Tips to help your milk supply come in for breastfeeding
After the birth of my newborn I started meeting up with new moms all around town. I became obsessed about learning to breastfeed correctly because my sister and cousin both experienced cracked, bleeding nipples and mastitis which they described as “more difficult than labor.” Amidst my breastfeeding support group meetings I noticed a common cycle among moms who tried to exclusively breastfeed but ultimately resorted to formula either part time or full time.
The most common cycle seemed went like this:
–>mom starts to breastfeed –>gets worried if baby is eating enough–>starts pumping to try and measure milk supply–>supplements with formula in fear (without consulting doctor)–> results in lower milk supply–>ultimately can’t breastfeed or must supplement
It’s very practical to be concerned about baby’s food intake. However, I believe new mama’s should have a little more confidence in their bodies. With a plethora of info on the net and a huge community of moms everywhere, new moms should never suffer alone. I feel so fortunate my sister and cousin shared great tips with me, so I’m here to share them with others who might not have that help.
Here are a few tips that led to my breastfeeding success:
- LATCH ASAP-Give baby that nipple! Just get baby on the nipple and let baby nibble. Sucking might not be immediate but eventually it will come. I had my baby at my nipple 16 times the first day. [In a recent study on epidural analgesia, babies that were born with an epidural had a lower latch success rate. However, at 6 weeks there was no difference of breastfeeding success between moms that had an epidural and moms that didn’t]. Whether latch occurs immediately or after a couple days, just keep working at it.
- FEED OFTEN- Getting your baby to feed as often as possible in the beginning is key. Notice, I didn’t say “as much.” Because it’s not about quantity in the beginning. It’s about all the suckling. Breastmilk is all about supply and demand. The more nibbling/sucking there is the more milk will come.
- PROTECT THE NIPPLE- I personally used Lanolin however there are some other nipple butters and other concoctions mamas use. You can also use your milk itself to moisturize your nipple after every feeding. Whatever it is, PROTECT THE PRECIOUS NIPPLE. By my cousin’s suggestion, I slathered that lanolin on after every single feeding. It worked. But even with that protection there were a few feedings about a week in, where my nipples got pretty tender. At that point I used a nipple shield for a few feedings and as soon as they felt a little better it was back to direct feeding. (You don’t want to use shields too much because your nipples needs to get used to the suckling).
- REST– Getting rest in between feedings is so important—helps with healing and milk production.
- EAT WELL-You can’t create nutrition if you’re not taking any in!
- ENCAPSULATE YOUR PLACENTA– with tons of iron, oxytocin, hemoglobin, estrogen, and so much more, these magic pills naturally help your milk come in!
- TAKE MOTHER’S MILK TEA–The ingredient that helps promoted breast milk is fenugreek. The tea doesn’t contain too much of it, so you need to drink the tea several times a day for several days after you have the baby. No positive if it helped my supply but my post partum nurse swore by it so I took it!
- DON’T STRESS – Making milk is a natural product of the body and believe it or not, you need to relax. Stress releases cortisol, which counteracts oxytocin, which enhances the breastfeeding letdown reflex, reduces postpartum bleeding, and strengthens mother-baby bonding.
- DON’T PUMP!-Okay, I’m not a doctor, but from my own personal experience and observation, I believe that the pump is the ultimate enemy in the first few weeks. Pumping in the beginning, especially if you use an electronic pump on the wrong settings, can harm your nipples. It’s also stressful watching milk come out for the first time. Stress is the enemy of oxytocin, which helps promote your letdown. Pumping is not nearly as effective as your baby’s suckle. So if you pump and don’t see enough milk, it may cause you to freak out–which is the LAST THING YOU NEEDDDD. Plus, early pumping and bottle feeding can cause nipple confusion on your baby.
- KNOW BABY IS EXPECTED TO LOSE WEIGHT THE FIRST WEEK. Unless your doctor says you should be concerned, DON’T. Know that all babies are expected to lose weight after they are born! The picture below also illustrates how eety beety baby stomachs are in the beginning.
- DON’T SUFFER ALONE. If you’re having trouble and sense baby is not latching correctly, get help! It’s so helpful to join a breastfeeding group. You can get practice breastfeeding in a safe environment while getting help from other lactation consultants or moms. You may just need a little help, or perhaps baby is tongue tied. Whatever it is, don’t suffer alone. Get help immediately!
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