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Yvonne Heavyside On Issues with Breast Milk Supply

ExpertsPost Category - ExpertsExpertsParentingPost Category - ParentingParenting - Post Category - BabyBaby

Q: My baby is 2 weeks old and I have noticed my breasts are very soft. I am worried my breast milk supply has gone down. What should I do?

A. Are you sure your supply has really gone down? The breasts often feel very full and uncomfortable when the milk comes in around the 2nd and 3rd day. They tend to produce much more milk than the baby needs. Once the baby is feeding frequently and effectively the breasts will often feel more comfortable and much softer. As breast milk is produced on a supply and demand basis eventually the breasts produce roughly what the baby needs. They tend to reach maximum production at around 1 month.

If your baby is gaining about 20 grams a day and is doing lots of wees and poos it’s unlikely you have a low supply.

However if you really want to increase your supply try to feed frequently and make sure you empty the breast as much as possible as this will send messages to the brain to release prolactin, the hormone which controls milk production.

Pumping after you have fed will also increase supply although this is very time consuming so realistically 2 or 3 times a day is achievable.

Studies have shown that night feeds help release more prolactin than day feeds so don’t be tempted to skip these at this stage.

Some studies have shown that Fenugreek capsules, which can be bought from health food shops may increase supply. Take 3 tablets, 3 times a day. Some doctors may prescribe motillium, which is an anti-nausea drug. It’s  side effect stimulates lactation.

You don’t need to eat more when you are breastfeeding but I have noticed that when women start exercising or dieting the supply does drop. Whilst not evidence-based, I generally advise eating regularly throughout the day, a snack to go with each feed (and even during the night if you are hungry). Sadly studies have shown that drinking alcohol may actually reduce your supply!  Learn more here.

Finally, remember it’s early days and supply fluctuates. Next week you may be asking me how to freeze your excess breast milk!

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