Whether you're a new mom or a seasoned parenting pro,
often comes with its fair share of questions. Here are answers to
some common questions that mothers - new and veteran - may
How can I increase my milk supply?
Your milk supply is determined by the stimulation that your baby
provides while nursing. In other words, the more you breastfeed,
the more milk your body produces. So, if you seem to be producing
less milk than usual, you should simply try to feed your baby more
Stress or illness can temporarily decrease your supply. Drinking
lots of water and eating good, nutritious food can help. But also
try to take some time for yourself each day, even if it's only
for 15 to 30 minutes.
If your baby is less than 6 months old and you're away from
your little one for long stretches during the day (for
instance, at work), you may pump about every 3 hours to maintain
your supply. If necessary, you can store breast milk in the freezer
for 3-6 months. Make sure to put it in the freezer compartment of
your fridge that has a separate suction-sealed door.
If your milk supply still seems low and you're concerned,
you may want to talk to your doctor, your pediatrician, or a
If I wait to nurse, will my milk supply increase?
Actually, no - it's the opposite. Waiting too long to nurse
or pump can slowly
your milk supply. The more you delay nursing or pumping, the less
milk your body will produce because the overfilled breast sends the
signal that you must need less milk.
However, that doesn't mean that letting your baby sleep
through the night (usually around 3 months old) is going to hurt
your breastfeeding efforts. That just means that your body will cut
back on the number of feedings, which is fine because your baby no
longer needs to be fed all night long anyway. Cutting back on
feedings during the day, though, can lead to a decreased milk
supply over time.
I'm producing too much milk. What can I do?
Whereas some women may feel like they don't have enough
milk, others may feel like they're making too much. Some
mothers' bodies just produce more milk than their babies need.
Others overstimulate their breasts by pumping or expressing milk in
between feedings. If expressing or pumping to relieve
discomfort, stick to 20-30 seconds or less.
Sometimes nursing on one breast only during a feeding helps to
lesson your milk supply. Over time, you should notice your milk
supply and "let-down" (the milk ejection reflex) become
easier to handle.
Sometimes a woman's let-down is really strong and causes the
milk to shoot out into her baby's mouth, causing choking. You
can avoid this by gently breaking the suction when your milk starts
to let down, letting it spray into a towel, and then latch your
baby back onto your breast again once your milk flow has slowed.
Nursing your baby in a more upright position (head above the
breast) also may decrease the force of the let-down.
My baby favors just one breast. Is this OK?
Some babies may prefer one breast - maybe your nipple or areola
is larger on one side. But to keep up your milk supply in
breasts - and prevent painful engorgement in one - it's
important to alternate breasts and try to give each one the same
amount of nursing time throughout the day.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends offering
both breasts during each feeding for as long as infant remains on
the breast and alternating which breast you offer first for each
Some lactation specialists recommend nursing on one breast per
feeding and switching breasts from one feed to the next, especially
if oversupply is a problem. This allows a baby to drink more from a
single breast and get the
which is creamier and contains more calories than the
, which comes at the beginning of a feeding.
If your baby doesn't take one breast at all during a
feeding, just make sure to start the next feeding with that breast.
As long your baby is doing well and you're comfortable,
that's all that matters.
Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: March 2009
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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