As a new mother, you desire nothing more than to give your child the best in life and health. As such, nothing is better for your child than being breastfed. You feel a sense of pride when your child latches on and receives your first and best gift to him. However what happens when you think or perceive that you don’t have enough breast milk to feed your baby?
“Why am I not producing more milk?”
To produce enough milk, you need to begin early. Start breastfeeding within the first hour of your baby’s life. The first feed not only keeps baby warm and stable, suckling will initiate milk production and establish the correct latching and suckling pattern. As you breastfeed, the sensation at the breast goes to the brain signaling it to release two hormones – prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin causes the breast to produce milk while oxytocin causes the milk to flow. Thus, to produce more milk, more breastfeeding hormones are needed and by breastfeeding frequently, more breastfeeding hormones are produced.
“Help! My milk flow is diminishing!”
To keep your milk flowing, you need to breastfeed frequently and properly. A good start will be about once every two hours once you are in the postnatal ward. Once you return to work, it is advisable to continue breastfeeding and if you must, express your milk while at work. The giving of top up feeds of formula milk, water, other food and drinks during the first 6 months of life and the use of pacifiers all reduce suckling of the breast, which will in turn affect milk production.
“How will I know if I am producing enough breast milk for my baby?”
He has had enough milk if he is contented for about 1 hour after a feed. In addition to that, your baby will also put on at least 20 grams a day after the first week of life if fed sufficiently. Another way to gauge this is by checking baby’s excretions. Your baby will pass urine about 5 to 6 times a day and pass stools 3 to 8 times a day during the first month.
- Milk production can also be affected by what you eat. Ensure that you are eating right by:
– Eating balanced meals according to the Food Guide Pyramid.
– Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
– Take supplements only if advised by your doctor.
– Eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods.
- Limit tea and coffee. These may cause baby to become over active. However, one to two cups of coffee or tea a day is fine but do not exceed six cups a day.
- Continue breastfeeding if you are ill to prevent blocked ducts, mastitis (breast infection) and abscess (pus).
- Do not take medications that have not been prescribed by your doctor.
- Do not smoke or expose yourself and baby to second-hand smoke as this can reduce milk production.
- If you have a personal or family history of asthma, skin, or nose allergy, it is best to avoid milk and milk products. These may cause allergic rashes in the baby.