Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your newborn, but milk supply poses a challenge to many new mothers. Before you reach for the formula, there are some easy steps you can try that may solve the problem.
Breastfeeding is wonderful way to nourish and bond with your baby, but it is not always as easy as it seems. One issue that many mothers face at some point or another is a change in milk supply. This can be a scary time, but there are many options available for mothers in need of help.
If you have already been breastfeeding without problems it could just be that you and the baby are synching to become more efficient: your body is only producing what the baby needs.
Look for these signs to see if your baby is getting enough:
• Baby is feeding often — an average of 8-12 feedings in a 24 hour period is considered healthy.
• Baby’s swallowing noises are audible as he or she is breastfeeding.
• Baby is gaining weight at a steady rate.
• Baby is alert and healthy looking.
• Diapers are regularly wet and soiled.
If you, or your doctor, determine that your baby is not getting enough milk, there are some steps you can take to help your body produce what your baby needs, and to help your baby access what your body produces.
Adjust baby’s latchHold your baby close, so that his or her nose is touching your breast, and that at least ½ an inch of your breast is in the baby’s mouth. If it is painful, readjust until you find a position that works for both of you.
Eliminate pacifiers and bottlesThe sucking action in breastfeeding is also a method of comfort for your baby, and if these comfort needs are met elsewhere it could make it harder to keep your baby interested in nursing. Likewise, bottle feeding can interfere with your body’s regulation of milk supply and baby’s nursing patterns.
Change nursing patternsSome minor adjustments, such as letting your baby decide when feeding is over; offering both breasts at each feeding; and nursing more frequently can help your body with milk production.
Spend time with your babySkin to skin contact and focused effort can help stimulate milk production, and encourage babies who are less enthusiastic about feeding. Sometimes spending a weekend in bed with baby, with the focus of bonding and nursing, is all it takes to get things back on track.
If adjusting routines and eliminating road blocks does not help, there are herbs and drugs called galactagogues that may be helpful.
HerbsSome herbs, such as fenugreek, milk thistle and fennel are reputed to increase milk supply. They are available in tea form or capsules, but should be used with caution as many of these claims are unregulated.
DomperidoneDomperidone is a drug that is generally used for gastrointestinal issues, but which has the side effect of increasing production of breast milk. The FDA has not approved domperidone for breastfeeding, but it is available at Canadian pharmacies.
Whatever route you decide to go, remember to relax and take care of your own health, and to continue spending lots of close contact, nurturing time with your baby. Contact your local LaLeche League for breastfeeding support or information.
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