I THINK MY SUPPLY IS LOW
In my (honestly very limited) experience, I have come across a lot of ladies that believe their supply is low. However, upon investigation, it would appear that perhaps they are mistaking completely normal behaviour as a sign that they don’t have enough milk.
There are some rules of thumb that all mums (especially breastfeeding mums) should remember. If your baby:
• Has 6-8 wet nappies each day
• Has a dirty nappy every now and then
• Is alert and (at times) content
• Has had satisfactory weight gains
THEN THEY ARE GETTING ENOUGH MILK!
MY BABY IS ALWAYS HUNGRY IN THE EVENING. I THINK IT’S BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MILK LEFT AT THE END OF THE DAY
• It’s common for young babies to cluster feed, particularly in the evening. This is where babies have several feeds in close succession. Babies seem to get extra hungry in the evening when their circadian rhythms have developed enough for them to begin to understand that we sleep at night and are awake in the day. Your baby is likely trying to fill up with as much milk as they can possibly take in so they are able to have a good sleep – a sleep longer than their daytime naps.
• It’s been observed that a lot of babies have a fussy period each day. A lot of babies have this fussy period in the evening (you may have heard some people refer to this as a witching or arsenic hour). There are few comforts to a newborn baby beyond their mother’s breast. It’s likely that your baby wants to be at your breast because it makes them happy.
MY BABY IS TRYING TO EAT ALL THE TIME. IT MUST BE BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH MILK
• It’s normal for some babies to be hungry all the time. When I was in hospital I was told to make sure I fed my son at least once every four hours. What a joke! He wanted to eat every 1.5 – 2 hours! It wasn’t until he was about 4 months old that we were able to stretch him out to 4 hourly during the day, and even then, sometimes he STILL wanted to eat more often than that! In the early weeks, you may feel like all you do is breastfeed!
And really, why wouldn’t they be extra hungry? Look at the massive amount of growth babies go through in the early days. My son doubled his weight in the first three months of his life. That’s a lot of growing to do. And growing babies need food.
• Babies go through growth spurts. It may seem their size remains stable for several weeks, then overnight it’s like they’re suddenly a few centimetres taller! Babies instinctively know that the best way to improve our milk supply is to be at our breast more. Having your baby at your breast causes your body to produce a hormone called prolactin. Prolactin tells your body to turn sugars into breastmilk. If it feels like your baby is at your breast even more often than they have been recently, it’s highly likely they’re training your body to make even more milk because they’re going to be bigger in a few days, and will therefore need more nutrition.
WHEN I PUMP, NOTHING/VERY LITTLE COMES OUT. I MUSTN’T HAVE ANY MILK LEFT
• No pump will ever be as effective at getting your milk out as your baby. If you’ve been breastfeeding and your baby is getting enough milk, then you certainly have enough milk. Your body just may not be used to using a pump. Regardless of what any brand claims, no pump can mimic a baby’s sucking motion. Look at them, for god’s sake – they’re made of plastic and rubber! It takes time for your body to learn to let down to a pump. You probably just need practice. And relax.
• As a mum who returned to week when my baby was only 7 weeks old, I can promise you that even if you are used to pumping regularly, there may still be times where nothing comes out. You really need to be in the right headspace. If you’re pumping and nothing comes out, the best thing you can do is forget about it and try again later.
MY BREASTS DON’T FEEL AS FULL AS THEY USED TO/DON’T LEAK ANYMORE
• You may have heard that your milk supply will regulate sometime after 6 weeks, generally around 12. But what does this mean? Basically, when your baby is born and your milk comes in, your body makes as much milk as it possibly can to ensure you have enough milk for your baby. That’s why so many of us get enormous Dolly Parton boobs – our boobs are filled to capacity! A week or so later they settle down, but still get hard when it’s been a while since bub had a feed. At 6-12 weeks, your body knows how much milk your baby needs, and is so efficient that it ensures there is always enough for a good feed, without making your boobs swollen and hard.
In the early days of being a new mum, it’s easy to feel insecure and overwhelmed by everything. You’ve probably been given all sorts of horror stories about how hard breastfeeding is, so it’s completely understandable that it’s a major source of worry. But you shouldn’t worry too much! Women’s bodies have been making milk for their babies since the beginning of time. Trust your body. It knows what it’s doing.