As a breastfeeding advocate, I love to inform and encourage others to breastfeed. I remember being a first time mom who knew little to nothing about it. No one in my family had breastfeed before and never once do I remember seeing a baby breastfeed. It just wasn’t the norm for me. I was aware of the benefits though and craved that bonding time everyone talked about. I felt alone in the world because it seemed like no matter how much I read about breastfeeding there was still more to know.
What I’m saying is, I know how it feels to be lost. To the girl who wants to breastfeed but doesn’t have a clue where to start, I’ve been there too! That’s why it’s my goal to help pregnant and new moms as much as possible. Over the past year I have answered many questions about breastfeeding. I’ve had some questions about latching, a bit on pumping too but boy oh boy have I got questions about milk supply! In fact, the number one reason why moms quit breastfeeding is because they believe they don’t produce enough milk.
In most cases, this is simply a misconception.
Now, I know some of you are thinking, “This girl doesn’t know me. I know I didn’t have enough milk.” There are indeed exceptions. Some moms truly don’t produce enough but that number is very few.
So what’s the short answer here?
Yes! For most moms, you are producing enough. Let me tell you why…
Misconception: “I haven’t leaked at all this pregnancy. I don’t think i’ll have any milk.”
I’ve got this many times from pregnant moms but girl, there’s no need to worry! Whether you leaked loads while pregnant or never a drop, it doesn’t have anything to do with your milk supply. I’ve talked to moms before who have never leaked and are able to exclusively breastfeed with no problems. On the other hand, if you do leak it is not a guarantee that you will be a mad producer.
Misconception: “I tried pumping but I didn’t get much. Guess I don’t have any milk”
Many moms decide to break out the pump to determine how many ounces of milk they are making. Most of us are visual people. If we can’t see it, we have a hard time believing it so of course it’s discouraging when a mom pumps and barely gets a drop of milk. Don’t let that stop you though! Breasts were designed for babies, not breast pumps. Even the best pump in the world will not measure up to a baby. Let me use an example. Karen and Maggie are best friends. They are both able to exclusively breastfeed but here’s the kicker. Karen can pump 5 ounces at a time but Maggie can’t get a drop. Does that mean Maggie is starving her baby? Of course not! All bodies are different and even though Maggie is not able to pump, her baby has no trouble at all getting his milk.
Misconception: “My breasts don’t get hard anymore. I dried up.”
After the birth of a baby it typically takes 3-5 days for milk to come in. When it does, many moms will experience engorgement. This is very normal and although uncomfortable it doesn’t last forever. For the first few weeks you may notice your breasts becoming very full and hard to the touch. You take that as a cue to feed your baby and they become soft again. Okay, cool beans.
Suddenly, you start to notice that your breasts no longer get engorged. That combined with increased feedings and fussiness in your baby would be enough to concern any mama. You may be thinking your supply dried up and the baby is starving. Don’t jump to conclusions yet though because guess what? It is likely a growth spurt! The first one occurs at 2 weeks of age and then another at 6 weeks. During this time baby will want to breastfeed more frequently and your breasts will likely stay soft.
This is a good thing though! You want your baby to empty your breasts because of supply and demand. If there is no demand for more milk your body won’t make more.
misconception: “My baby is constantly breastfeeding. She’s not getting full off me.”
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Newborns eat all the time! Maybe you already knew that but I think some of us forget just how much they eat. Unlike bottle fed babies who typically eat on a schedule, breastfed babies can vary. They will usually nurse 8-12 times in a 24 hour period but sometimes they want to every hour. That’s perfectly normal!
Now let’s go back to Karen and Maggie. Karen’s baby wants to eat every 3 hours and is perfectly satisfied with that but Maggie’s baby wants to eat every hour. Does Karen produce more milk? Nope, they produce the same amount! So why does Maggie’s baby want to eat more often?
Karen’s breasts have the capacity to hold 3 ounces of milk but Maggie’s will only hold 1 ounce. Both babies need one ounce per hour so when Karen’s baby breastfeeds he is good for another 3 hours. But what about Maggie? Her baby needs to eat every hour to be satisfied.
How do I know that I’m producing enough?
This is actually pretty simple!
1.) Weight gain- If your baby is gaining weight sufficiently then wohoo!
2.) Diaper count- What goes in must come out. If your baby is having plenty of wet and dirty diapers then you know that he or she is taking in enough milk. After day 4 babies need 6 or more wet diapers per day and at least 3 dirty diapers for the first month. After that, stool output can vary.
3.) Baby is content after breastfeeds- A baby who gets enough breast milk will often fall asleep and unlatch themselves.
I am not a health care provider and do not claim to be. If you feel your baby needs medical attention please seek the help of a medical professional.