Breast milk is an important source of nutrients for babies who breastfeed, so it’s understandable that many breastfeeding individuals are concerned about producing enough milk.
Rest assured that there are simple ways to tell if your baby is getting enough milk — and simple ways to increase milk supply, if necessary. Here’s what to know.
Your baby’s weight gain and growth is the most important indicator of milk supply, more so than any other.
Most newborns lose weight immediately after birth, typically regaining their birth weight by about two to three weeks of age. (This varies by baby — consult your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your baby’s weight loss.)
Once a baby has returned to their birth weight, they should begin to gain an average of 4-7 ounces per week. Weight gain below this rate can indicate that your baby is not consuming enough milk.
It’s important to remember that temporary weight loss in a newborn is normal. Some breastfeeding individuals supplement breast milk with formula during this period out of concern. However, this supplementation can then create issues with milk supply and demand.
Counting diapers can also give you a good sense of how much breast milk your baby is consuming.
There are also some less reliable indicators of milk supply.
Many individuals who worry about milk supply actually are making enough breast milk, but for others, low milk supply is a challenge on the breastfeeding journey.
If you are experiencing issues with milk supply, the following tips can help you increase milk production.
In some cases, you may see improvements within a few days of trying one or more of these strategies. For others, it may take more time.
There are multiple factors at play, including your baseline milk supply and the cause(s) of your low milk supply.
A lactation consultant can help you navigate milk supply challenges (and just about any other breastfeeding challenge), offering individualized solutions.
This is the most important thing you can do to increase your supply, as your body will produce more milk to keep up with the demand of your baby’s feedings.
For many individuals, breastfeeding a newborn 8-12 times a day helps establish and maintain milk production. However, fewer feedings shouldn’t be cause for concern if your baby is gaining a healthy amount of weight.
Your baby’s latch, or how they take your breast into their mouth to feed, factors significantly into milk supply. The key to a good latch is to cover not only the nipple but the surrounding areola as well.
To establish and maintain a steady milk supply, it’s important to fully empty your breasts of milk. It’s better to fully empty one breast during a feeding than to offer both without fully emptying either.
During feedings, nurse until your baby unlatches on the first breast, then offer the other. If there is still milk remaining in your second breast, start with that one at your next nursing session.
For some individuals, it’s necessary to express or pump milk frequently between feedings to maintain a steady milk supply.
Breastfeeding is an energy-consuming activity. Rest, hydration, and a nutrient-rich diet will keep both you and your baby nourished and feeling your best. More specifically, be sure to get plenty of protein, iron, iodine, choline, and calcium.
Ruth Health offers nearly 24/7 virtual lactation support from lactation specialists to provide individualized care throughout your breastfeeding journey.
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