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As a lactation expert, these are the most common questions I get from new mums that I meet during a home visit or a counseling session. To the question “Am I making enough milk”, my answer is YES, you are making enough milk for YOUR BABY. Most mothers can produce enough milk to meet the demands of their growing babies.
In a world where everything is based on quantity and calculations, it can be quite nerve-wracking to depend on breasts that have no markings to show what’s happening.
And if a baby is fussy between feeds, often the mother’s first reaction is to think she is not making enough milk.
But that’s not the case. A women’s body actually starts producing milk in the sixteenth week of gestation. This milk is suppressed in her body until the baby is born. Post birth, as soon as baby starts sucking on the breast, signals are sent to the brain to start producing milk. It’s a cycle — the more a baby sucks on the breast, the more signals are sent to her body to produce more milk.
As part of our practice in Rosewalk Healthcare, we encourage mums to breastfeed within the first few hours of birth. Also, read NIPPLE CONFUSION & NIPPLE SHIELDS – FACTS & FICTION EXPLAINED
The whole idea behind this is to encourage babies to start sucking as soon as possible and encourage mothers to learn to hold, touch and smell their babies. Because the presence, smell and sight of your baby helps in the stimulation of milk production.
And don’t worry, newborn babies are very smart and know what to do. They are born with a suckling reflex so as soon as you put a nipple, pacifier or a finger in their mouths, they know exactly what to do.
In the initial days, soon after birth, very small amount of milk comes out of the breast. This is known as colostrum and just teaspoons of this nutrient-dense portion is enough to fulfill your baby’s tiny stomach. Please understand that newborns have really small stomachs, almost the size of a marble on day one. On day three it increases to the size of a walnut and in two weeks it is the size of an egg.
Newborns nurse frequently because human milk is digested quickly.
It usually takes about 3-5 days for the Milk to “come in” or start flowing from a mother’s breast.
By week six, a mother’s body adapts and adjusts to her baby’s growing demands and breastfeeding is established.
But this journey from birth to the first six weeks is tough and full of doubts.
As soon as babies cry, nervous new mums associate crying with something negative.
But please remember that crying is a survival mechanism in babies. They cry for everything because that is how they communicate with us. So when a baby cries it’s not just because she’s hungry or thirsty. She could be crying because she needs a cuddle, or is too hot, or wants to be burped, or needs a nappy change, or is overtired and needs your help to settle down.
So instead of doubting yourself that whether you are making enough milk or not, my suggestion to all mothers is to try to understand your baby’s behavior. Understand the reasons for their cries.
HOW WILL I KNOW IF MY BABY IS GETTING ENOUGH MILK?
These are a few signs that will tell you that your baby is getting enough.
1. Wet and dirty nappies are a good indicator of how much milk your baby has taken. From 3-5 days onward, as milk comes in, your baby starts producing about 5-6 wet disposable diapers and 2-3 greenish transitional stools. From day 6 onwards, at least 3-5 yellow, loose stools, and at least 6-8 wet diapers.
2. Another clear indicator is weight gain. Once your milk supply increases day 5 onwards, expect your baby to gain weight.
3. Look at your baby. Your baby will appear healthy, will have good color, cheeks will be full, and will seem active and alert.
Even when babies are getting plenty of milk, mothers can be concerned about their milk supply. The feeding patterns for babies are very individual. Learn to get to know your baby. This will help you not only decipher her needs but also reduce postpartum depression and enhance bonding
Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynecology