Breastfeeding

Milk Supply

Most moms produce as much breast milk as their babies need. If you aren’t making enough, there are ways you can build your supply.

Breastfeeding frequently, especially in the first hours, days, and weeks, is the main way to increase your milk supply.

 

Pregnancy: It is important to begin learning about breastfeeding before baby arrives.

  • Talk to your health care provider and WIC staff during pregnancy about:
    • Your breastfeeding questions and concerns.
    • Breastfeeding benefits and the risks of not breastfeeding.
  • Attend breastfeeding classes at your WIC clinic or hospital to learn more about:
    • Positions for holding baby at the breast.
    • Identifying a good latch.
    • Recognizing infant feeding cues.
    • Expressing and storing breast milk.
  • Find support. Tell those important to you that you are going to breastfeed:
    • Family and friends
    • Health care provider and hospital staff
    • WIC clinic staff
    • Employer
    • Childcare or other caregivers

 

After delivery: The early days of breastfeeding set the stage for success.

  • Breastfeed within the first hour after baby is born.
  • Feed only breastmilk to your baby. Ask others not to give your baby water, sugar water or formula, unless for a health reason.
  • Hold your baby skin to skin as much as you can.
  • Keep baby in your room day and night. Remain together as much as possible.
  • Do not give bottles or pacifiers until breastfeeding is going well, usually at about 1 month of age.
  • Follow baby’s cues for feeding. It’s best not to put your baby on a strict feeding schedule.
  • Feed baby 8-12 times in a 24-hour period.
  • Reach out for help with questions or concerns. Contact your support network—your WIC clinic, health care provider, or lactation consultant.

 

The first month and beyond: Focus on lots of breastfeeding practice and bonding with your baby.

  • Continue to let your baby tell you when it’s time to eat. Most breastfed babies still don’t follow a strict feeding schedule.
  • Make sure milk is removed from the breasts 8-12x/day.
  • Keep practicing latch and positioning at the breast.
  • Weight gain, tracking wet and poopy diapers, and baby’s behavior are good ways to tell if baby is getting enough to eat.
  • Start planning ahead if you’re going to be away from baby for long periods of time like for work or school.
  • Attend breastfeeding and new mom support groups for a great source of comfort and encouragement.
  • Contact your support network with concerns or questions about breastfeeding.

Breast milk production is based on “supply and demand”. The more milk baby demands by eating at the breast, the more supply (more milk) your breasts will make.

 

Latching your baby to your breast every time she is showing signs of hunger is the best way to make the perfect amount of milk to meet your baby’s needs.

 

In general, most moms make enough milk to meet their baby’s needs, however some moms do struggle with milk supply and may need to take extra steps to increase their supply.

 

Tips for Increasing Milk Supply

 

Empty breasts frequently and completely

  • Ensure an effective latch and milk transfer. A painful or poor latch usually results in milk not being completely removed from the breast, causing a drop in supply.
  • Breastfeed more often, at least 8 or more times per 24 hours.
  • Offer both breasts at each feeding. Go back to the first breast if baby is still hungry after eating at both.
  • Avoid pacifier and bottle use.
  • Make sure baby is completely emptying your breasts at each feeding by not setting time limits for feedings.
  • Help empty your breasts by using massage and compression on your breasts while baby is feeding.
  • Use hand expression after baby is done feeding to ensure breasts are fully emptied.
  • Switch nurse. Switch sides 2-3 times during each feeding, every time baby falls asleep, or when her sucking slows. Use each side at least twice per feeding.
  • Take a “nursing vacation”. Spend 2-3 days just relaxing with your baby while doing as much skin to skin and breastfeeding as you can.

 

Keep Mom healthy

  • Reduce stress, ask for help with housework and other activities.
  • Rest and relax—take warm baths, meditate, or ask for a back rub.
  • Stay hydrated—drink to thirst.
  • Eat simple, well-balanced meals and snacks.
  • Avoid things that can decrease supply like smoking, some forms of birth control, decongestants, and antihistamine medicines.

 

Consider using a breast pump

  • Pump after or between feedings to remove more milk from the breast and increase how often the breast is emptied.
  • Try power-pumping. Pump for 10 minutes on, then 10 minutes off for an hour. Or pump for 15 minutes of every hour for a day.
  • Use your hands to massage your breasts before and during pumping.
  • Ensure breast shield/flange is appropriate for breast and nipple size, and that the pump and all pump parts are in working order.

Oversupply is when you make TOO much breastmilk. While this sounds like a good thing, it can cause issues for mom and baby. 

 

Oversupply can be uncomfortable for mom and can lead to recurrent plugged ducts and mastitis. This can sometimes lead to a strong, fast let down (when the milk starts to flow) and sometimes baby can struggle to cope with the strong, fast flow of milk. 

 

Signs of oversupply 

  • Very quick weight gain in baby (much more than 2 pounds per month). 
  • Baby choking, sputtering, gasping, or coughing while breastfeeding as though the milk is coming too fast. 
  • Pulling off the breast often while nursing. 
  • Baby spitting up often and/or very gassy. 
  • Breasts feel very full and uncomfortable often (even after feedings or between feedings). 
  • Breasts leak a lot including during and between feedings. 

 

Helping your baby deal with fast milk flow 

  • Try laid-back position (mom leaning back and baby laying on top of mom face down, tummy to tummy with mom). 
  • Unlatch baby during strong let down (catching milk in cloth or towel), then relatching after milk flow slows a bit. 
  • Pump or hand express through the first strongest let down, then latch baby. 
  • Burp baby frequently if he is swallowing a lot of air. 

 

If you are concerned that you have oversupply 

  • Connect with WIC to talk with a breastfeeding expert if you think you have oversupply. We can discuss the situation and help you.
  • Avoid trying to decrease milk supply in the first 3-6 weeks. Connect with a lactation consultant if you are struggling with oversupply in the first weeks of breastfeeding. 
  • Breastfeed baby on cue (put baby to breast to nurse anytime he shows hunger cues). 
  • The more milk that you remove from your breasts, the more milk you will make. Limit extra pumping or hand expression (that are in addition to baby’s feedings). It’s ok to pump or hand express if you are missing your baby’s usual feeding. 
  • Consider offering one breast per feeding for a 3-hour period. If the other breast becomes uncomfortably full during the 3 hours, breastfeed or hand express a small amount (just enough to be comfortable). 
  • Connect with a lactation consultant for more ideas to decrease your milk supply. 

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