Breastfeeding is a natural process, but it doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes mom and or baby can run into some bumps in the road during their breastfeeding journey. Most of the time with some troubleshooting and trying out different solutions mom and baby can get back on track. Having tools in your tool belt in case a situation arises can lead to a longer more successful breastfeeding road. If you would like additional assistance from our team Schedule an appointment today!
Milk supply and moms wondering if they are making enough is the biggest concern during breastfeeding. Most moms can make a full supply of milk, only a small percentage of women truly have low supply issues. At different times though moms sometimes think they have low supply, but in reality they just need to adjust something or check to see if it really is a supply issue.
Contacting a Lactation provider to see if you truly have low supply and having professional guidance will be key. Two things you can do to check your supply is a weighted feed with a lactation provider where you weigh the baby, feed the baby, and then weigh the baby again. The difference in weight will give you a good estimate of how much the baby transferred. You can also check the baby’s diaper output, whatever goes in must come out. If the baby is having adequate diaper output you are most likely making enough milk. It is also important to remember that if you are pumping to see how much you are making, what you pump is not always what the baby is transferring.
The most common reason for low milk supply is poor latch. If your baby is not latching properly he/she can not efficiently transfer the milk. The removal of breast milk from your breasts is so crucial as it is what tells your body to make more milk, supply and demand. If your baby isn’t latching correctly your milk supply will suffer. The best thing to do is get an evaluation from a lactation provider to get your latch adjusted, different positions suggestions, lip/tongue check, oral evaluation to see what is going on and get you and your supply back on track.
Not breastfeeding often enough is another reason for low milk supply. Newborns need to feed around every 2-3 hours including through the night. As you start to spread your feeds out farther apart you tell your body you do not need to make as much milk. The more you put baby to breast the more you stimulate your body to make more breast milk. If you are pumping this will be the same thing the more you pump and tell your body you need more milk the more you will make. Understanding feeding cues, avoiding too much pacifier use, avoiding strict feeding schedules,and not allowing your baby to sleep long stretches will allow for more natural opportunities to put the baby on breast and maintain a healthy supply. If you have a sleepy baby making sure to wake at 3 hours so that not only are you keeping up with your supply, but to know the baby is getting enough milk.
Feeding too short
Each time you nurse or pump you should feed around 10 minutes on each side. If you are pumping it is recommended to double pump. If your baby is feeding for 5 minutes or less he/she will not be able to grow at a healthy rate. Less than 5 minutes of a feed will also not be enough to drain your breast to stimulate healthy supply. Removal of your breast milk is so crucial in maintaining a healthy supply.
Growth spurt of baby
When babies go through growth spurts they may appear constantly hungry. When they are wanting to feed what feels like every hour it is known as cluster feeding. During a growth spurt it can seem like you have low milk supply, because they are wanting to eat so often making moms believe they do not have enough milk. This is very natural and normal and along with baby’s growth your milk has to grow with them. Allowing them to cluster feed brings in more mature milk to meet their growth needs. These growth spurts usually only last a couple days. Seeking professional guidance from a lactation provider to confirm growth spurt and nothing else going on can help put mom’s mind at ease.
Things that can cause real low milk supply issues are insufficient glandular tissue, hormonal or endocrine problems, PCOS, previous breast surgery, using birth control, taking certain medications or herbs, not feeding at night, sucking difficulties or anatomical issues. All of these should be followed by a lactation provider.
Having painful nipples during nursing and pumping can be a real problem with breastfeeding. Mild discomfort in the first 30 seconds that goes away with readjusting can be normal. Anything more than this can be reason for concern. Your nipple should look the same before and immediately after the feeding. There should be no flattened, pinched, or creased appearance.
Some reasons you can have painful, cracked, itchy, bleeding nipples are poor latch from baby, incorrect flange size from your pump, thrush, nipple blanching (white nipples) or vasospasm. For poor latch reference above in seeking a lactation provider to address nursing holds and positions as well as checking baby’s mouth for ties or oral issues. For flange sizing please see our sizing guide or reach out for a lactation consult to be properly fitted. Thrush is a yeast infection that can cause your nipples to be itchy. Your primary care provider or OB GYN can prescribe an antifungal for treatment. Following thrush protocol after with pump parts and changing of nursing pads will be crucial to prevent reoccurence. Nipple blanching and vasospasm can happen when the baby is poorly latched or you are in the wrong size flange.
Issues with Baby
Sometimes babies can experience issues during the feeding journey such as weight gain, minimal output, gassiness, fussiness, and oral suck/tie issues. Addressing weight gain and minimal diaper output is important to seeing if a latch or supply issue is the culprit. Gassiness and fussiness could be a latch or tie issue or a food intolerance in mom’s diet. When trying to figure out what is the culprit it is best to narrow things down and play detective with professional guidance from your lactation provider.