Do I have enough milk for my baby?

Your baby seems hungry and you think you are not producing enough milk? Here are some tips to help you determine if that is really the case and if so, how to find a solution.

Your baby seems irritated during feedings, they want to nurse more often and you are starting to wonder if you are producing enough milk to meet their needs. Although most women do have enough milk to feed their babies, there might still be a problem that makes your child frustrated during feedings, including not producing enough milk. But how do you know if that’s your case?

Good milk production
  • During the first week of life, your baby should wet at least one diaper a day. After that, it should be at least six wet diapers a day.
  • From their fifth day of life, their stools should be yellow and soft.
  • Your baby should be alert, wake-up by themselves for feedings and show signs of satiety after feedings.
  • They should return to their birth weight between the 10th and 14th day of life.
  • Your breasts should be fuller before nursing than after.
It’s important to know that even if your baby doesn’t seem to be absorbing enough milk, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not producing enough milk. The problem could be related to various factors like a bad position during feedings or a growth spurt. To make sure, you can consult a health care professional or contact a breast-feeding coach.
How to increase your milk production

There are several ways to increase milk production; some are natural while others are medical. It’s always better to try to natural approach first and to only use medicines if nothing else works.

The natural approach
  • If your baby is younger than six months old and is nursing less than 8 to 12 times a day, increase the number of feedings over a period of a few days. Breastfeed every hour and a half to two hours during the day and every three hours at night, which will help boost your production.
  • Offer both breasts at all feedings.
  • Avoid giving supplements that will satisfy their need to suckle like a pacifier or the bottle.
  • Use a good breast pump to collect your milk between feedings.
  • During feedings, place your baby skin to skin to stimulate the hormones that influence milk production.
  • When your baby is nursing, do breast compressions for 5 seconds to make your milk flow quicker.
Although some believe that there are some magic foods that can increase milk production, these are myths as there is no scientific proof linking these foods or beverages to milk production.
Natural products

Some natural products are known to help with milk production. If everything else you’ve tried has failed, you can discuss with your doctor or breast-feeding coach about these options so they can recommend a product or a combination of products that could help you.

List of natural products
  • Fenugreek: Fenugreek is often found in Indian and Mediterranean dishes, but the seeds are also known to improve milk production. You can find it in the form of pills, teas or tinctures.
  • Blessed Thistle: Despite the fact that there is not scientific data establishing a link between blessed thistle and milk production, many women have used it in conjunction with fenugreek with great success. You can also find it in pills, teas or tinctures.
  • Brewer’s yeast: Brewer’s yeast increases the levels of the prolactin hormone, which is responsible for milk production. It’s found in the form of capsules or you can also drink a glass of alcohol-free beer per day.
  • Fennel: Studies suggest that fennel produces an effect on the body that is similar to estrogen, which helps increase milk production. You can drink an infusion of fennel a day by simply pouring the seeds in boiling water.
  • Lecithin: This dietary supplement decreases the viscosity of milk and increases polyunsaturated fat levels, which reduces the risk of developing blocked milk ducts, which will reduce the amount of milk that comes out.
The medical approach

Once all natural causes have been eliminated, and when nothing seems to have had a positive effect, your doctor may decide to prescribe you some domperidone, a drug that was originally prescribed to relieve gastrointestinal problems, but which one of the side effects is increasing milk production by stimulating the production of the prolactin hormone.

When nothing is working

Whether you are in the process of increasing your milk production or if you have tried everything without success, you might be concerned that your baby is not getting all the nutrition their body needs to develop properly. There are some ways you can supplement breastfeeding to ensure your baby gets what they need by using the milk you pumped to feed them using a cup, dropper, syringe or soon. Talk with your doctor or nursing coach so they can guide you on the best approach for you and your baby.

Image de Mariem Melainine

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