Breastfeeding is a very delicate phase that strengthens the beautiful bond with your baby. It is one of the major concerns of all pregnant mothers, but this problem is observed only in a few of them. Pregnant mothers usually start to panic and think if there is no breast milk after delivery then what to do or how to boost the milk supply. It’s quite natural to worry about breastfeeding, adequate milk secretion, and whether the baby will get a sufficient amount of milk or not. These are very common headaches and insecurities, but you should start figuring out the ways instead of worrying, taking the stress, and hampering the hormonal changes in your body.
It is quite normal if your baby loses weight during the initial days. Your baby will gain weight with subsequent days. The best indication which suggests that you are delivering adequate milk to your baby is the growth curve. If the curve portrays a positive slope, then your baby is gaining enough weight.
Sometimes, stress, insufficient sleep, inadequate water intake, improper diet, hormonal disbalances can lead to alterations in breast milk secretion. You can contact your pediatrician if you give birth to a premature baby and ask her if there is no breast milk after delivery then what to do. To help all the new moms, we have come up with some natural ways to boost the milk supply.
Reasons for low milk supply
Baby’s weight gain is a notable indication of an adequate milk supply. On the other hand, the absence of your baby’s growth spurts, any history of breast surgery, medications, and hormonal changes can bring out the signs of low milk supply. Various signs of low milk supply are stated below:
- When your little one urinates a minimal amount of urine.
- Your little one is not gaining weight.
- When the urine color is dark yellowish. If your baby does not remain hydrated, then the urine color is dark yellowish.
There are some reasons due to which your baby might not get enough milk:
- Any history of breast surgery –If you have undergone any breast surgery either for medical or cosmetic purposes, then you are prone to the secretion of less breast milk. Surgery can only bring alterations if and only if any the extent of the surgery is severe. On top of that, breast reduction surgery is also a considerable reason behind low milk supply.
- Hormonal disbalance or endocrine problem –Issues like diabetes, hypertension, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) lower milk production and its supply.
- Underdeveloped glandular tissue –It is also called mammary hypoplasia. Underdeveloped breast and glandular tissue can be the contributing factors that reduce milk secretion.
- If you cannot feed your little during the night –Always try to feed your baby at least once during the night. Prolactin, the hormone which is responsible for milk production, intensifies its production during the night. So, try to feed your baby in one or two shifts during night time.
- If your baby is finding it difficult to suck the milk –Your little one may find it troublesome to suck or extract out the milk properly. Conditions like food allergy, down syndrome, breathing difficulties while sucking, premature birth, and reflex problem while sucking or breathing may also resist your baby to get enough milk supply.
- Blood loss –You know very well that blood loss is a part during childbirth. Excessive blood loss can be a contributing factor in low milk supply.
- Medications –Intaking medications for a prolonged period can bring toxic effects that further facilitate hormonal and physiological disturbances. So it is always advisable to take medicines as prescribed by the physician.
- Infrequent feedings –Maintain regularity and try to feed your little one after a spaced interval. In response to your baby’s cues, feed him/her immediately. Your breasts produce additional milk when they are empty. If you feed your baby scantily, then your partly filled breasts will not permit glandular tissues to produce more milk. Gradually, it lowers the tendency of milk secretion.
Apart from these reasons, conditions like anemia, hypopituitarism, obesity, diabetes, smoking, stress, intaking certain medications can also be the reasons behind low milk supply.
How does breast milk supply work?
To know how breast milk supply works, you need to understand how breast milk is produced. Breast milk production is an integral physiological process. During the later days of your pregnancy and after childbirth, your breast secretes colostrum. After delivery, the level of progesterone and estrogen decrease drastically. Several hormones, namely prolactin and oxytocin, play significant roles in the entire procedure, starting from milk production in glandular tissues to the milk ejection. The smooth muscles surrounding every milk-producing cell in glandular tissue become active when prolactin is secreted. This is the cause for which prolactin hormone is also referred to as ‘milk-producing hormone.’
Milk production and milk ejection are different events. The role of oxytocin shows up during milk ejection. Along with several other functions, oxytocin plays a vital role in milk ejection. That’s why oxytocin is also called ‘milk ejecting hormone.’ When a baby cries or sucks nipple, these events induce oxytocin’s secretion in a significant amount. Which further causes muscle contraction in the breast and helps in milk ejection through the nipples.
Prolactin helps in initial milk production, which lasts up to the initial 1-5 days. Later, the breastfeeding supply and demand are responsible for milk secretion. That means that the proportion of milk secreted from your breast, whether by breast pump or your baby sucking it, is responsible for milk production and secretion.
Now you may ask when does milk supply regulate? Though it may vary, in most cases, it happens between 6-12 weeks postpartum. Supply regulation occurs all of a sudden, and the overall milk supply decreases.
Signs your baby isn’t getting enough milk
Don’t forget to look out for the crucial signs which reflect that your little one is not getting enough milk. A situation like low milk supply is very rare. As a mother, you should know a few easy ways to analyze that your baby is not getting sufficient milk.
These are the signs of low milk supply to your newborn:
- Dark-colored urine –It simply suggests that your baby is undergoing dehydration, which further indicates that your baby is not getting sufficient milk. Less fluid intake is the ultimate and sole reason for the production of concentrated urine.
- Little weight gain –. It is normal for your baby to lose weight in the initial few days after birth. But after a few days, your baby will start gaining weight. Gaining 20 to 30 grams a day after the first few days is normal. Your baby will regain his original weight by the 14th day. Continuous weight loss and delay in weight gain can be the signs of low milk supply. You should seek advice from your pediatrician.
- Less urination –If your baby urinates very often, it suggests a fluid imbalance in his body. To eliminate fluid imbalance, allow your baby to drink sufficient milk.
Signs baby is getting enough milk
It is essential to learn and look for the signs which depict that your baby is getting enough milk. Below are some approaches and signs which tell that your baby is getting enough milk. If you are new to motherhood, then you must be struggling to find answers to these questions like how to know the baby’s stomach is full, how frequent should I feed my baby, when to feed and when to stop.
These are some signs which reveal that your baby’s stomach is full, and you should stop feeding:
- Takes off his/her mouth –Once your baby finishes drinking, then he voluntarily takes off his mouth from your breast.
- Breasts feel lighter –After breastfeeding, your breast will feel much more lightweight, emptier, and softer than before.
- When your baby stops showing cues –If your baby stops weeping and drinks milk calmly, then it is a sign which tells he/she is no more hungry.
- Baby stops crying-When your baby comfortably sucks, then you can easily hear your baby swallow.
- Regular feed-You baby will normally feed 5-8 times a day, and after each feed, he/she feels relaxed. So, try to feed your baby routinely.
Ways To Boost The Milk Supply
It is an interesting fact that milk production may vary from time to time. But if you want to know how to increase breast milk naturally at home, then these are some points that may help you:
- Lactation when needed –Your milk production will depend upon how often you breastfeed your baby. The more you feed your little one, the more milk will be produced.
- Ample amount of rest –Being a mother is very important and a hectic job. If you get tired, it will affect your milk production. So you must take a sufficient rest so that your milk production remains optimum.
- Eat and sleep well –As a mother, you should eat proper food on time and also drink ample water to avoid dehydration. There are foods which increase breast milk supply, so choose your diet correctly and try to intake a non-irritant, anti-inflammatory diet.
- Breast massage – While feeding your baby, you can also massage your breasts. Gently encircle and roll your finger around the nipple, which might help you in milk production and supply.
- Use a breast pump – Breast pump can be a good idea as it brings an immediate result. This method can be beneficial for your milk production. You can use the pump for 10-20 minutes in between feedings. This helps your breasts to become empty, which sends a signal to produce more milk.
- Drink plenty of water –Always stay hydrated. Drink an adequate amount of water. Breast milk contains more than 90% water. So whenever you have a headache or dry mouth, drink sufficient water.
- Stay optimistic and worry less –Don’t take the stress. Taking stress can bring hormonal changes, which are subjected to get alterations in milk production. Stay optimistic and light-hearted. Do not let your insecurity and fear to overrule your confidence. Try to contact a lactation consultant or pediatrician whenever it is necessary.
- Skin to skin touch –Skin to skin touch is a beautiful way that contributes to producing a considerable amount of breast milk. When your skin comes in contact with your baby, it lowers your baby’s stress. This method is also called kangaroo care. Hold your baby correctly and let him/her sleep on your bare chest. The direct skin-to-skin touch intensifies breast milk production.
- Adapt proper breastfeeding positions –Proper breastfeeding position and holding your baby comfortably allow you little to suck milk effortlessly. Your baby can suck properly in an appropriate position of breastfeeding.
- Don’t intake food or beverage that decrease milk supply – You should not consume alcohol, excessive caffeine, and smoking because they can interfere in milk production. Try to seek advice from a physician whenever you are taking any medicine, especially birth control pills.
When to seek help of Doctor?
There may be different kinds of signs and symptoms that you should be aware of. If the problem persists for several days, then you should consult a pediatrician.
Some issues that might bring difficulty in breastfeeding are mentioned below:
- If you have a history of breast reduction or enhancement surgery or a chest surgery
- If your baby does not latch on
- If you get a fever
- If you have a chronic illness like hypertension, diabetes
- If your baby is premature and is unable to be breastfed
- If your breasts didn’t grow during pregnancy
- If your baby is passing concentrated urine
- If your baby is not passing at all
- If your baby is not gaining weight
- If your baby struggles while sucking breast milk
Natural way to boost the milk supply conclusion
Breastfeeding your baby is very important in the initial few months, as his immunity, growth, and development depend on it. I hope this article has given you a few ideas to naturally boost the milk supply to feed your baby sufficient milk for is growth.
If you know any other way by which the new moms can increase their milk production, then do share it in the comment section below.