Any nursing mom will happily explain that breastfeeding is one of the best bonding experiences a mother can have with her child. It’s also a fantastic way to provide babies with all of their nutritional needs. However, the road to a successful breastfeeding relationship can be a bumpy one. Those softly-lit pictures of sleeping babies calmly nursing while their mothers gaze down at them wistfully are often a stark contrast to the reality of a frazzled new mom desperately trying to get her crying infant to latch while she wonders if her milk supply is on the fritz. We can all relate to that frazzled mom more often than we’d like to admit, but don’t despair! A low milk supply doesn’t have to be the end of your breastfeeding experience. Read on to find out how to keep the milk flowing.
Supply and Demand
Nursing is, at its core, a supply and demand process. This means that the more milk is expelled, the more milk will be produced. While this seems like a simple concept on its surface, it’s easily forgotten. For example, we’ve all encountered the fear that our baby isn’t getting enough to eat at feeding time. If they’re still fussy after nursing and refusing to latch back onto a nipple, we might decide to supplement with a bottle. While our little one devours the formula after nursing, our body is getting the signal to make even less milk. For this reason, it’s important to avoid supplementing with formula. Even when our bundles of joy are acting more like tiny squirming nightmares, resist the urge to give up. Sometimes it takes that extra minute or two for our little ones to latch back on, and suddenly they’re just as content as the babies in those delightful breastfeeding photo shoots. While it may seem counterproductive sometimes, nursing more is the best way to keep up your milk supply.
In a Slump? Time to Pump!
While supplementing with formula is a big no-no in terms of supply, that doesn’t mean using bottles is completely off the table. For those of us who are working moms, bottles are an essential stand-in for the times we can’t be next to our babies. Pumping while at work is a fantastic way to both supply the little one with food and ramp up breast milk supply. Many new moms only get six weeks of maternity leave before we’re back to the grind, so it’s extremely important to continue frequent feedings at this early stage. Considering most jobs aren’t infant-friendly, a quality breast pump is a fantastic stand-in for a nursing session. Pumping at work is best done in a quiet, private place where you can relax. Having something that smells like your little one, such as a blanket or piece of clothing of theirs, can aid in letdown. Pump as frequently as you can, as this signals your body to keep up a steady production of breast milk. Even stay-at-home moms can greatly benefit from pumping, whether we’re away from our baby for a few extra hours or decide to pump in between feedings to really ramp up our supply.
Quick Tips for a Better Supply
We’ve got down the basics of supply and demand. We’re pumping as often as possible. Yet, our milk supply still seems to be dwindling! Don’t panic. Try some of these simple tips.
- Use a nipple shield. This is especially helpful for moms with flat or inverted nipples that make latching difficult.
- Offer both breasts. While establishing your supply, your little one may still be hungry after finishing one side. Remember to offer the other breast too; you might be surprised at how often your baby takes it.
- Don’t sleep through feedings. Both mom and baby may need to be woken up to have a nursing session, as skipping sessions rapidly leads to a lower milk supply.
- Avoid pacifiers. Your infant may come to prefer sucking on a binky over nursing from you.
- Find a good nursing bra. Bras that are too tight can cause plugged ducts and other problems.
Never Give Up
While breastfeeding is certainly no picnic, it’s one of the best things we can do for our babies. Struggling with a low milk supply is a problem nearly all nursing mothers face, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up. If we look to the tried-and-true methods of mothers who have come before us, we’ll be sporting an impressive supply in no time. We might even be ready to schedule one of those cute breastfeeding photo shoots!
Ameda offers a wide range of quality breast pumps to help you maintain your supply when you’re away from your little one. With just three simple steps, you can see if you’re eligible to receive an insurance-approved breast pump. Get started today!