from your baby then please seek immediate medical advice.
Baby's Urine Is Not Pale - This could be because your baby is dehydrated as it has not received the nutrients it needs through feeding. If your baby is experiencing signs of dehydration then please seek medical advice urgently
How To Increase Breastmilk Supply
If you are experiencing a low supply of breast milk, do not threaten, you are not alone. As scary and worrying as it can seem, there are a number of different, very effective, ways that you can help to increase milk production. These ways are:
Increase Breast Stimulation By Expressing Milk
As the supply of breast milk works on a supply and demand basis, stimulating your breast through expressing milk in pumping sessions can be a brilliant way to increase milk supply. Expressing your milk around 1-2 hours after feeding will not only help to stimulate greater supply but it will also help to drain the breasts. This once again helps with the consistency of your milk supply. This is because every time milk is removed from your breasts, they make more.
You can express milk both manually and by using breast pumps. Expressing milk, especially in the early days of breastfeeding, can be a very effective way of increasing the stimulation of the breasts. The more stimulation the breasts have, the more milk they will supply and the greater feed your baby will receive.
In addition to this, the more drained your breast gets from feeding or from expressing, the more milk it will be able to supply. This means that combining regular feeding with expressing will help to ensure that the supply of milk is much greater.
Ensure Your Baby Is Actively Feeding At The Breast
When your baby is actively feeding at your breast, you want your breasts to be drained as much as possible. If your baby is having a deep suck and swallowing after every couple of sucks, then this is perfect. However, if your baby is doing very light sucks with very little swallowing, then they are not actively feeding.
Slight breast compressions or switching breasts could be a way to keep them feeding for longer. When compressing the breast, with one hand support your breast with your thumb on one side of the breast and your fingers on the other. When your baby’s swallowing begins to stop, gently compress the breast to increase milk flow
If this does not work, then there are other things you can try. As you want to drain your breasts as much as possible, it could be worth stopping the feed and then using a breast pump to increase the amount of milk drained from your breasts. This will therefore allow for a greater amount of milk supply.
If you struggle with the attachment of your baby then the baby will most likely not get enough milk and could be very uncomfortable and painful for you. If you experience squashed nipples, skin damage and constant pain after feeds then this is probably due to shallow attachment.
The attachment of your baby is incredibly important as it will determine how much milk they are able to get and therefore how much milk you can drain from your breasts. If the attachment is not great and you are not drinking much milk, then you will struggle to increase your milk supply.
If you are struggling to get a good latch then it is advisable to enquire about face-to-face help with a lactation consultant. This help will allow both you and your baby to feel more comfortable when feeding and allow your milk supply to increase.
High-Quality Hands-Free Breast Pumps At Pippeta
Here at Pippeta, we want to make Mothers' lives as easy and as stress-free as possible. That is why we have designed and manufactured the highest quality hands-free breast pumps on the market. These pumps give you two free hands to be able to do what you want, whether that be cuddling your child or any other day-to-day tasks.