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Not Enough Breast Milk?

By Charles Hopkins Published 01/2/2008 | Parenting
If you are a breastfeeding mother, I'm sure you've been asked this question before, "do you have enough milk?" This concern of having inadequate milk supply has been the reason why many mothers give up breastfeeding. Some mothers get discouraged even before the baby comes out when they receive comments such as "your breast are so small, I don't think you'll produce enough milk."

Although it may be true that some mothers simply can't produce enough milk to meet the baby's needs, experts say true insufficiencies of milk are very rare. Just because you've lost the feeling of fullness in your breasts or your milk doesn't leak from your nipples like it used to, doesn't mean you are experiencing low milk supply. It could very well be your baby is having a growth spurt and therefore emptying your breasts more than before or your body has adjusted to your baby's milk intake.

How do you know if you have adequate milk supply? You don't have to pump your milk out to measure if you have enough. The amount of milk you pump out is not a good indicator of how much milk your body is producing. Instead, check to see if your baby is gaining weight properly. Also, if your baby produces 5-6 wet diapers a day, you don't have to worry about your milk supply. It's good. A contented and alert baby is another good indicator.

There are circumstances that may cause a mother's milk supply to diminish:

1. Not feeding baby often enough. This may be due to nipple pain, poor latch on technique or scheduled feeds instead of feeding on demand.
2. Taking birth control pills containing estrogen.
3. Smoking, drugs or drinking alcohol.
4. Feeling stressed out.
5. Falling ill.
6. Supplementing baby with formula milk.

The best way to remedy a low supply of breast milk is to increase the number of direct feeds. Direct feeding helps your milk supply better then pumping. Nursing is a supply and demand process. The more baby sucks, the more milk your body will produce. Night feeds are especially important. Your body produces the most milk at night.

Many mothers also recommend milk-boosting herbs such as fenugreek. They come in the form of tablets, tea and tinctures. Asian mothers also believe papaya soup can help increase milk supply.

A low supply of breast milk is more often than not a mental problem. If you are really worried and are struggling with your breastfeeding, try to locate a lactation consultant. The La Leche League is also a popular choice among breastfeeding mothers. The support and proper advice you get from these breastfeeding experts may be the key to your successful breastfeeding journey.