Monday, September 14, 2009

Insufficient Milk Supply

I get a lot of calls from mothers with a wide variety of problems: sore nipples, poor latch, baby's weight gain etc. But one of the most frequent calls I get goes something like this:

Mom: "I'm not making enough milk for my baby."
Me: "What makes you think that?"
Mom: "He's hungry after he nurses, and still needs another ounce of formula after we nurse."

At this point, I find out the baby's age (varies) and how often the baby is nursing (often less than 8 times per 24 hours). I also ask if she has PCOS or a thyroid condition. I find out if she has recently started taking birth control or gone back to work. Any of these situations can have a negative impact on milk supply.

Based on the information she gives me, I make one or more of the following suggestions:

- Make sure you nurse every 2 1/2 to 3 hours during the day. Count your time from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next. You should have a minimum of 8 feeds every 24 hours. If you're trying to increase supply, 9 or 10 times might be even better. Sometimes going to bed for 24-48 hours with your baby and nursing as often as she wants helps. Make sure you've got somebody feeding YOU and taking care of YOU!

- If you are using a breastpump, try renting a hospital grade pump for a couple of weeks to get the stimulation you need.

- Be sure you're getting enough rest. When your baby is asleep, you need to rest, not do laundry! Also be sure to get at least 2400 calories and enough fluids so that you aren't thirsty.

- Certain foods help increase supply. They are called galactagogues. Oatmeal, Brewer's Yeast and Ovaltine are a few common foods that can help increase your supply.

- Herbal galactagogues can also be very helpful. Motherlove More Milk Plus has fenugreek, blessed thistle, nettle leaf and fennel in an extract form. It often makes a difference within 48 hours. It is important not to eat or drink anything 20 minutes before or after you take it, though, for maximum absorption. Moms with PCOS or thyroid conditions benefit from More Milk Special Blend which also contains Goats Rue to help with the development of milk-producing tissue.

- Use a Lact-aid nursing trainer to increase the amount of milk your baby gets at the breast. More effective suckling will help you produce more milk.

- Two drugs are often used to increase milk supply: Reglan (metaclopramide) and Domperidone. Both can have serious side effects, but both do increase supply successfully. I encourage each mother to talk with her doctor about these possible galactagogues.

If you have questions or concerns about your supply, the best thing you can do is contact your La Leche League leader or your lactation consultant. She is there for you!

1 comment:

  1. I knew there was a reason I crave rich, chocolatey ovaltine!