Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided their health fitness is good.
Breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is recommended by the World Health Organization as the perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth.
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or above two years
Sometimes mothers think their milk supply is low yet it is not. This can happen if the mother loses the feeling of fullness in her breasts or if milk stops leaking from the nipples. But these are actually signs that the body has adjusted to the baby’s feeding requirements. A baby going through a growth spurt may also want more milk than usual, and his more frequent feedings may leave the breasts less full than they have been.
In most cases, either the baby is getting plenty of milk or the mothers’ low supply can be corrected. In some cases, a low milk supply can put a baby at risk for malnutrition. So it is important to get this issue checked out.
A mother’s milk supply may diminish temporarily if she is not feeding her baby often enough because of nipple pain, a lethargic nurse, or a poor latch-on technique. An illness or birth control pills that contain oestrogen can also affect milk production.
For some few mothers a biological or physical condition such as a hormonal disorder or breast surgery causes milk supply to be low.
For most women, though, the real problem is delivery, not production. They produce plenty of milk, but for some reason, such as an incorrect latch-on technique, the baby might not get enough.
Therefore mothers need to check whether their babies are getting really enough breast milk. There are several ways one can tell whether the baby is getting enough breast milk.
First of all, the baby adds on little weight in the first three months of life. Newborns will typically lose some of their birth weight in the first few days before gaining it back.
Therefore weight gain is the best indicator that the baby is getting enough breast milk.
Usually in the first month, the baby has at least three stools a day and they lighten to a yellowy-mustard colour by the fifth day after birth. After the first month, the stools become less frequent.
Some babies will even go a day or two between stools. Other criteria’s that can help you know whether the baby gets enough breast milk is to notice him on feeding. Normally you will hear him swallow and you sometimes notice milk in the corners of his mouth. A baby with adequate breast milk will appear healthy and active.
Also to notice is that the baby wets seven or eight cloth diapers a day.
Disposable diapers are more absorbent, making it hard to tell when one is wet. If the mother is not sure, she can take one off and compare its weight to a dry disposable. A wet one will feel slightly heavier.
There are also ways a mother can help her baby boast the milk supply. When the baby’s sucking and swallowing pattern slows down, mother can use breast compression to increase milk flow to the baby and to completely drain the breast. When the milk flow with compression seems to be slowing, then she can switch sides and repeat. She can keep switching back and forth between breasts until the baby is satisfied or stops swallowing.
The mother can also stimulate her body to produce more milk by adding a pumping sessions.
Mother can also store any milk she has pumped for the baby’s next feeding patterns. However mothers should never supplement baby’s baby’s feedings with any solid food or formula, unless the doctor or paediatric nurse decide that the baby needs supplemental nourishment for medical reasons.
Baby’s should also be encouraged to conform themselves at the breast as the continued sucking will stimulate milk production. A sleepy baby may need to be awakened and encouraged to nurse more vigorously thus stimulating the breast glands to produce more milk. Mothers should also try to keep baby’s awake and interested, try switching sides frequently, alternating positions, or even undressing him.
Some mothers play with their baby’s feet during feedings to keep them awake.
Mothers who determine that their milk output is actually low may want to have their thyroid level checked. A low thyroid level is known to reduce milk supply.