Common Questions/Concerns About Milk Supply

By: Nikkie Seamons

Many, many parents worry about milk supply, is my baby getting enough? Why are they hungry again? My supply must be low, we need to supplement with formula or stop breastfeeding altogether or take a concoction of things to try and increase our supply.
How do you know your supply is actually low?
Is your baby having plenty of wet diapers? Is your baby still gaining enough weight?
If you answered yes then relax mama your supply is just fine. What happens if you don’t know if they’re getting enough wet diapers or gaining enough weight? Read on and I will explain it to you.
Wet diapers - you should be expecting 5-6 good wet nappies per day, how do you know if it is sufficiently wet though? Easy! In a clean, dry diaper pour 3 tablespoons of water into the diaper, this is what you need to be comparing them to. In the early days though until your milk has come in babies should have 1 wet diaper per day of life (example: baby is 3 days old so you would expect 3 wet diapers if your milk has not yet come in). Older babies from about 6 weeks of age will decrease the number of wet diapers but the amount of urine in the diaper will increase.
Weight gain - Has your baby lost weight after birth? Don’t panic this is not because of your milk, newborns lose up to 7% of birth weight after birth. After your milk comes in baby’s weight will increase. But is it enough? Health professionals aim for approx 170g per week which is the same as 6oz, an important thing to remember though is every child is individual and may gain more or less and still be perfectly happy with no supply issues, this is just a rough average and should not be held as gospel.

Dirty diapers - It is important that we look at dirty diapers as well as wet ones. Typically like wet diapers newborns generally have one dirty diaper per feed (more is perfectly normal too!) Stools at this age will be soft and yellow in colour, it may also seem seedy all of this is okay! As baby gets older bowel movements will decrease and a breastfeed baby can go quite a number of days without a bowel movement as there is not much in the milk that is considered waste.

Milk Supply

One question we get asked a lot over at Breastfeeding Mama Talk is why is my baby nursing so frequently, I don’t think I make enough milk if they’re still hungry an hour later.
Babies and infants nurse frequently especially when breastmilk is all they have this is because the body doesn’t have to work so hard to digest it since it’s not as heavy as formula and there is less for the body to break down since the most part is all good stuff which the body absorbs, quicker digestion leads to a empty tummy sooner. This doesn’t last forever and in time your baby will stretch out but just because they nurse frequently doesn’t mean your supply is low and certainly doesn’t mean you need to start supplementing.

The dangers of supplementing and your supply - The more formula you feed your baby the less milk you remove from your breasts, this tells your brain that your body doesn’t need all this milk it has and stops producing as much which is where supplementing can lead to issues with supply which is why we only recommend it as an absolute last resort.

Other risk factors - Some women strongly believe they have a low supply and reach for the fenugreek or motilium or any other type of galactagogues, this is all well and good IF YOU HAVE AN ACTUAL SUPPLY PROBLEM. By taking these with only a suspected issue can lead to the opposite problem, an oversupply that will leave you engorged, in pain, having trouble latching baby on and maybe even mastitis. So whilst these things are there to help it is always best to speak to a lactation consultant or breastfeeding counsellor first.

If you have any questions please ask us and we will more than happily help you.

Milk Supply
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