Stop and think about the world and the thousands of years that mothers have delivered their babies and provided their own milk. Human milk has been the way the human race has survived from infancy to childhood when the child is able to eat the same foods as her family and community.
Scientists tell us that less than 1% of all women do not have the ability to produce a sufficient amount of milk. If this is true, why are there many women in America not producing enough milk? There is more than one answer to this question, but the key to producing plenty of milk may lie in the first six hours after delivery. In America our birth practices impact breastfeeding and milk production. Separating mother and baby at birth even for the few minutes it takes to assess the newborn can negatively impact breastfeeding and milk production.
With the delivery of your placenta, the drop in hormones triggers the full supply of milk to "come in". Another thing milk production relies on is milk coming out of the breasts.This signals the brain that this amount of milk is needed so produce that amount of milk again.
During the first two weeks after delivery your breasts are in the market research phase. They are "building the factory" for milk production. With the interferences that are inevitable during a hospital delivery and stay, your baby may be sleepy and not feed well. Let's say that your breasts have 1 ounce of milk in them when your baby feeds and your baby only drinks 1/2 ounce. Your breasts may only make 1/2 ounce for the next feed. In addition if your baby only feeds 6 times the first 24 hours instead of the necessary 10-12 times, the brain gets the message to only make enough milk for 6 feedings. If you or your baby only remove half of the milk you are producing, your brain will regulate the supply to match that amount. For some women milk production will start to decrease within 6 hours after deliver, if the milk/colostrum is not removed.
Here are some suggestions to help you get off to a good start with breastfeeding. This will help ensure that you will make plenty of milk for your baby or babies.
- Read all about Kangaroo Mother Care before delivery.
- Learn to hand express your milk before delivery.
- Request that your baby be placed on your tummy as soon as he is born.
- Stay skin to skin with your baby at least until he has his first breastfeed--at least 2 hours.
- Request your baby's assessment be done with your baby on your chest.
- If your baby does not feed within the 1st 2 hours, hand express your milk and spoon feed it to him.
- Offer the breast every 2 hours the first 24 hours or 10-12 times.
- If your baby does not breastfeed, hand express and spoon feed it to him.
Debbie Page, RN, IBCLC, CEIM