How can I get my breastmilk supply off to a great start?
What can I do to increase my supply?
Do I have enough breastmilk for my baby?
1. Breastfeed your baby by following their cues…not the clock or the schedule in the book you were given.
Most of us know that by breastfeeding on demand and following our babies cues, we will be putting ourselves in the best possible position to help establish and keep up our supplies, but so often we question ourselves for breastfeeding “too much”! Breasts work on supply and demand so it is incredibly important for your baby to have unrestricted access to the breast as soon as possible after birth and for as long as possible after that. Some babies will need to breastfeed much more frequently than other babies. This has to do with the needs of your baby and your breastmilk storage capacity within your breasts. Although we all make the same amount of milk within a 24 hour period, we each have a different storage capacity so at any given time we will have varying amount of milk compared to another mother.
It is also important to avoid any artificial nipples (bottles and pacifiers/dummies) for at least the first six weeks. Some babies have a difficult time going back and forth from artificial nipple to real nipple and this can affect how they are latching on and removing the milk.
2. Breastfeed throughout the night to not only help keep your supply up, but also meet your baby’s night time needs through breastfeeding
Babies and toddlers breastfeed for many different reasons and there is not one reason that is more important than another. Babies breastfeed to help establish and build your supply, but they also breastfeed for pain relief, comfort and growth spurts, among many other reasons. Please head here for more information on this.
Research shows that many mums find they can get more sleep if they co-sleep or bed-share with their babies and they actually breastfeed for longer too. There is evidence that frequent breastfeeding throughout the night is a protective factor against SIDS and most mothers around the world safely sleep near or with their babies every night. Please have a look at Kathleen Kendall Tackett’s handout for research and more information on this topic.
To sleep safely with or near your baby:
Be alcohol, drug and medication free
Make sure you and your partner are non-smokers as second hand smoke raises the risk of SIDS
Sleep with your baby on a firm mattress NEVER A COUCH OR RECLINER
Do not have blankets near your baby’s head
Do not over heat your baby
Put them to sleep on their backs
Keep other children and pets out of the bed
4. Hang out with your baby skin to skin as often as possible in the early weeks and whenever you feel as though your supply needs a boost!
Skin to skin encourages your baby or toddler to breastfeed, if at any time you are concerned about your supply get skin to skin with your baby to help get them interested in breastfeeding more often. You can also do this with your older baby or toddler if they are having a “nursing strike”.
5. Trust your baby, they will not overfeed BUT in some cases they can be extra sleepy and will need to be woken up.
A baby who is born full term with no health concerns or conditions can simply breastfeed whenever they would like! Some babies will breastfeed every hour, while other babies will breastfeed every four hours. I always say follow the lead of your baby and just feed them when they are asking for it BUT there are some situations where your baby will be very sleepy and will need to be woken for a breastfeed these include: premature babies, babies who are jaundice, a baby who is not gaining well and baby’s who have other health conditions which made them less likely to wake often to feed, such as a baby with Down’s Syndrome.
A baby who is effectively latching on, sucking and removing your milk, is a baby who will stimulate your breasts efficiently and effectively to continue to make enough milk for them. Remember the more your breastfeed your baby, the more milk you will make! You cannot overfeed your baby!
How do you know they are latched on properly and effectively removing the milk? You will be able to see that they are sucking and then swallowing the milk while they are breastfeeding, you will not have any nipple pain after the first initial “ouchy” pain some mums feel in the early days, and your baby will show signs that they are getting enough:
How do I know my baby is getting enough?
Your baby will be gaining weight and growing as expected
Your baby will have 5 or 6 wet disposable nappies per 24 hours and 3-5 bowel movements per day once your milk has come in. As your baby reaches the 8 week mark, you will probably find that your baby is pooping less often and that is OK!
Your baby will be generally content after a breastfeed, yet remember your baby will have some cranky periods and that is normal too!
For more info on how to know your baby is getting enough milk, head here!
7. Some tips to increase your supply if needed…
Breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed frequently
Offer the breast and remain skin to skin as much as possible
Seek help from an IBCLC to make sure your baby is not only latching on properly, but also effectively removing the milk
Remember, trust your instincts and follow the lead of your baby, they will let you know if what you are doing is working for them or not! You cannot breastfeed your baby too often, you cannot hold and cuddle your baby too often, you cannot spoil your baby.
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