“I don’t have any milk.”
“I couldn’t breastfeed because I didn’t have any milk.”
“My baby never gets full.”
These are some of the most common statements that moms make when we discuss breastfeeding. Have you had a friend who told you they tried breastfeeding, but they did not have enough milk or their milk ‘didn’t come in’? If so, you probably walked away with questions about your ability to make milk. Today, I am going to discuss these concerns. This information will give you a better understanding about breastfeeding.
Colostrum – That’s Milk!
Colostrum is the first milk that mom has when she delivers her baby. This special milk begins production between 10-14 weeks of gestation. It is a thick, tan or yellow fluid that comes out in drops. This milk is suitable for the baby’s newly working tummy as the full digestive process starts when the baby suckles for the first time. The drops allow the baby to get used to the digestive process over the first few days of life. Normally, you will see 20-30 suckles to every swallow when mom still has colostrum. If there are no problems with latch the baby can empty the breasts of colostrum in 2-4 days. However, if mom and baby are having latch problems then this time can take longer. Because the baby is doing a lot of suckling, they will need to spend a lot of time at the breast. And this is where most people question if colostrum is sufficient. It is! For the first day of life, a healthy baby will take approximately 1 teaspoon at each feeding. This amount goes up to 1 tablespoon, the size of a walnut, and then an egg during the first week. The baby’s tummy is not big enough to take a full 2 ounces within the first 48 hours of life. While many will take 2 ounces, this is not advised because spitting up or vomiting usually follows. Keeping the baby to the breasts is the best method during this time if we are not having problems with latch. Of course, there are exceptions and those are not as common as most think they are.
That’s it! I’m Done!
How will your baby tell you that he/she is finished eating? They stop eating and will not go back to eating within a short period of time. Some feedings will end with the baby falling asleep, but if the baby wakes up after a short period of time that simply means the baby woke up. It does not mean that mom does not have enough milk or that the baby did not get enough. I advise moms to hold their baby for at least 10-20 minutes once the baby comes off of the breast. Do not put the sleeping baby down until their limbs are limp. If you touch the baby and the baby moves on their own then the baby is only in a light sleep. Wait until the baby is in a deep sleep (limp limbs) and then put the baby down or hand the baby over to Dad to do skin-to-skin or another person who is willing to hold the baby. Something to take note of is that the baby will have hands that are open and no longer in tight fists. When the baby is hungry their hands close into fists; sometimes with white knuckles. You may see a diaper (urine or bowel movement) between this feeding and the next feeding. If after a diaper or burping session the baby wants to go back to the breast that is okay. That does not mean the baby did not get enough. The space in the tummy has been freed up and the next feeding will fill that empty space; which is normal.
What is it? Issa Growth Spurt
Growth spurts are feeding developmental milestones that every baby goes through. Normally, they happen weekly for the first 8 weeks and then they happen monthly and quarterly. Humans continue to have growth spurts while we are growing beyond infancy. During the growth spurts the baby will be very hungry; eating every hour, multiple times in an hour, and/or have very long feedings. They will be fussy, sleepy, and starting at the second week the baby may have less or no bowel movements; but there will be plenty of wet diapers. Mom will feel the growth spurt in her body as well. She will be tired, sleepy, and very thirsty. About the third week postpartum, mom’s appetite will return. Her breasts will feel extremely soft and after a few days to a week her breasts may feel full, tender, and she may have some hard spots in her breasts. During the growth spurt, I encourage parents to keep the baby at the breast and get a lot of rest. Pumping output during growth spurts will most likely be low during this time. I only advise pumping if it is absolutely necessary. Keeping the baby to the breast during these times signals the body to produce more milk and milk with more calories and fat. We really do not want to miss these signals; which supplementing with formula will cause. For this reason, I do not recommend supplementation unless absolutely necessary. Families who are concerned about their milk supply should contact a lactation specialist. In most cases, your milk supply is fine.
Now That You Know
Concerns about your ability to make enough milk for your baby are normal. Hold onto this information and refer back to it as you start breastfeeding. Trust your body to do what it was made to do. Trust your baby to do what he/she was created to do. And enjoy breastfeeding.
If you are a breastfeeding mom who is concerned about their ability to make enough milk we should chat. I am only an email away. If you would like my support check out my list of services and pricing. In the meantime, check out my Periscope broadcast where I go into a deeper explanation of what I have discussed in this blog post.
What questions do you have about this information? Did it make sense to you?