Tips for Avoiding Low Milk Supply

Did you ever have that fear that you would suddenly wake up one day and not have enough milk for your baby?  There's a little person who relies solely on you for her sustenance, and you can't even see how much milk she taking in.  You just have to trust that your body has enough.

Honestly, you will NOT wake up one day and have no milk.  But, some women do struggle with making enough.   If you get a good milk supply started from the beginning and keeping breastfeeding your baby as necessary, you should have no problems.  Your body is made to feed your baby!

Tips for ensuring enough milk:

Breastfeed your baby 12 times in the first 24 hours after birth
     The current theory on breastmilk production is that it is closely related to how much stimulation the mother's nipples get in the first 24 to 48 hours after birth.  The best plan is to offer the breast every 2 hours or whenever your baby seems to want to suck, night and day.  Some babies are really sleepy and need to be woken up to breastfeed.  Undressing the baby down to a diaper and laying him or her on your bare chest can help wake a baby up.
     If you are having trouble getting your baby to latch on in the first 24 hours, use a breastpump or your hand to stimulate the nipples every 2 hours.  If you use a pump, your nipples will get good stimulation, but you may not see any milk.  This is normal.  The volume is so little in the first few days that the pump has trouble drawing it out.  The best way to express the colostrum of the first few days is through hand expression.  Watch this video on You Tube or ask your lactation consultant to show you how to hand express some drops out into a cup to feed to your baby.

Don't limit the amount of time your baby spends at the breast
    A nurse, your friend, or a family member may tell you to only allow your baby to nurse for 10 minutes per side to avoid sore nipples.  This isn't true.  Proper latch will help you avoid sore nipples.  Limiting the time your nipples are stimulated can have a negative effect on milk production and can prevent your baby from getting the nutritious fatty milk that comes out at the end of a feeding.  Tell the well-meaning person thanks for the advice, but you don't feel comfortable taking your baby from the breast before she is done.

Don't take any pseudoephedrine
     Sudafed and many other brands of nasal decongestants medications contain pseudoephedrine.  In many states, you have to get these from behind the pharmacy counter.  While pseudoephedrine is not harmful to your baby and a doctor many tell you that it is fine to take while breastfeeding, it can have a serious effect on your milk supply.  Some women experience a decrease of 20% with one dose!  Read this article on about the drugs.  Also, read the article from the beginning to see other ways to deal with your head cold that will not affect your milk supply.

Feed your baby on-demand
     Milk is made on a supply and demand basis.  Your body will make as much milk as is emptied out everyday.  Beware of feeding schedules and well-meaning advice about making your baby wait 3 hours between feedings, because this can cause your baby to take in less milk than she really needs during the day and decrease your supply.  While breastfeeding, babies only take in about 2 or 3 ounces of milk per feeding, and that milk is fully digested in about 90 minutes.

If you are having troubles with low milk supply contact a IBCLC or your local La Leche League chapter right away.