Many moms elect to breastfeed their babies.
The health benefits are clear and many women enjoy being able to provide nourishment to their babies.
That said, breastfeeding is not always a desirable, easy, or even, possible option for every mom and baby.
There are countless reasons moms struggle to successfully breastfeed their babies -health issues, work commitments, and low milk supply are issues many moms in the mom.life app note hinder their ability to breastfeed their babies.
For those who are at home struggling to adapt to nursing, low milk supply can be one of the most frustrating obstacles.
But, there is hope!
If you suspect you are suffering from low milk supply, here are some things you need to know.
Breastfeeding Challenge: The Truth About Low Milk Supply
Is Your Milk Supply Really Low
Is baby gaining weight? Does she seem healthy and happy? Is she having multiple wet and soiled diapers per day? It’s hard to actually measure how much milk your baby is getting, but if she seems to be gaining weight well, is not struggling much when she nurses, and seems happy (not continuous, inconsolable crying) then chances are your milk supply is exactly where it needs to be. If your baby seems hungry constantly, doesn’t seem to have many wet or soiled diapers, is crying consistently, or seems otherwise unwell, it is very important that you speak to your doctor about your concerns immediately.
Figuring Out the Issue
Once you’ve determined that your milk supply is truly not meeting baby’s needs, figuring out why and how to fix it is the next step. Your lactation consultant or your doctor may be able to help you get to the bottom of it.
Some women suffer from medical conditions (hormonal issues and breast problems) that may be causing the problem. Sometimes, the issue is hereditary (maybe your mom had low milk supply too?!). Unfortunately, for women facing these types of issues, the fix may not be an easy one. Your doctor can give you a good diagnosis and options for treatment.
Often, the issue has to do with lifestyle and, for those eager to make breastfeeding a success, a few changes in your routine and behavior could be your answer. In these instances, doing things like beefing up your calorie intake, nursing on demand instead of on a schedule, limiting the use of bottles and pacifiers to avoid nipple confusion, and pumping may be simple ways to help increase your milk supply.
Nursing moms, on average, need about 500 more calories per day than moms who aren’t. But calorie counting probably isn’t your best bet. Instead, follow your hunger and nourish your body with healthy foods, high in healthy fats, good proteins, and vitamins you and your baby needs.
When it comes to breastfeeding, timing is everything -particularly those struggling to maintain an adequate milk supply. Nursing on demand is a great way to help beef up your breast milk. As much as getting baby on a schedule will make your life easier, give your milk some time to come in well before you attempt to manipulate it. The more baby eats, the more milk your breasts should produce, provided other factors (improper latch, breast issues, hormonal issues, etc) aren’t getting in the way. Once baby has established a healthy relationship and routine with the breast, it’s great to start working into a schedule and supplementing feedings with pumped breastmilk from a bottle or formula.
Those who are struggling with milk supply may need to supplement with formula. Remember, this is not a failure -all fed babies are winning babies! If you find yourself in the situation where you need to supplement but desire to continue nursing, a few tricks might help you and baby keep the nursing relationship strong.
Consider giving baby a bottle before nursing instead of after. Hangry babies are not here to learn to nurse! They want food and they want it now. So start with a couple of ounces of milk in a bottle first to help take the hunger edge off enough. This way, baby is less frustrated and more willing to learn how to latch and nurse properly.
Some moms try using a feeding tube for supplementing. This tube may be slipped into baby’s mouth while baby is on the breast -ensuring she gets the nutrition needed while also still learning to nurse effectively.
No matter what anyone tells you, it’s important to remember that breastfeeding is not a requirement for a healthy baby. Breastfeeding doesn’t make you a better mom. It’s just one way some women choose to feed their babies and, if it’s not in the cards for you, that’s okay too! Your baby wants to be fed, loved, and cared for and, as long as you’re doing that, you’re winning at mom life!
If you’re struggling with nursing and want to chat with other moms about how they figured it out, download the mom.life app and meet real moms who really get it.