Breastfeeding Problems and Solutions: What to Do When Your Breasts Never Feel Full

Moreover, did you know that your breasts have the ability to respond to how much milk your baby needs? This means that, for the most part, your breasts will always make “enough milk,” contrary to the ridiculous myths that are still out there.

That said, not everyone’s experience with breastfeeding is the same and some women do encounter challenges. One of the most common is feeling like your breasts are not producing enough milk. While there are a few things that can legitimately affect your milk production, such as stress or medical conditions, more often than not, mothers are worrying that their milk supply is low, even when it isn’t.

It may be helpful to keep in mind that breast milk production is a matter of “supply and demand.” As long as your baby is gaining enough weight on breast milk alone, your milk supply is not a problem. Also, keep in mind that it is perfectly normal for a new mother’s breasts to feel less full, or even “empty,” after the first 6-12 weeks of breastfeeding. This is part of the natural adjustment that your body makes from the first days of breastfeeding.

If you are still concerned about whether you are producing enough breast milk, here are a few additional steps you can take:

Understanding Your Own Cycle of Supply and Demand

Before you start worrying about not having enough breast milk, read about the cycle of supply and demand that affects breast milk production.

Several factors impact your breast milk supply, including how often your baby is feeding, your stress level and whether you are taking certain medications. Talk to your doctor before starting a new prescription medicine, just to make sure it is safe.

How to Tell if Your Baby is Getting Enough Milk

The chances that your baby is getting what it needs are pretty high. As long as your baby is producing wet diapers (with colorless urine) and is having normal, regular bowel movements, it’s almost certain that your breast milk supply is perfectly fine, no matter how your breasts feel.

More good signs that your baby is getting plenty of breast milk are your baby gulping and swallowing during nursing, your baby is happy and peaceful after nursing, and your baby is gaining weight. It’s important to know that babies will often lose around 10% of their body weight after birth and it’ll take 2-3 weeks for them to regain it.

How to Boost Your Milk Supply

If your baby doesn’t seem to be urinating or pooping normally, or you are seeing other signs of low milk supply, there are a number of ways to boost your breast milk production:

  • Double-check the baby’s latch: If your baby doesn’t have a good latch-on to the nipple, then your baby might not be getting enough milk. In addition, it might not be stimulating your breasts to produce enough milk.
  • Breastfeed your baby on demand: Feeding your baby whenever the baby is interested in nursing can help boost breast milk supply. Also, some moms have a smaller storage capacity, so you might need to empty your breasts more frequently than others to trigger more production.
  • Don’t use formula or pacifiers. These can be a problem if your breast milk supply is low. Keep the baby focused on getting all of its nourishment from breast milk. This will tell your breasts that it’s time to produce more breast milk.
  • Try double pumping between feedings. According to research [1], pumping both breasts simultaneously can increase your milk supply by almost 20 percent.
  • Take care of yourself: Make sure you reduce stress, get plenty of sleep, eat well, and drink lots of water to ensure a healthy breast milk supply.

If your breasts don’t feel “full,” this is usually not a sign of low breast milk supply. For most breastfeeding problems related to breast milk supply, the answer is: “more breastfeeding.” Keep nursing, keep pumping, and that will keep stimulating your body to produce more milk.

Happy breastfeeding!

Sources and references

[1] These studies were conducted with Medela brand breast pumps only.  No other breast pump brands have been tested on this, therefore, the results might not be the same.

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