You Think your Milk Supply is Low? Maybe Not!

milk supply__1460040579_162.206.228.38It’s very common for breastfeeding moms to fear that their milk supply is low.  After all, there are not little indicator lines on the side of your baby’s stomach showing how much he’s eaten.  However, concern over low milk supply is often unfounded due to misconceptions.  Today we’re taking a look at how to tell if your baby is getting enough breast milk and which methods do NOT mean your milk supply is low.

How to tell if your baby is getting enough breast milk

Most babies can thrive on breast milk alone for the first six months of their lives.  That is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding during that time.  However every baby is different, every mother is different and every breastfeeding experience is different.  Without reassurances mothers can feel anxious over milk supply and whether their babies are drinking enough.  If this is you, it is a completely normal fear!

One way you can determine whether your baby is feeding adequately is if he is having frequent bowel movements and clear urination.  You can easily stay informed about BMs and urination during diaper changes.  If you are concerned, keep a diaper log to count how many stools and wet diapers you get per day.

Another way to know that your baby is getting enough breast milk is if your baby is gaining weight consistently and appropriately.  You don’t have to wait until your pediatric appointments to weigh your baby.  Simply step on the scale with your baby and subtract your own weight to determine how much your baby weights. This will help reassure you that your baby is gaining a healthy amount of breast milk.

Additionally, listen for your baby’s swallow.  If he is latched properly, he should be sucking and swallowing consistently.  Also, babies are usually content after eating your amazing, tasty breast milk.

How NOT to determine your milk supply is low

Many factors about breastfeeding will evolve as your baby grows, which can be confusing for new moms, especially when it comes to milk supply. If you are breastfeeding regularly and your baby latches properly, your body will likely adapt to all of the changes your baby requires of your breast milk.  Don’t fall prey to these misconceptions about low milk supply:

  • Your breasts don’t feel full.  You may have felt engorged in the first month or two after giving birth but after awhile your body regulates milk supply based on your baby’s needs.  Therefore, your breasts may feel soft even when you have plenty of milk.
  • Your baby wants to nurse all the time.  When a baby hits a growth spurt, he’ll want and need to nurse more often.  Your body will sense this change and produce more milk to keep up.  Also, sometimes babies really like to suck and be close to their mothers.  It’s comforting and emotionally satisfying to them.  In this case, the only thing they are not getting enough of is you!
  • Your breasts aren’t leaking.  Leaky breasts have nothing to do with milk supply.  Be happy that you don’t leak and stay positive about your supply.
  • Your baby will take a bottle after a full breastfeeding session.  Again, some babies really like to suck, even if they aren’t hungry.  It’s better not to supplement after feedings because doing so could impede your milk production.
  • You don’t feel a let-down.  Some women never feel let-downs.  Some feel them several times during a feeding.  You are still producing milk even when you don’t have a let-down.
  • Your baby is fussy after eating.  Don’t confuse the need for a burp or baby fatigue as dissatisfaction over not getting enough milk.  Get to the bottom of the issue if your baby is fussy after eating.  Chances are it isn’t that your milk was lacking.
  • You pump and get nothing.  Your baby is much more efficient at your breast than a pump.  Plus, your baby stimulates your breast much better than a pump and therefore encourages your milk supply.

Before you have a meltdown about your low milk supply, make sure you are not using any of these misconceived methods as an assumption.  Instead, watch your baby and use him as a true gauge for the health of your milk supply.