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Breastfeeding Myth #2: Many women can't make enough milk

Many women believe they are physically unable to produce enough milk to meet the needs of their baby. In reality, most cases of low milk supply are caused by the mismanagement of breastfeeding. Breasts make milk in response to being emptied (although the lactating breast is never empty, because it keeps making milk). The more frequently and thoroughly the breast is emptied, the more milk it makes. However, many women are advised to nurse infrequently and to limit the duration of breastfeeding. They also may not know how to recognize when the baby is latched on and positioned well at the breast, both of which are needed for the baby to effectively transfer milk--and empty the breast. Mothers are also often advised to give the baby a supplement for non-medical reasons, which reduces how much the baby breastfeeds--and lowers milk supply. Milk supply is very dynamic. So, low milk supply is very responsive to improvements in the management of breastfeeding. With accurate information so they can manage breastfeeding appropriately, most women are able to develop an ample supply. In the uncommon circumstances that a woman truly cannot provide all the milk that her baby needs, improving the management of breastfeeding will maximize her milk supply.

Resources on improving milk supply include:

La Leche League's collection of online articles related to milk supply issues at http://www.llli.org/NB/NBmilksupplyissues.html

Jack Newman's articles on milk supply issues:

Is My Baby Getting enough Milk? at http://www.breastfeedingonline.com/4pdf.pdf

Slow Weight Gain After the First Few Months at http://www.breastfeedingonline.com/25pdf.pdf

Cynthia Good Mojab
Director, LifeCircle Counseling and Consulting, LLC (www.lifecirclecc.com)

Comments

Jennifer Ruwart's picture

Breastfeeding going strong

My baby, Jonah, is 8 weeks today! He is exclusively breastfeeding and growing like a champ. He loves loves loves to eat! I suggest to all women who are struggling with breastfeeding to talk to a nurse or lactation consultant. Every time I've had a question (from thrush to green poop), I've called both and have received the support I needed. Many women, especially in the states, simply aren't around newborns or nursing mothers enough to know what to expect or what is normal. It can be overwhelming so don't hesitate to ask for support.

Curiously, how many new moms are on this site? Give a shout out if you are here.

Best,
Jennifer and Jonah

pamelamorrisonibclc's picture

Breastfeeding going strong

Good for you, Jennifer! Lucky Jonah to be exclusively breastfed by such a happy and well-informed mom! I'm a mom of three formerly breastfed boys, and now a lactation consultant. Thanks for your nice comments about the support you've received in these crucial early weeks. Because you've worked through the uncertainties of the first few weeks, from now on it should just get easier and easier. As the baby grows, moms often wonder if they will still have enough milk to continue exclusively breastfeeding a bigger baby for six months. There's some fabulous research from Western Australia which shows that, amazingly enough, it's during the first month that your milk production goes up and up. From 1-6 months it stays more or less the same. You've already got there, so now you can just sit back, trust Jonah's wonderful appetite, and enjoy!

Best to YOU and all breastfeeding moms,

Pamela

Elizabeth's picture

Very happy for you...

8 weeks! Hope you enjoy the time...

cgoodmojab's picture

Adoptive breastfeeding

Jennifer, I'm so glad to know that you've been receiving the support and information you need for breastfeeding. Good for you for seeking that help and good for those who have given it!

I'm also a breastfeeding mother--but my journey is adoptive breastfeeding. Even though I'm an international board certified lactation consultant, it's been a daunting path helping my baby learn how to breastfeed when she had such a difficult start in life and had only ever experienced bottle feeding. As much as I know about breastfeeding and about adoptive breastfeeding, there's been no rushing her own part of this process. I'm still working hard to build my supply, find donor milk, and help my baby learn to nurse without any extra gadgets, but we've come a long, long way from where we started. The moral of the story is perseverance, patience, and making use of the knowledge that is out there. Even professionals need support!

I'm glad to know you've made it through your own challenges and are able to enjoy a beautiful nursing relationship with your baby.

Best, best wishes,

Cynthia

Cynthia Good Mojab
Director, LifeCircle Counseling and Consulting, LLC
www.lifecirclecc.com

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