Milk Supply While Breastfeeding
How Much Milk Is Enough?


milk supply nursing

Breastfeeding Milk Supplies


Should I Worry About My Milk Supply?
Chart: Milk Supply
How Do I Know If My Baby Is Getting Enough Milk?
Chart: Diaper Use
How Can I Increase My Milk Supply?

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Breastfeeding Guide

Baby's Stomach Size:

Hazelnut: Day 1 after birth:
Walnut: Day 7 after birth:

Should I Worry About My Milk Supply?

Most nursing moms become concerned at some point that because they cannot measure how much milk their baby is getting, they may be underfeeding. In the vast majority of cases, there really is no need for worry - nature knows what it is doing! Breastfeeding works through a tightly controlled coordinated feedback system which decreases or increases according to the baby's needs. The more the baby suckles, the more the milk is produced. This is why a baby will want to suckle every hour during a growth spurt, but will then soon settle to less frequent feedings once milk supply has been boosted. It is also why feeding on 'demand' is encouraged by some experts. If you are still worried, monitoring your baby's weight and diaper use should ally any fears. If your baby is wetting at least 6 to 8 diapers a day and your pediatrician is satisfied by his weight gain there is no cause for concern.

Milk Supply In The First Few Weeks

When Milk Baby Mom
Baby is born. Your breasts produce colostrum (a rich, thick, yellowish milk) in small amounts. Colostrum is full of antibodies, vitamin A, minerals and nitrogen. Traditionally hospitals used to supplement this 'pre-milk' with bottle formula, but this practice is now largely frowned on. Not only is colostrum sufficient for the baby's needs, but bottle feeding at this point would only interfere with the baby's willingness to learn how to suckle from the nipple. Likely to be awake in the first hour after birth and be ready for his first feed. You will be exhausted but excited.
First 12-24 hours In the first 24 hours newborns drink about 1 teaspoon of colostrum at each feeding. You may not see the colostrum, but it is there and in the right amount. Generally you only need to nurse 3 to 5 minutes on each breast. This is long enough to stimulate milk production but short enough to save you from breastfeeding problems like sore nipples. Another alternative is to feed as long as possible and as often as possible, this can help prevent engorged breasts. The baby will probably sleep heavily. Being born is hard work. Many newborns are too sleepy to latch well at first. Feedings will probably be disorganized. When the baby wakes up, take advantage of their immediate instinct which is to suckle. You will be exhausted, so take plenty of rest and keep visitors to a minimum.
Days 3 to 5 White milk starts to appear. The method of delivery (vaginal or c-section birth) makes no difference to this timing. When the baby suckles it triggers the release of a hormone in mom's body (called prolactin) to stimulate the milk glands into production. It is normal for the milk to have a yellow or golden tint first. If you have not started by day 5, talk a lactation consultant or doctor. Baby will be feeding at least 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period. Feeding can take 15 to 20 minutes on each breast, so you may feel like it's a never ending cycle. When one feeding is over, it's almost time to start again! If you had a c-section you may need to continue pain medications for a few days after delivery. Although some medication will pass into your milk, it is not considered harmful for the baby. You may need to vary your breastfeeding positions until you find one that is comfortable. The football hold may be easier while still in c-section recovery phase. Your breasts will feel full of milk and may start to leak. You can use breast pads to help protect your clothes from leaks.
Weeks 4 to 6. Mature milk continues to flow. The baby's stomach will have grown and is now able to hold more milk. Feedings may take less time and will be further apart. Your breasts become softer and the leaking slows down.

How Do I Know If My Baby Is Getting Enough Milk?

Most babies lose a small amount of weight after birth, before they start to gain it again. Your doctor will weigh the baby within 3 to 5 days of delivery and again in another 2 to 3 weeks. You can tell if your child is getting enough milk because they will steadily gain about 2/3 to 1 ounce a day for the first 3 weeks. Other signs:
• He increasingly has more urine and bowel movements (see chart below).
• He switches regularly between periods of alertness and sleep.
• He appears happy after feedings.
• Your breasts feel softer after each feed.

Diaper Chart

Baby's age in days No. of wet diapers No. of bowel movements Color/texture of feces
1 1 First within 8 hours of birth. Thick, black and tarry.
2 2 3 Thick, black and tarry.
3 5 to 6 3 Green to yellow and looser (color can vary).
4 6 3 Soft, watery and yellow.
5 6 3 Yellow, loose and seedy.
6 6 3 Yellow, loose and seedy.
7 6 3 Yellow, loose and seedy but in larger amounts.

How Can I Increase My Milk Supply?

When some mothers observe normal changes in milk supply they assume their production level has slowed down and panic. In most instances it is a false alarm, and is only part of the normal process. For example when the baby is aged between 6 and 8 weeks the mother's body has learned how much milk to make. Around this time her breasts may not feel as full as they were and the baby may not be feeding for as long as he used to. This is not a sign of decreased milk supply. It simply means both have become more efficient at breastfeeding. Another false alarm is where the baby has a growth spurt and wants to feed longer than normal. This can occur around weeks 2-3, week 6 and week 12. Follow your baby's lead - allowing him to suckle more will temporarily boost milk production to meet the demand. If you have ruled out these false alarms and your baby is not gaining weight, or not as well as he should, talk to your doctor. The solution may be something simple as changing breast feeding positions. The following tips may also be helpful:
• Allow your baby to feed as frequently and as long as he wants.
• Feed with both breasts. Once the baby slows down or stops with one breast, move him to the other. Finish the first breast first is a good rule as it will help prevent problems like blocked milk ducts.
• The baby should finish the feeding, usually by falling asleep.
• Check your latch position. He lips should be on the areola (darker skin area). Read, how to breastfeed for more details.
• Limit pacifier use to encourage better nursing. Sucking should be reserved for the breast.
• Contact your local La Leche League Breastfeeding leader for support and more information.

  Related Articles on Breast Feeding

For more tips, see the following:

Benefits of breastfeeding: Pros discussed.
Disadvantages of breastfeeding: Cons to consider.

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