Am I producing enough breastmilk?
New mothers often vexed about not producing enough breastmilk for their young babies. Here's how to meet your babies' milk demands.
Wondering if you are producing enough breastmilk? Many mums think that they are not producing enough breastmilk due to a variety of reasons. Here are some of the common ones:
Often when a baby cries many mothers assume that baby is hungry and does not have enough breastmilk. Mums often forget that crying in a baby is not always due to hunger. Your baby may simply need to be held or cuddled or may be crying due to a wet diaper, or feeling hot or cold or unwell.
Many mothers also assume they are not producing enough breastmilk if their baby keeps sucking his or her fingers. This sucking is due to the rooting reflex. If you touch the baby‘s cheeks with your fingers, he/she tends to turn her mouth in that direction. This is called rooting.
You may also worry that the baby is not getting enough breastmilk if he/she feeds for a prolonged period or if he/she finishes his/her breastfeed too fast. Some babies are fast feeders; others are slow. Also, as babies grow older, they may finish the feed in a shorter time compared to the early days when they suckle for a longer period. Your baby might also be undergoing a feeding growth spurt.
Another reason why mothers think they are not producing enough breastmilk is because their breasts feel soft. Engorged breasts tend to happen only the early days of breastfeeding or if frequent suckling is not emptying the breasts. When the supply and demand of breast milk are well adjusted between the mother and the baby, the breasts will feel soft.
Mums also worry that they are not producing enough breastmilk when their breasts don’t leak milk, only leak a little, or stop leaking. However, leaking has nothing to do with your milk supply. It often stops after your milk supply has adjusted to your baby’s needs.
Mums who don't feel a let-down sensation, or for those who feel their let-down is not as strong as before, are often worried too. Unfortunately this is not a good indicator of milk supply. Some women just never feel a let-down.
Some mums worry after they notice that they get little or no milk when they pump. Unfortunately, the amount of milk that you can pump is not an accurate measure of your milk supply. If a baby has a healthy suck, he/she will suckled at your breast much more efficiently than any pump. Pumping is also an acquired skill that is different from nursing, and can be affected by the type of pump you use.
How do I know if I am producing enough breastmilk?
If you are concerned about not producing enough breastmilk, you should note the colour of your baby‘s urine and count the number of times the baby wets her diaper to determine if he/she is getting enough milk. You can also listen for the sounds of swallowing. If your baby is swallowing, then he/she is eating. And of course if your baby is gaining weight well on breastmilk alone, then you do not have a problem with milk supply.
Need Help? Don't fret!
When in doubt, please refer to a lactation consultant, who can offer you more personalised breastfeeding advice according to you and your baby's situation. If your baby is not gaining weight or is losing weight, you need to keep in close contact with his/her doctor, since it’s possible that a medical condition can cause this.
theAsianparent also has a Singapore Breastfeeding Mums Support Group that you can join for mum-to-mum breastfeeding advice.