Latching on, low milk supply, when enough is enough!
With August recognized as National Breastfeeding Month, it is important for new moms to understand how to overcome common barriers to breastfeeding, and what to expect when preparing to breastfeed for the first time.
Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months has been shown to have benefits for the infant and mother. A thirty-year study from Kaiser Permanente showed that women who breastfed for six months or more across all births had a 47 percent reduction in their risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not breastfeed at all. While there are many benefits, many mothers have challenges at the start of their breastfeeding journey.
“Breastfeeding is not always easy, and it doesn’t always work as we’d like, but when moms can settle into it – it is very rewarding,” said Lois Watts, MPH, and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California.
Most common concerns for new mothers breastfeeding for the first time include latching, producing too much milk or not enough, diet, and understanding the infant’s feeding cues. Lactation Consultant, Lois Watts, who has been helping moms for 32 years as a lactation consultant, shared some answers to the most common questions mothers new to breastfeeding have.
Q: What should I do if my baby doesn’t latch right away?
While many babies latch shortly after delivery, not all babies are able or ready to do so. To encourage latching:
Place baby skin to skin to provide opportunities throughout the first day for baby to latch. If after several attempts the baby is unable to latch, then manually express your colostrum or request a breast pump to stimulate your body until the baby is able to feed. Any milk obtained can be fed back to the baby. If the nipple shape or pliability is affecting baby’s ability to latch, request help from the Registered Nurse or Lactation Consultant to use appropriate tools to address this.
Q: What should I avoid while breastfeeding?
There are many myths when it comes to foods and breastfeeding.
Generally, it is important to know the allergy history for both parent’s and their families. Observe the baby if any of those foods are consumed. A diet rich in good protein sources, whole grains, lots of veggies & fruits is recommended. Also, hydration is important, especially in the warmer, dryer months.
Q: Is it normal to have uneven milk supply?
Yes, it is very normal to have breasts that produce different amounts of milk.
Try to use both breasts to feed (not favoring the one that is the better producer – this will just exacerbate the situation). If the difference is marked, then some extra pumping on the lower producing side might help but may not fix the problem entirely.
Q: How can I increase my milk supply?
It is important to work with a trained lactation professional to asses if the supply concerns are perceived or real.
Q: My baby seems to eat all day; how do I know when I am overfeeding?
Once a baby is approximately 3-4 weeks old, he/she will consume somewhere between 25-30oz of milk per day.
First, I would check that there is sufficient milk. A mom with a borderline low supply may have a baby who wants to “feed all day”. A lactation consultant who provides Test Weights can work with you to determine how much the baby is transferring during feedings. A test weight is the process of weighing your baby before and after breastfeeding.
These are all normal concerns for new moms who plan to breastfeed, but these concerns can be overcome with good support, the right tools, and perseverance.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.3 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: https://about.kaiserpermanente.org/