Breastfeeding is a natural process. Baby has natural feeding reflex & just like that, moms too secrete milk naturally. But, many new moms get stressed out questioning milk sufficiency!! To come out of this, you need to understand the basics of breastmilk secretions.
Colostrum is the first milk(rich in antibodies & beta-carotenes) secreted for the baby to fight against diseases. Colostrum is said to be the child’s first immunization. Many moms tend to give formula for first 2 to 3 days saying that milk production has not yet started. You know, Colostrum production will begin in second trimester of your pregnancy. Once the baby is born, for the first 3 days, you will get only 1 or 2 tablespoons of Colostrum in a day. But that small amount is enough for the tiny tummy. Colostrum is high in protein and less in fat, making it easily digestible by babies and no Formula can replace this precious first milk. Though it is just few drops, let your baby suckle the healthy Colostrum that helps in protecting the baby. As the baby suckles, the supply of breastmilk will increase gradually. Breastfeed often to increase the supply.
Breastmilk is produced on demand of your baby’s need. The more you breastfeed, the milk supply will be more. Don’t think that your baby will be starving until your body understands your baby’s demand. It is a natural process and baby will get enough milk for sure. A healthy balanced diet & a stress-free mind is all you need for ample breastmilk production. Milk production is induced/increased by hormones which secrete when you feel your love for the baby. So, avoid watching TV/mobile/books or any form of distraction while breastfeeding. Just think about the baby, look at the baby, hug the baby, kiss the baby, pat the baby & just feel the love for baby for more milk production..
Initially, there may be problems in drinking the secreted milk like tongue-tie(for some babies), inverted or short nipples(for some moms). All these problems have solutions. Tongue-tie problem can be addressed by your Pediatrician. For inverted or short nipples, seek help from your Gynecologist or a good Lactation consultant can also help you. I had short nipples problem and suffered a lot including bleeding nipples. But, I overcome it and successfully breastfed my babies(exclusively for 6 months & continued till 2 years).
Some tips from my experience,
- If you have inverted/short nipples & if the baby finds difficult in latching,
- Use silicon nipple shields before the nipples get cracked or wounded. Nipple shield on a cracked nipple will be more painful.
- Use “Nipple puller” every time before feeding. Just pull the nipple thrice & then start feeding with or without nipple shield. Do not use syringe method as it will be more painful & might damage the nipples.
- Make sure if the baby latches properly.. Just suckling on the nipple is not a good latch.. Baby should hold nipple, areola & breast..
- When you are in the hospital, try to learn about proper feeding position & latching with the help of your Gynecologist & nurses. In Coimbatore KMCH hospital, the nurses team are well trained on this. I am sure every hospital will have a good Lactation consultant, these days. Learn from them, before you get discharged from the hospital.
- Don’t lean forward to feed as that leaning will put pressure on your nipples and your back. Leaning forward will crack the nipples sooner. Always, sit straight and bring the baby towards the breast. You don’t lean down to reach the baby.
- Use a good feeding pillow which will be so comfortable. But, you have to hold the baby(especially the upper part) & the pillow is just for support.
- If you are sitting in a chair to feed, have a small step stool for resting your legs.
- Watching many Youtube videos on latching might stress you as the ladies in the videos will have long nipples & you might end up in depression. Seeking one-on-one help will be effective. Your gynecologist might help you.
- If you have latching problem, don’t panic.. Don’t go for formula milk.. U can very easily hand express your breastmilk to a bowl & feed it to the baby with a spoon or sangu or just with a small, blunt-edged bowl..Don’t use feeding bottle.. If the baby easily drinks in bottle, baby will never try to suckle hard from u.. If you can’t afford a pumping machine, just massage the breasts with hand & squeeze. Still, every time, allow the hungry baby to suckle on both breasts.. After that, squeeze & feed.. Baby will latch sooner, don’t worry.. I used silicon nipple shield to train my baby to latch.. With shield for 5 mins, then without shield for 5 mins.. In all these process, don’t stress out as it will reduce milk supply.. Nilaa(my first baby) got the correct latch on 19th day & Natchathira(my second one) got the correct latch on her second month !! Just keep trying & it will sure succeed..
- If you are comfortable with pumping machines, just go for it as that too act as nipple puller & pull the nipples out in each pumping. But, make sure to try latching the baby directly to suckle before pumping milk or at least before offering pumped milk. Remember that Pumping machines are temporary and your aim should be in making baby to latch directly.
- When I had blocked ducts leading to breast engorgement, everyone suggested hot packs, but that didn’t work for me.. One nurse suggested cold pack & that really worked well.. Just froze some water in a tiffin box & massaged it over the breasts, which let down all the blocked milk & relieved me from engorgement, the stinging painful breasts !! For the second baby, I used handy cold packs available in Pharmacy. But, don’t try to express more milk as it will start secreting more and worsen the situation. Just express some and then make the baby to suckle.
- If u have sore or cracked nipples & feed with pain, milk supply won’t be good.. So, first heal the wound. When your nipple is cracked, you might bleed when feeding. But, my doctor told that there is no harm in baby drinking bloody milk. In such case, try to express milk and feed, so that wound will heal faster.
- Zytee ointment(generally used for mouth ulcers) healed my nipple wounds faster.. Ask ur doctor for one such ointment.. Nipcare ointment also worked fine for me.
- Cooking coconut oil(not hair oil) also heals the wound better. Apply coconut oil after each feed.
- Hindmilk (the last breastmilk that comes out at the end of a feed) also works good as it is rich in antibodies.. Also, it is very handy. After each feed, squeeze little breastmilk & just apply it over the nipple and areola. Let it air dry for 5 mins.
- You can use either apply ointment or coconut oil or breastmilk after each feed, whichever is feasible. In daytime, I apply ointment. Coconut oil in the evenings and breastmilk in the nights. Applying all 3(not together) alternatively(any one after each feed) will heal the wound faster, from my experience.
- When you apply ointment or coconut oil, do have a cotton cloth over each nipple so that it stays in it for longer time and also doesn’t stain the bracier. Change the cloth after each use. Wipe the nipples and areola well with wet(slightly warm water) cloth before each feed.
- Nipples will be too sensitive(even dress or baby’s touch might hurt a sensitive nipple) in the initial months of breastfeeding. Applying breastmilk(read the above point) after each feed is good to maintain the nipple health.
- If you want to detach the latch, do not forcefully pull off your breast or baby’s mouth as both will cause severe damages to your nipples. Gently insert your little finger into the corner of baby’s mouth(between the gums) and slightly turn the finger in the action of pulling it towards your breast. This will break the latch easily without causing any pain or damage to the nipple.
I know how painful this nipple problem is ! I had this issue with both my babies. But, believe me, this is temporary. If you strive to overcome this, life will be so easy. Don’t lose heart and opt for bottle feeding. Bottle feeding is much stressful, than you think. You and baby can be more comfortable with breastfeeding, once the problem is corrected.
If you had nipple problem for your first baby, you might have the same problem with the second baby as well. As my first baby was breastfed for 2 years, I never imagined that I would face the same problem again for my second one ! But it happened & I was able to handle it far better than the first one..
👉Massage the nipples & areola with castor oil daily while bathing from the 1st month of pregnancy(Not after delivery). Try to gently pull out the nipples daily..
👉If your nipple is too small & doesn’t seem to protrude out, use nipple puller during pregnancy daily once or twice to pull it out.. Caution : Nipple pulling might induce early labor if you pull more times in a day.
Having said that, feeding often will increase the milk supply, it doesn’t mean that continuous feeding for hours will increase the supply. One of my reader told that she fed the baby for continuous 2 to 3 hours to increase milk supply. This is just insane. Do not feed for more than 20 minutes in a breast as milk will stop flowing after 20 mins. It needs at least half an hour(minimum) to 2 hours(ideal) gap for a breast to initiate next let down. For the first 2 months, you might seem feeding round the clock, but the gap will be more going forward. Just breastfeed when baby demands.
Do not switch between breasts in the same feed. First offer one breast and let the baby finish it off completely. If the baby demands more, then offer the next breast. Else, you shall offer the next breast in the next feed. Just remember which breast to offer next. This way, baby gets the hindmilk(that baby gets at the end of a feed), which is rich in fat needed for baby’s growth and weight gain. Foremilk is the first milk that is available when baby starts feeding. Foremilk is thin and has less fat. So, our aim is to make the thick hindmilk available to the baby. This can be achieved by suckling on the same breast until it is completely emptied. Hindmilk satisfies the hunger of a baby & lets the baby sleep longer.
Don’t have favorite breast to offer first at every feed. Though your baby might have favorite breast, you try to give importance to both breasts and offer alternatively to maintain good supply in both breasts. Some babies reject a breast aggressively, always wanting the favorite breast. In such case, in every feed, offer the unfavored breast first as the baby will suckle atleast for few mins in hunger & then start to reject. Also, try to express milk from the unfavored breast & feed it to the baby. These techniques will maintain the milk supply in that breast and also, sooner baby will start drinking from both breasts, forgetting favoritism. These techniques worked well for both my babies.
Breast size doesn’t impact the amount of milk production. Women with small size breast can produce equal amount of milk as that of women with larger breast size. Likewise, breast weight or heaviness in breasts doesn’t determine the amount of milk in the breast. Some moms lift the breast & if it weighs less, they just conclude that there is no or less milk in the breast. During initial months when you are feeding often, breast won’t be heavier at all times. Still, whenever baby suckles, baby will get the required milk. Many times, the let down(that brings the milk from all the milk ducts) begins only after suckling for few mins. Breast is not a milk packet to store milk at all time. So, just don’t go with the weight. When the gap between feeds is increased, the breast might appear heavier. Also, the most suckled breast might appear heavier than the least-suckled one. Don’t explore too much about it. Just be confident that your body will secrete the milk required for your baby. That’s it !
If your baby cries often, people around you will torture that milk is not enough.. Never hear them.. Relax & feed with love.. Suckling is a natural reflex that every baby has. Even when the baby is full, if you bring the baby near the breast, baby will try to suckle. That doesn’t mean that baby is hungry. Baby’s cry on the breast is for soothing & not for hunger. When baby wakes up often at night, ppl around will conclude that milk is insufficient and poor baby gets up in hunger. Mom feels depressed that the baby is starving for milk & thus has disturbed sleep. But this is not true. When baby wakes up, baby will always seek for a latch, both for soothing & to go back to sleep. There are some babies who sleep for a whole stretch of 8 hours. But, most of the babies will seek for breastfeeding every 2 to 3 hours in the night, which is very common.
Also, babies cry for various reasons. Many babies have colic problems(Click here to read more about Colic – Symptoms, tips & solutions). There may be various reasons for a baby’s cry other than breastmilk. Discuss with your Pediatrician.
Poop/stool is not associated with insufficient breastmilk. In many cases, a well breastfed baby might poop once in a week. Mom’s diet plays a major role in baby’s poop. If mom takes curd and greens in alternate days, this will improve baby’s pooping pattern. Also, mom needs to drink plenty of water and stay properly hydrated.
Pee count is directly proportional to the intake of breastmilk. If a baby pees(urinates) for at least 8 times in a day, then the baby is hydrated well & the baby gets enough breastmilk. Also, baby’s weight gain can give you the clear picture. Just after birth, baby will lose the birth weight and then will have to come back to birth weight in 10 days or at least in 2 weeks. The baby gains 30+ grams every day(approximately 1 kg in a month) upto 3 months. Then weight gain will be moderate compared to the last 3 months. These are the pointers my Pediatricians told me. You talk about your baby’s weight with your Pediatrician. Pee count & weight gain should give you the confidence that you are sufficiently breastfeeding your baby.
Breastmilk is considered as “Liquid gold”, the best asset that you can gift your baby for a healthy long life !! Just remember that there is no concept of breastmilk insufficiency. When animals don’t opt for formula milk to their kids, why should we ?? Nature is uniform.. So, we too can !! Breastfeeding is the pride of a mom.. Believe in you ! Believe in nature ! Breastfeed with confidence !! Happy breastfeeding..
Click here to look into diet for Feeding moms.
Click here to read about Do’s & Don’ts during breastfeeding. This post will have more tips & basics about breastfeeding.
I am neither a Doctor nor a Lactation consultant. But, I have faced so many problems regarding breastfeeding for both my babies & have successfully overcome it. Experience is the best teacher! Just shared this post as it might help many moms like me..
My sincere thanks to my friend Prabhavathi Perumal for this breastfeeding painting..