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Breastfeeding, though it is a natural process, is not always trouble-free. The reason is that many mothers encounter several challenges during the process, especially for new moms. Some of the challenges of breastfeeding can include milk stasis, mammary hypoplasia, and infant health problems such as weak sucking reflex, among many others. How to tell if milk supply is drying up? This question is one of the main concerns that many mothers encounter during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. I want to cover various aspects of breastfeeding, such as signs of low milk supply and how to increase milk supply. I’ll also include some helpful tools that can assist in regaining milk supply.
Why do we breastfeed?
Also known as nursing, breastfeeding is the process of feeding infants with milk from the breast of the mother. It is widely recommended by health experts to start breastfeeding as soon as possible after the birth of the baby. They also recommend that it continues exclusively for six months without any formula or juice. After six months, parents can introduce other foods such as proteins, vegetables, fruits, and grains.
There are several benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby. Breast milk contains all the essential nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and fat, needed for the growth of the baby. It also contains antibodies, which protect your baby from various bacterial and viral infections. Studies have revealed that babies, breasted solely for the first six months, have a lower risk of various health complications such as diarrhea, respiratory illness, and ear infections, among many others. Some studies claim that proper breastfeeding also increases IQ during the later stages of childhood. Breast milk is fantastic nutrient source for babies and young children.
Apart from the benefits of breastfeeding for babies, mothers also receive several benefits. For instance, it reduces the risk of cancer relating to breast and ovarian. Breastfeeding also helps to reduce pregnancy weight quickly as it burns extra calories.
Signs of Low Milk Supply:
It is worth noting that mothers being unable to have a low milk supply is significantly rare; evidence concerning the low production of breast milk is insufficient. In some cases, this problem is more a perceived low supply or difficulties with breastfeeding management. Nevertheless, here are some signs that can indicate a low milk supply.
· Not gaining adequate weight: If you notice that your baby is not gaining any weight, then it can be a sign that you are not producing sufficient milk for your baby. It is usual for babies to lose weight during the first few days after birth, which will return to the typical birth weight within ten to fourteen days. To ensure a detailed assessment of the weight of your baby, you should consult your doctors. The reason is that other factors can influence the growth of your baby.
· Does not Poop: Babies should poop at an approximate of three to four times a day, which can reduce as they gown older. Pooping with moisture is an indication that your baby is receiving sufficient milk.
· Dehydration: Some of the signs of dehydration in babies include tearless cry, dry mouth, and dark urine, among others. If you notice any of these signs, then it can be an indication that your baby is not getting adequate milk supply.
· Irritable after Feeding: If your baby does not fall asleep after breastfeeding, then it can be a sign that you are not producing sufficient breast milk.
· Look for the Cheeks: For babies who are getting enough milk supply, their cheeks will appear full and puffy.
Factors for Lowered Milk Supply:
You should note that these are some common factors and are by no means exhaustive. Some of the factors that can significantly lower the supply of milk are as follow:
- Reduced milk ducts due to cancer or surgeries.
- Inappropriate feeding position.
- Consuming oral contraceptives or other related medications.
- Babies with lip tie or tongue tie.
- Replacing breast milk with formula or supplementation.
- Insufficient feeding time.
- Incomplete latch.
- An unhealthy lifestyle, such as smoking or consuming alcohol.
How long does it take to increase milk supply?
One of the universal challenges of breastfeeding relates to how to increase milk supply. But, how long does it take to increase milk supply? Answering this question mainly depends on how frequently you are feeding your baby. The more you breastfeed, the more your body will respond to making milk.
According to experts, it takes some time for the milk supply to set up after giving birth completely. As such, you should not be overly concerned if your body is not producing enough milk during the initial. It will return to normal once your nursing schedule becomes stable.
You should note that the human body is more intuitive. According to an article published by LLLI (La Leche League International), your body will exactly know the required amount of milk to make after six weeks, given that you are nursing consistently. As such, if you want to increase your milk supply, then you should increase the duration of your nursing sessions. Moreover, consuming healthy food and pumping at least once or twice a day will significantly enhance the milk supply. It is worth noting that increasing the milk supply is highly subjective as it will differ from one mother to another. Some mothers may take only a few days to increase the milk supply, while others might take weeks.
Helpful Tools to Regain Milk Supply:
Having an adequate supply of breast milk is essential for the proper nourishment and growth of your baby. If your milk supply is low, then you should consider using effective lactation supplements to increase milk production. One of the best ways to improve your breast milk supply is to opt for lactation supplements while at the same time increasing the pump and breastfeed. However, you should consult your physician when deciding which supplement to choose. Fenugreek is one of the best supplements to increase milk production. Women have used this supplement for many years to enhance milk supply. It comes in different forms, such as powders, capsules, teas, seeds, and liquid.