Site Logo
Ask our expert

Your question:

I'm worried that my milk supply is not enough. Should I top up with formula?

Expert’s answer:

Concern about reduced milk supply is a frequent worry for breastfeeding mums.

The amount of milk you make depends on how often and how effectively your baby feeds at the breast. As your baby sucks you release 2 hormones (oxytocin and prolactin). Prolactin is the milk making hormone and oxytocinon is the hormone that squeezes the milk down the milk ducts to the nipple and this is often called the ‘let down’ or milk ejection reflex. It follows a principle of supply, and demand. If your baby needs more milk than you are producing, you may need to breastfeed more frequently or drain the breasts more effectively in order to increase your supply. Your body will react to this frequent feeding and put in the order for more milk.

In the early days as your body was adjusting to your baby’s needs you may have felt more engorged and full at times. Maybe, now your body has fine-tuned the supply to your baby’s needs and is now making the right amount of milk so you have less feeling of engorgement and fullness.

Your Baby’s nappies will also reassure you that your milk is more than enough. A link at the bottom of this page gives guidelines on what you should be seeing in a nappy.

Are you doubting your milk supply because.......?

  • The baby is feeding very often. Many babies have a strong desire to be in close contact with their mother. Once baby is positioned and attached to the breast and actively transferring milk from the breast then this suggests you have a good supply.
  • The baby seems hungry after an hour or after being fed. This is due to the breastmilk being very digestible so they feed more frequently.
  • The baby suddenly increases the frequency and length of feeds. Babies who are very sleepy newborns often 'wake up’ at about 3-4 weeks and begin to breastfeed more frequently. Babies can go through growth spurts at varying times so feed frequently to increase the supply for their increasing energy needs.
  • The baby decreases the breastfeeding times. This may be baby is more efficient at draining the breast and is now more experienced at breastfeeding.
  • The baby is fussy. It is normal new born behaviour to have fussy periods each day often at the same times. Fussiness can be caused by other things rather r than hunger which often leads to the mum feeling less sure about her milk supply.
  •  Breasts don’t leak, only a little or not at all. Don’t worry about this as breast leaking has no relationship to the amount of milk you produce.
  • Breasts feel softer. This happens as your milk supply adjusts to your baby’s needs and the initial breast fullness and periods of engorgement subside within the first few weeks.
  • Don’t feel the ‘let down’. Some mothers may not feel or be aware of the let-down reflex so it’s nothing to worry about. One way for you to observe the let-down reflex is when your baby’s sucking goes from the initial fast sucks at the start of a breastfeed to the slow deep sucks with more frequent swallowing.
  • Cannot express much milk. The amount of expressed milk volume doesn’t reflect your true milk supply because your baby when well positioned and attached to your breast will feed effectively and may cempty your breast more efficiently than a pump.
  • The baby takes a bottle after a breastfeed. The baby will appear to guzzle down a bottle after a breastfeed. This further diminishes your confidence in your milk supply. Babies will suck on a bottle and they like to suck. This doesn’t mean they did not get enough from the breast.

Also, it is advisable to reduce the amount of time a baby uses a pacifier or if baby is taking supplements as this can also diminish milk supply.  If you have cracked or sore nipples this may be a sign that the baby’s positioning and attachment to the breast needs more attention.

Have a look at this link if this concerns you:

https://www.breastfeeding.ie/Getting-Started/Positioning%20and%20Attachment%20of%20Baby%20to%20the%20Breast/

 Here are links on baby’s routine, guidelines for mums and weight gain:

https://www.breastfeeding.ie/First-few-weeks/Babys-routine/

https://www.breastfeeding.ie/First-few-weeks/Guidelines-for-mothers/

https://www.breastfeeding.ie/First-few-weeks/Weight-Gain/

Support Groups

Getting out to a breastfeeding support group is a wonderful way to meet other mothers and they will be delighted to share their experiences about increasing their milk supply. Support groups are run by Lactation Consultants, public health nurses, accredited La Leche League Leaders or trained Cuidiu Breastfeeding Counsellors who can give support and information. Friends of Breastfeeding provide social support at their Mum2Mum groups. You can also phone La Leche League leaders or Cuidiu Breastfeeding Counsellors if you would like to talk to somebody outside of their meeting times. The following link will take you to a list of breastfeeding support groups: https://www.breastfeeding.ie/Support-search/

Comments

ADD YOURS



loading comments
loading comments...

Leave your comment

  1. please click the checkbox below