Low 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 during night feedings. Therefore, your overall prolactin levels could drop if you skip on 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.
On Day 5 Expect Your Baby And Your Body To Start Adjusting To Breastfeeding
At this point, your baby is likely waking up on his own to feed every two to three hours, and producing at least six wet diapers and three to four yellowish, seedy stools. Your breasts should begin softening after each feeding, indicating your baby is removing milk, and your baby is likely beginning to gain weight. Your breasts may feel excessively full, and leaking milk is common.
Between Days 11 And 14 Prepare For A Growth Spurt
Near the end of her two weeks, your baby will likely have a growth spurt and will want to nurse more often than normal, acting ravenously hungry. This can last for a few days until your baby meets his increased milk needs, and your milk supply will likely adjust to meet these increased demands.
Your breasts may not feel as full as they did during the first two weeks. This does not mean that you dont have enough milk. If your baby seems satisfied after feedings and is gaining weight, he is getting enough. Weekly weight checks with your babys pediatrician can help you stay on track in the first month, until breastfeeding is fully established. Babies who are breastfeeding well will gain 5 to 7 ounces weekly.
Nursing your baby is a special experience. Though there may be challenges along the way, breastfeeding often becomes much easier, more enjoyable and more rewarding over time.
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Don’t Forget To Relax
Relaxation will help your milk flow freely. Some of my favorite ways to keep relaxed when I was breastfeeding or pumping were:
- Listening to calming music
- Creating my own favorite pumping spot that I would return to each time to pump
- Making sure I was seated in an ergonomic way
- Preparing a snack before I started, so I wouldn’t have to be disturbed when I was in the zone
- Having a good book or T.V. show ready to keep me entertained.
I personally liked to pump while watching my favorite sitcoms. I was laughing so hard at times, I almost forgot I was pumping. Oftentimes multitasking or just taking your mind off the task is enough to help you get more milk!
Don’t Blow Off Pumping Sessions
If a friend stops by to see you and your baby, you might lose track of time. A few hours later, you realize you skipped the 2 p.m. pumping session you planned to do that day. That’s not so bad, is it?
While that one missed session won’t cause your milk supply to become as dry as a desert, getting in the habit of skipping pumping sessions can hurt your milk supply dramatically, plus you’ll become engorged. And that’s no picnic.
The first time my breasts became engorged, I couldn’t concentrate on anything but relieving that pain and pressure.
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How Do I Clean Baby Bottles And Nipples
Whatever cleaning method you use, make sure to wash your hands well before you begin.
Glass or metal bottles: Run them through a dishwasher cycle that uses heated water and a hot drying cycle. Alternatively, hand wash them in hot, soapy water and let them air-dry on a dish towel or paper towel.
Plastic bottles: Because heat can cause plastics to release harmful chemicals, the AAP recommends that plastic bottles not be put in the dishwasher or submerged in boiling water. Instead, hand wash them in hot, soapy water and set them to air-dry on a dish towel or paper towel.
Nipples and rings: Whether you’re hand washing or using the dishwasher, take apart the nipples and rings, and rinse them under running water. Place them in the dishwasher in a closed-top basket or mesh laundry bag. If not completely dry when the cycle is complete, place them on a dish towel or paper towel to air-dry.
To hand wash, place rinsed nipples and rings in a clean basin of soapy hot water. Scrub with a clean brush that’s used only for washing infant feeding items. Squeeze water through the nipples to make sure they get clean. Rinse them under running water, then let them air-dry on a dish towel or paper towel. Wash the basin with soapy hot water and let it air-dry too.
The Centers for Disease Control provides detailed instructions on cleaning baby bottles.
If My Baby Doesn’t Finish A Bottle Can I Save It For Later
Bacteria from your baby’s saliva mixes with whatever fluid is in the bottle, which leads to contamination.
Leftover formula: If your baby doesn’t finish formula within an hour from when feeding began, throw away any that’s left over.
Leftover breast milk: The antibacterial properties of breast milk give it a shelf life of two hours. After that, throw it out.
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Use Your Baby To Help Stimulate Your Letdown Reflex
Your milk flow is controlled by your let down reflex. To help yourself let down your milk and start stockpiling it for a rainy day, there are several things you can do. Some breast pumps have let down modes, but there are non-mechanical ways of achieving let down too.
- You can massage your breasts.
- Use wet heat from a washcloth.
- Look at your baby or even a picture of your baby.
- Touch or smell your baby.
Sometimes right before I pumped before my bedtime, I would go into my daughter’s room and stare at her for a few minutes. Other times, I would grab a piece of her clothing and inhale that wonderful baby scent. It really seemed to work for me.
What Does The Research Tell Us About Increasing Milk Supply
Milk is being produced at all times, with speed of production depending upon how empty the breast is. Milk collects in moms breasts between feedings, so the amount of milk stored in the breast between feedings is greater when more time has passed since the last feed. The more milk in the breast, the slower the speed of milk production.
To speed milk synthesis and increase daily milk production, the key is to remove more milk from the breast and to do this quickly and frequently, so that less milk accumulates in the breast between feedings:
In practice, this means that a mother who wishes to increase milk supply should aim to keep the breasts as empty as possible throughout the day.
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How To Breastfeed During The First 2 Weeks Of Life
The most important piece of advice: Be easy on yourself.
This guide was originally published on May 5, 2019in NYT Parenting.
Though breastfeeding can be a beautiful experience for many, it isnt always easy. As you hold your newborn for the first time after enduring one of the most physically and emotionally demanding feats of motherhood, its normal to feel a range of emotions: from joy and elation to stress and anxiety. These feelings can be compounded during the first two weeks of your babys life, which are the most challenging and important for establishing milk supply especially for first-time mothers.
As a 25-year neonatal intensive care unit and newborn nurse, a board-certified lactation consultant and the mother of three exclusively breastfed boys, I know firsthand what basic information is most helpful for nursing mothers, from how to achieve a proper latch to how to recognize your babys hunger cues.
Ive also reviewed the most current scientific research and clinical guidelines, and spoken with a neonatologist, a pediatrician and a neonatal nurse practitioner, to help you recognize what is and isnt working so you can breastfeed with confidence during the first two weeks after birth.
Be Willing To Adjust Your Pumping Schedule
When you notice an upswing in how much milk you are producing, it might be time to tweak your schedule.
You can pump a couple of minutes longer per session and focus more on how many times you pump per day overall, rather than worrying about making sure they are spaced out every two hours.
If you go back to the office, you’ll likely also have to tweak your schedule once again as you start pumping at work.
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Should I Pump Longer Or More Frequently
Women who are pumping exclusively should pump between 8 to 10 times every 24 hours.
Pumping frequently is one of the keys to producing as much breast milk as possible. But making sure you pump long enough is crucial too.
You might find you’ll need to pump as long as 20 minutes each session to fully drain your breasts, but once you’ve reached a high level of milk production, you can lower that number to 10 to 15 minutes .
If you’re still struggling with milk production, however, you should try pumping more often, as often as 12 times every 24 hours.
You should also pump a couple of minutes longer each session too that will ensure you get all the milk that’s in there. When you’re struggling to increase your supply, every drop counts.
What To Do If You Have Low Milk Supply
If you suspect your baby is not getting enough milk, see a lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist. They will assess whether you have low milk supply and observe a breastfeed to see if your baby is latched on well and taking in enough milk. They may suggest adjusting your feeding position or your babys latch so she can feed more efficiently.
You could also try having more skin-to-skin contact with your baby before and during feeds to stimulate the hormone oxytocin, which gets your milk flowing. Or use relaxation techniques, such as listening to your favourite calming music, to reduce any anxiety that could be affecting your supply.8
With support, most mums with low milk supply are able to partially breastfeed their babies, and some will manage to develop a full milk supply.
If your baby is not yet taking enough milk directly from the breast, perhaps because she was premature or has special needs, you may need to express to protect your milk supply, and your healthcare professional may prescribe galactogogues .
If youre not yet able to express enough breast milk for your baby, youll need to supplement her with donor milk or formula, under the guidance of a medical professional. A supplemental nursing system can be a satisfying way for her to get all the milk she needs at the breast.
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Birth Medications Or Jaundice
Mothers dont always realize that medications used in labour, such as epidural anaesthetic or Demerol, can affect the babys ability to latch on and breastfeed effectively. Some studies show these effects last as long as a month, depending on the medication used in the epidural and the length of time the mother received it. Jaundice, a common condition in newborns, can also make your baby sleepier than usual, so that he doesnt wake up to nurse as often as he would otherwise. In both cases, you may need to pump your milk to build up a good supply. Once your baby has cleared the medications from his system and the jaundice has been treated, he will probably begin nursing well and youll be able to reduce and eventually stop pumping.
What Is Paced Feeding
Paced feeding means feeding your baby in a way that gives him more control. It respects your baby’s hunger and fullness cues, and mimics the flow of breastfeeding.
- Use a wide-based, slow-flow nipple.
- Keep the bottle horizontal, so the milk or formula flows as your baby sucks on the nipple. Experiment to see what works best for your baby, so that he’s sucking and swallowing slowly and comfortably.
- Rather than push the nipple into your baby’s mouth, stroke his lips with the nipple until he opens wide.
- Pause frequently during feeding to keep your baby from guzzling.
- Switch sides now and then, as you would when breastfeeding.
- Let your baby stop eating when he shows signs of being full. Don’t encourage him to finish a bottle after he’s lost interest or fallen asleep.
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You Aren’t Limited To One Let Down Per Breast
While the most milk you’ll get in a pumping session will come with the first let down, it is possible to get more than one let down in a session .
You’ll have to pump longer to make it happen because you’ll have to wait until the milk starts to slow from the first round. Then you use your breast pump on the massage mode once more for a few minutes until your second let down happens.
You can also use hand massage and nipple stimulation to encourage another letdown to occur. A popular method is the “Jiggle, roll & stroke” as demonstrated in this video.
Pump With Your Hands After Using Your Breast Pump
If you use an electric pump, try pumping by hand when you’re finished to see if you can get extra milk.
To hand express milk, you massage your breasts and give any spots that feel full extra attention with the massage.
After the massage, compress each breast by hand several times until you no longer notice any milk flow.
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When You Need To Supplement Breast Milk
If you do experience low milk supply, youll need to give your baby some formula as well. Usually this is temporary, until your own milk supply increases or until your baby starts enough solid foods that the supplement isnt needed. But too many mothers find that once they start giving formula theyve take the first step on a path that leads to decreasing milk production and an early end to breastfeeding. But there are ways to successfully supplement and still keep breastfeeding. Try these approaches:
Consider supplementing at the breast with a feeding tube that has one end in a container of formula and the other slipped into the babys mouth as he breastfeeds. Some mothers will tape the tube to their breasts, while others slide it into the corner of the babys mouth as he nurses. This method ensures that the baby gets both formula and breast milk at the same time and hes encouraged to keep breastfeeding.
If you are supplementing with a bottle, give the bottle first and breastfeed second. Put a bit less formula in the bottle than you expect the baby to take. By giving the bottle first, the baby isnt frantically hungry when he comes to the breast and may be more willing to work at learning to breastfeed well. He also gets to experience having a full tummy while hes at the breast, which gives him positive feelings about breastfeeding. Let him nurse as long as he wants.