It is normal for first-time breastfeeding mums to feel insecure about their milk supply. After all, all we ever really want is to produce enough milk and give the best to our little ones. However, as mothers, sometimes we tend to worry too much and overthink things to the point we forget to trust our bodies to nourish our babies as nature intended.
Understanding Low Milk Supply
It is easy to feel insecure and think you’re not producing enough when you see your lean baby next to another infant, complete with Michelin tyre arms and legs. To put a stop to that kind of insecurity starts with understanding what is considered a normal supply. Know that as long as your baby grows well and soils diapers throughout the day, your body is producing enough. Whether your body will make more than what is needed is secondary because it is not measured by the stock full of expressed breastmilk you’ve accumulated in the freezer.
It is good to remind ourselves that every baby is different. Their needs are different, how much breastmilk they consume is different, and how quickly they develop is subject to each baby’s pace. Here are some of the most common low milk supply signs you shouldn’t worry about.
My baby is nursing more
Nursing more does not always indicate a low supply because, just like us, babies don’t necessarily want the same amount of milk every time. Of course, it is easy to gauge just how much they are drinking if you express and bottle-feed, but there is no way to tell for mothers who choose to direct latch; they just have to trust their bodies! It is normal for babies to feed more at certain times of day, and this can be due to several reasons. Sometimes they are hungrier than usual, or they could just be going through a growth spurt. Other days, they may just find comfort in nursing more than usual. In hindsight, nursing more is actually a good thing because that is how they tell your body to produce more milk!
My baby is waking up so frequently at night.
When babies wake up to feed, this isn’t a good indicator that your little one is not getting enough milk. It is more likely that your baby’s circadian rhythm or sleep cycle is still developing. Of course, they could be hungry too, but it isn’t because you are not producing enough. Breastmilk is very easy to digest, and mothers who have less storage space in their breasts may mean more frequent feedings. The good news for parents is that this doesn’t last forever, but expect newborns to wake up every 2 or 3 hours for food and attention in the first few months.
I don’t feel any letdown
There’s no cause for worry if you felt letdowns previously and don’t feel them now. It might just be your milk supply settling down and regulating itself. This happens around 6+ weeks. You may also notice that your breasts may not feel as full all the time, and there are fewer leaky episodes. The good news is, yay! No more engorgements.
My baby finished the whole bottle!
It might shock you to see how fast your baby finishes the milk you just expressed, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they are not getting enough. It is easy to misinterpret your baby’s need to suck as hunger. All newborns go through an oral stage of development where they suck when hungry, tired, bored, to self-soothe, you name it. The fact is, whenever you put something into any newborn’s mouth, they will naturally suck.
Shorter feeding times
There’s no cause for alarm if your baby’s feeding time shortens from time to time. As your baby grows day by day, they are slowly becoming the feeding expert. As long as they are satisfied post-feed, there’s no need to think that your body is not producing enough to nourish them.
Flustered when feeding
There are several reasons why your baby seems frustrated at the breast. It could be anything ranging from too fast/too slow letdown, ear ache, feeling under the weather or even preferring the bottle if there are other people in the family helping to co-feed. If this problem persists, speak to your doctor or a lactation consultant to narrow down the possible cause.
Pumping small amounts
Do not be discouraged if the amount of milk you pump out is not spectacular. As good a tool as the breast pump is, it still cannot compare to the latch of a baby, which can be more effective at drawing milk out. Direct latching also allows feedback from your baby’s body. When their saliva interacts with breastmilk, signals are sent to your brain so that your body will produce the kind of nutrients and antibodies your baby needs.
Red flag: Poor Infant Weight Gain and Dehydration
Consult your medical practitioner or paediatrician if your baby is losing weight or doesn’t seem to be soiling enough diapers because, in instances like these, it could mean a low supply. It is vital to learn to read the signs of dehydration in newborns, which include:
- Tearless crying
- Lethargy and sleepiness (even newborns wake up to nurse)
- Dark and concentrated urine
- Sunken fontanelle
- Sunken eyes
Get medical help immediately if your baby is dehydrated; this is considered a medical emergency. Newborns and small babies can deteriorate very quickly, so we want to get medical help as soon as possible.
Low milk supply can be frustrating
Getting professional can help to resolve some of your breastfeeding issues. Do not be afraid to bring up your concerns to your doctor or a lactation expert if you think you are facing low milk supply. Adopting a more positive outlook on the matter also plays a part in helping you to destress and feel less pressured to perform.
A great way to support milk supply is with our HAPIMOMS® Lactation Cookies, which contain six galactagogues ingredients: Fenugreek, Fennel, Flaxseed, Wheat Germ, Oats and Brewer’s yeast that can help to boost your milk supply. Nutritious and delicious, these lactation cookies are individually packed for your convenience. They come in three flavours: Mixed Berries, Choc Chip, and Brownies and if you would like to give them a try, head over to our website at http://hapifam.com/en/hapimoms/ for more information on where to buy them!