We’ve all heard the stories of how blissful breastfeeding is, but for many women, breastfeeding can quickly become a nightmare. If developing a good breastfeeding routine has left you feeling frustrated, don’t lose hope.
At My Organic Company, we know how hard breastfeeding can be and have addressed some nursing issues in our article series: Resolving Breastfeeding Issues Part 1 and 2. In this article, our third of the series, we’ll be discussing milk supply and pumping.
When discussing the issue of low milk supply, it’s important to determine whether or not your milk supply IS really low or if you are experiencing other nursing problems that are making you think you have a milk supply issue. If you’re wondering if milk supply is the real issue, ask yourself, “Is my baby gaining weight well on breast milk alone?” If your little one is gaining weight well and has an adequate number of wet and dirty diapers, you probably don’t have a milk supply issue.
If your baby is not gaining weight or is losing weight and you suspect milk supply is an issue, contact your doctor and a certified lactation consultant. In addition to offering you support, your doctor and lactation consultant can also recommend ways to increase your milk production (a supply and demand process!). Keep in mind, until your baby has reached a weight you and your pediatrician are satisfied with, he or she may suggest supplementing breast milk with infant formula.
Some of the more common recommendations for increasing milk production, include:
Your doctor or lactation consultant may also recommend pumping to help increase your breast milk supply. As mentioned above, milk production is a supply and demand issue. By adding pumping sessions to your breastfeeding routine, you are removing more milk from your breast and therefore, increasing the demand for milk.
If your doctor recommends pumping to increase milk supply, you’ll probably want to invest in a good quality electric pump like Medela. Before purchasing a breast pump, check with your insurance provider. Some insurance providers will help financially with the purchase of an electric pump or offer a policyholder a hospital grade pump.
Pump after or in between feeding sessions and if you can, continue to pump two to five minutes after drawing the last drops of milk. If you pump right after a feeding, you may not get a lot of milk, but don’t fret. In a short time, your body should adjust to the increased demand for milk.
If you're pumping at work, try to pump when your little one would feed and when you would add an additional pumping session.
Maintaining and increasing breast milk production can be tricky, especially if you are returning to work. But, if you dedicate a little time and are patient with the process, a milk supply issue can be fixed. Also, never hesitate to seek professional help! When it comes to the health of your and your baby, there is no issue too small or silly to be discussed with your healthcare provider or lactation consultant.