“What can I do to up my milk supply?”
The most common question I hear. Worrying about whether baby is getting enough milk is a natural and normal concern. Especially since , most of the time you’re not actually getting to SEE the milk with your eyes. Thing is, it’s not black and white. I wish I could give you some top secret recipe that would be the cure all for every single breastfeeding mom out there worried about her supply , but I can’t. First thing I ask is , “Why do you think you have an issue with your supply?” Most of the time I get the reply of , “Well because I’m only able to pump an ounce or two at a time.” Now here is the magical answer that should calm your nerves a bit.
Only being able to pump an ounce or two is actually pretty normal. While it can be frustrating, you don’t actually NEED three refrigerators full of milk. Also, something very important to understand is the amount of milk you pumped out is not a true indicator of your supply. So while you were only able to get two ounces out with a pump, there could very easily be two ounces or more left in your breasts . Try placing baby on the breast after each pumping session.. Your body produces more milk when your breasts empty. The more they empty , the more they will make. A baby can get the milk out far more efficiently than a pump ever could.
Now if you suspect there is a real issue with your supply go through the checklist. Is there plenty of wet diapers? gaining weight? Does baby seem content after nursing? If you can answer yes to all of those then everything seems to be on track, BUT and this is a big but, I recommend you get an assessment from an experienced IBCLC. I recommend ALL newly breastfeeding moms have a visit or two with one , even if everything seems to be going fine. Only because they may spot something you didn’t , be able to help and provide comfort you may not have known you even needed , and more importantly they can assess your situation & will most likely, be able to conclusively tell you if your baby isn’t getting enough milk. The great thing about IBCLC’s is the fact breastfeeding is all they do. That is their specialty, and a GOOD IBCLC will be able to assess on an individual basis to come up with a specific game plan. Most IBCLC’s also keep up with new information that comes out about breastfeeding every single day. Whereas a doctor may not even have any formal education in breastfeeding and will make it black and white. I’ve known a lot of doctors who immediately rush to, “Just top up with a bottle after every feed if you’re worried” without even assessing the mom on an individual basis!
Our society does not take breastfeeding as serious as they should or as serious as the mom who chose to breastfeed does. So even though topping up after a feed could be detrimental to your breastfeeding relationship , to them, it doesn’t matter one way or another. To them , it’s ‘Well good thing there is always formula you can turn to.” When a mom makes the choice to breastfeed healthcare professionals, friends, and family , should do whatever it takes to help the mom meet her breastfeeding goals, even if they don’t believe it’s worth the “hassle” because clearly the ones breastfeeding thinks that it is. Instead of , making it sound like , “Well who cares if your supply tanked , baby is being fed at least.” When had they given a correct assessment , it very well could have been avoided!
Of course , all that matters at the end of the day is a happy, content, baby with a full belly, but that doesn’t mean a mom should be coerced into her backup plan earlier than she wanted. Example- Most moms plan and prefer to have a vaginal delivery , but by necessity ended up having to have a C-section instead. At the end of the day , is it great that the baby still came out happy and healthy, despite not giving birth had she wanted? Sure , but it wasn’t something she wanted or planned on doing . She would have preferred giving birth vaginally. Do we need to start a hashtag #BirthIsBest, to ensure those moms realize that? No. Because they do realize it and they are grateful that another means of delivery was possible because the end goal is the same for both scenarios, a happy , healthy baby came out of it , but it doesn’t mean she can’t be disappointed and it doesn’t make her wrong for wanting to hold out for a vaginal birth , until she was absolutely certain it was the right choice. She doesn’t need to hear during that , “It’s just a C-section , C-sections are a good thing, they save so many babies every year.” DUH… Captain obvious , that is why she ended up okaying because no matter what it takes and how it’s done if it leads to a happy thriving baby , then so be it.
The invention of formula is great , but that doesn’t mean breastfeeding should be pushed aside & dismissed so easily , just because an alternative feeding option exist. Now if a mom , expressed feelings that she really doesn’t want to continue on with breastfeeding for whatever reason and there are lots of reasons why a mom would choose so of her own free will , then of course, support her through it. At that point it would be appropriate to say things like, “Well it’s a good thing you can turn to an alternative feeding method. All that matters is that your baby is fed.” Say that stuff AFTER, she herself, expresses her desire to no longer breastfeed. Let her come to that decision on her own , don’t push it along. Formula can be a Godsend for many and as a breastfeeding advocate , I’m happy it exists , but we need to stop pushing it on moms and making them needlessly doubt their own body’s ability to nourish her child. Unless there is evidence that baby isn’t getting enough milk & unless a breastfeeding mom sates her desire to formula feed, respect her breasts.