© Rox, 2018
Good morning on this beautiful Sunday. It’s 7 am, Ireland has a clear, starry sky, a moon that has lighted all night and the thermometer shows 1°C. The sun rises only after 8 o’clock. A beautiful day is announced, but here, in Ireland, you never know.
I’ve been thinking to write about breastfeeding, to speak about an issue that has made the beginning a bit tough and kept me awake searching for information on the internet, asking for advice on pro-lactation chat of HSE Ireland, seeking answers, support, solutions on the IBCLC, La Leche League forums and others. It’s about the milk supply a mother can have for her baby. Is there enough milk for him? Why does he eat so often? Is my milk good? Do I have to top up? In these seven months I think I have found the answer to all these questions. If you’re interested, continue to read.
Now excuse my question, but “Do you really have a low milk supply?” It’s a question that you can address yourself, I did.
Most women who give formula in addition to breast milk because they think the baby doesn’t get enough don’t really have a problem. And research has shown that a mother has milk for as many as five children, so one will surely be satisfied.
You have no problem if:
- Your baby does not have a number of x hours between meals, as you read in books or heard from other sources that it might be normal. It is known that breast milk is easily digestible, precisely because it is specifically designed for babies, it is the most valuable gift to your baby. He may be hungry after half an hour, an hour, two hours or no more than ten minutes. Yes, believe me, you read well. He can be in the middle of a growth spurt, he can eat all day long. I had nights when I nursed him every half an hour. Let me tell you something: the hormone responsible for milk production is at peak rates in the evening and babies know this. During a growth spurt they spend a lot of time at the breast (you will notice that there is more demand in the evenings) to order more milk for the next day. There is always a gain: weight gain, height or maybe a new skill. I knew this before the first growth spurt (10 days) when Robert was only 4-5 days old. I hope this will help you.
- Your breasts are softer than they used to be. The feeling of full breasts that we know from the onset of breastfeeding will not last forever. Sooner or later your breasts are being educated, they become storage experts, they adapt to your baby’s needs. Remember that milk can also be produced during a breastfeeding session (see also section 3). Engorged breasts have mostly transparent milk, the foremilk, the one that induces the feeling of satiety, full of carbohydrates. It’s the milk that quenches his thirst. The more soft the breasts, the more fat milk, that is also beneficial for your baby. Never wait hoping they will become full, they will be as you know them. It’s a big mistake. On the other hand, a full breast will send the message that there is no need for more milk and will slow production. An empty breast will always produce more milk.
- Have you ever heard of the fact that milk can change its composition several times during a feed? The nipples scan the baby’s saliva for viruses and other potential dangers that may affect their health and if they identify any problem, even if it’s a common cold, they order antibodies to heal the baby. I imagine it seems SF, but I know that from several sources. There is a bit of truth in this whole story.
- The baby feeds for a short period of time. Most babies get the necessary amount in less than 10 minutes, their ability to drain the breast increases with the age, they become effective. At the beginning of a feed they swallow with a higher frequency that slows afterwards. Generally, a longer feed is not necessarily a better one.
- Your breasts are small. Breast size doesn’t matter when it comes to breastfeeding. You can not approximate what milk production exists depending on the size of your breasts. Trust your body, it worked for 9 months to prepare for baby’s arrival.
- Your baby wakes up often to eat. A lot of babies have a meal frequency similar to daytime. A lot of them continue to wake up at intervals of 2-3 hours or more often for a long time. Robert did not sleep more than 30 minutes in a row for a long time. I realize you’re exhausted, so was I. But it’s over now.
- Your baby does not fall asleep after a feed. You put him in the crib and he wakes up looking for food as if he didn’t eat at all. They adore our warmth, they sniff us. They happen to like to stay at the breast, that’s their favorite environment, the one they know since they were in the wound. By the way, did you know that the smell of milk is the same as that of amniotic fluid? Maybe this is the answer to many of your anxieties.
- Your baby accepts formula top up after a feed at the breast. Any baby when challenged to suckle will do it. And milk flows very easily from a bottle, he works very little. That’s why many do not accept the breast when they get used to the fast flow of the bottle. And bottle feeding can predispose to obesity, it’s hard to stop, to figure out when they had enough.
- You do not feel the milk ejection. Some women have that sensation of electric shock in the nipples, some not. And more, some have it at first and then they lose it. You can worry sometimes, but it is perfectly normal for the sensation to disappear.
- You can not express too much milk. Pumping and breastfeeding are surprisingly unrelated. The baby extracts the milk completely differently. Many women with healthy supply can not pump.
If you are still with me, I can tell you that you have a problem if:
- Your baby doesn’t gain weight. Any baby loses a percentage of birth weight and regains it in about two weeks, then gaining 150-200 grams per week. If your baby has a problem, he still loses weight or doesn’t get enough, you will surely be informed by the doctor. Nothing is universal, every single baby is unique and will grow in its own rhythm. The graph can guide us in establishing a normality for our babies. That’s why doctor/nurse visits are very common in the early months. To find out if there are any problems.
- You don’t change enough diapers. In the first month we are guided by urine and stools. With the onset of milk (between 2 and 5 days after birth), we expect at least 6 urine diapers and 3 dirty diapers or more in 24 hours. After the first month, the stools frequency may change. That does not mean it’s a problem. However, if someone tells you it’s okay for a 10-days-old baby to not have dirty diapers for several days you shouldn’t believe him. The problem must be investigated.
Weight and diapers, these two aspects can suggest you that there’s a milk supply problem. If that’s okay, my personal opinion is that you have nothing to worry about and you shouldn’t refuse your baby the best start he can have in his life.
Watch him, when he’s about a month old he starts to smile. Robert began to babble at about two months of life. You see him growing, you follow his step by step development, you know him, you are his mother. You know better than anyone if your baby is fine. Is he active? is he happy?
Or maybe breastfeeding isn’t for you. It matters a lot to feel comfortable with yourself, so formula isn’t poisonous. You do the best you can for your baby.
It is perfectly normal to feel permanently connected, indeed, but it will not last forever. And think about the feeling you have when you hold your baby at the breast and you know that besides your love that’s all he needs? To be close to you, there is a closeness that can not be replaced with anything, the foundation of the most beautiful relationship is laid. It’s that moment that only between you two can exist, with a bottle anyone can feed.
|© Rox, 2018|
Some of the benefits of breastfeeding: the milk you can offer is free, always at the optimal temperature, it’s always there. It turns out that nursing mothers sleep longer. You don’t worry about bottle feeding, sterilization, thermos, temperature. Imagine only if you have not yet faced such a thing, a child’s hunger cry in the middle of the night while you prepare their bottle and you can not cool it faster. I find it terrible! Another article about my breastfeeding experience can be found here.
I did not realize when the time passed. It’s already 9 am. Robert’s still sleeping. As I said, a beautiful day is announced here. Take a look.𝕽 🖋
Disclaimer: I am not a lactation consultant. This article is based on my experience and contains various information collected and adapted to my own condition. Always look for specialized help.