Low Milk Supply
In the early days it is better to stay close to home so you can rest when your baby sleeps and so that you have time to get to know each other. This is nature’s way of giving you time to recover from the birth. Periods of skin-to-skin contact are absolutely vital and will actually stimulate you to produce the perfect amount of milk for your baby. If you are rushing around the chances are that you will not produce sufficient milk and its possible that your baby will not thrive.
I am worried that I don’t have enough milk. How can I check?
Clare Byam-Cook says
If your baby is happy, contented and gaining the correct amount of weight he is clearly getting plenty of milk and there is no reason to worry that you don't have enough milk. Even if your baby is not particularly happy and content, you should still not doubt your milk supply, providing he is gaining the right amount of weight. Instead, you should try to find out why he is unsettled – wind, colic or reflux being the most common causes.
Another simple way of checking your milk supply is to substitute several breast feeds with a bottle and then use the pump to see how much milk you can express at each feed compared with the amount he takes from the bottle.
Note: A very small number of mothers can never express any milk with a pump, even before a feed when they know their breasts are full. If you are one of these mothers, using a pump after a feed to see how much milk is left in the breasts is not an option as it will not give the right information and may even lead the mother to believe that she doesn’t have enough milk, when in fact she does.
If it becomes apparent that your milk supply is low, you should not feel discouraged and assume that this means that you need to start topping up with lots of formula milk. Instead, you should concentrate on making sure that you are resting as much as possible, maintaining a healthy diet and drinking plenty of fluids. You should also aim to feed your baby slightly longer and more frequently than usual. If none of this helps, it is worth consulting (preferably by word-of-mouth referral) a good breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant in your area to see whether they can offer any advice that may help.
Final note: if you get the point where neither your baby nor a breast pump can get enough milk out of your breasts for your baby to be happy, contented and gaining weight, you should not feel a failure if you start supplementing feeds with formula. This is a case of nature getting it wrong, rather than you not trying hard enough.