When it comes to breastfeeding your baby, there are many things to consider, including how you position your baby, how you secure a good latch, and many other things. The most important thing to consider when breastfeeding is to determine if you have a low supply of breast milk.
How do you know if your milk supply is low?
The benefits of bottle feeding are that you can keep track of how much your baby drinks on a daily basis. Breastfeeding can make it more challenging for you to do this. Trying to determine exactly how much breast milk your baby is getting is difficult, so you must rely on other indicators in order to do so.
Low breast milk supply at night
Many parents avoid feeding their babies at night since it’s normal to feel tired and want to sleep. But your body produces more prolactin (the lactation hormone) during night feedings. Therefore, your overall prolactin levels could drop if you skip night feedings, leading to a low milk supply. Additionally, breast milk tends to have a higher fat content at night, so it’s very nutritious for your baby.
Signs of low breast milk supply
Having a low milk supply is quite rare. In fact, a third of women produce more milk than necessary. But if you’re wondering if your milk supply is low, here are some signs that your baby is getting enough milk:
- There is adequate weight gain. It’s normal for newborns to lose from 5 percent to 7 percent (sometimes even 10 percent) of their birth weight in their first days of life. However, they should be back to their birth weight by day 10-14.
- The baby seems to have difficulty breastfeeding, such as crying or rejecting your milk
- Your nipples hurt so much that you cannot breastfeed very often
- You find yourself feeding your baby more often than you want to and this is causing you some stress and pain. In addition, it also increases the chances of losing weight from being fed too often or not enough, which is known as “The Baby-Feeding Syndrome”. The most common cause of this syndrome is that a mother has been given advice by doctors or nurses to feed her baby every two hours instead of every four hours (for example). This increase in feeding frequency can cause other problems as well, such as weight loss or frequent diaper changes (as babies tend to lose weight when they are fed frequently).
- You feel tired even though you have a lot of energy. In fact, you feel tired even if you are sleeping less than usual.
- Your breasts hurt for weeks or months on end and this causes a problem when your baby is hungry at night.
- Your breasts may get bigger and heavier because of the milk supply. It is important to remember that breast size isn’t the best measure of how much milk you produce, but some women have had their breasts get too big after they stop breastfeeding. It is also possible to lose weight by breastfeeding instead of bottle-feeding as formula companies often add extra sugar to the bottles they sell.
- You find it hard to cope with being separated from your baby for a long time, as this can make it difficult to breastfeed again when he/she comes back. This can be very upsetting for new mothers especially if they are having problems with their milk supply. Breastfeeding should be done daily, even during a night shift or when you need to take an urgent trip away from your baby.
- Your milk supply comes and goes too quickly. It may start out very quickly and decrease very slowly, or it may come in spurts.
- You are constantly pumping milk (you will be pumping every two hours), but you don’t feel like you are producing enough. It may help to increase your time between feedings, especially at night if you find that you pump a lot of milk when he/she is asleep. Pumping isn’t only for breastfeeding mothers who experience low supply problems because it is helpful to monitor how much milk your baby is drinking through a bottle or measuring cup by weighing it before and after each feeding. This can make you more aware of how often and for how long he/she is drinking from the bottle, and if he/she isn’t getting enough at one feeding then it can help to increase the next feeding as a result. If this doesn’t help, then there are some medications you can try, as we will discuss in the section on “Medication and Breastfeeding” .
- You have mastitis (an inflammation of the breast). There are many reasons why a mother could get mastitis: these include poor technique, soreness after nursing her baby, low milk supply, or blocked ducts in her breasts. This condition can cause swelling and pain when you nurse and some women also develop dark lines under their nipples, which can be painful when they start to bleed. Some women have mastitis when they first start breastfeeding because their nipples may not have healed properly after giving birth. If your nipples hurt, it is important to make sure you have a warm, damp towel to hold on to when breastfeeding, as it is possible that you will lose your supply of milk if the area around your nipple is too hot.
- You are sick with flu or other illnesses and find it hard to breastfeed. The common cold and flu can make it difficult for a mother to breastfeed because the common cold, especially, can make her feel very sick. Some women find that a sore throat makes them feel as though they are getting sicker when they try to breastfeed.
- You feel like you need some extra help or support during breastfeeding, such as having someone help hold up your baby while he/she feeds, using an electric breast pump during the night time when you can’t wake up again yourself after feeding (some women prefer this), expressing milk more often than usual or using formula instead of breastfeeding.