Perceived low milk supply

Posted in Breastfeeding Information | Comments Off

Many parents are unaware of what ‘normal or typical’ newborn feeding and sleep patterns are and when their baby wants to feed more frequently than 3 or 4 hourly they come to the conclusion that the baby isn’t getting enough milk or the mother isn’t producing enough milk.  Human babies are meant to wake and feed often because:

  • Breast milk is species specific and is easily digested
  • A newborn’s stomach is small
  • Sleep cycles are about half as long as an adult and they have more REM (rapid eye movement) sleep enabling them to rouse easily to feed and be tended to by their parent
  • Every mother and baby dyad are unique and don’t comply with the ‘routines’ described by most books written by ‘sleep and parenting’ experts
  • Mothers have different storage capacities ie. each breast is able to hold a maximum volume of milk at any one time.  For mothers that have smaller storage capacities (not visible breast size), their babies may need to feed frequently around the clock

Outside sources can impact on the mother’s perception;

  • Non supportive comments from well meaning friends or family such as “are you still feeding that baby?”, “he can’t possibly be hungry” or “he’s just using you as a dummy” undermine a mother’s confidence and lead her to question whether she is making enough milk for her baby

Health care professionals can also give inaccurate and non-evidenced based advice such as “you need to stretch him out so he’ll feed better” or “don’t let him snack feed”. This can lead mothers to think their babies aren’t getting enough milk or feeding practices that will lead to a decrease in the mother’s milk supply.