Lactation consultants know that perceived low milk supply is the most common reason moms start supplementing with formula, and then ultimately give up breastfeeding altogether. While the actual percentage of moms that wean early due to Perceived Insufficient Milk (PIM) is tough to pin down – estimates range from 35-80% – milk supply appears to be the top concern of breastfeeding moms around the globe. Lactation consultants also know that the more information that you have about breastfeeding before your baby arrives, the better the chance that milk supply concerns won’t be the reason you stop breastfeeding. Seeking out breastfeeding resources and support during pregnancy can go a long way in building the confidence you need to get through some of the potential challenges of breastfeeding.
Several studies show that moms gauge their milk supply by watching their infant’s behavior. If your baby seems unsatisfied after a feeding, or wants to feed frequently, you might tend to think that your milk supply is too low to meet the nutritional needs of your baby. It is important to remember that occasional fussiness after feeding is common and has many different causes, and frequent feeding is normal behavior for infants. But, if you already have low confidence in your ability to make milk, an unhappy baby can be especially distressing, and you might feel that supplementing with formula is necessary, which can very quickly undermine your entire breastfeeding plan.
Before you deliver, be sure to meet with a lactation consultant so that she can measure your confidence with evaluation tools, such as The H&H Lactation Tool, Breastfeeding Personal Efficacy Beliefs Inventory (BPEBI), Infant Feeding Intentions scale. Scoring on the tools helps your lactation consultant find areas where you may struggle and allows you to talk about those concerns before your baby is born. It’s important to talk to your lactation consultant about your concerns, even before your baby is born because the highest rate of weaning between is between 1 and 4 weeks. So have a plan of action before you deliver. Need more convincing? A 2001 study showed 64% of moms that weaned before 4 weeks did so due to low confidence in her milk supply.
Keeping your milk supply strong is a matter of emptying your breasts completely and often, usually every 2-3 hours. For more help in boosting supply, herbal supplements can help. Fenugreek is the supplement most often recommended by lactation consultants. Milkies Nursing Blend has a unique mix of herbal ingredients, including fenugreek, to support milk production.
Keys to breastfeeding success:
- See your lactation consultant in your 8th or 9th month of pregnancy. Talk about your milk supply concerns and how to manage the early weeks of breastfeeding.
- Take a breastfeeding class with your partner. Moms that take a breastfeeding class with a partner are 71% more likely to reach her breastfeeding goals.
- Be ready with effective products. About 80%, experience nipple pain. Have Milkies Nipple Nurture Balm on hand to sooth and protect your nipples. If you are heading back to work and planning to store milk, have Milkies Milk Trays or Milkies Breastmilk Storage Bags ready to use.
- Learn your baby’s hunger cues. Usually your baby will put a fist in her mouth or turn toward your breast when hungry. Crying is a late hunger cue and can delay feeding until your baby can settle down.
- Avoid supplementing with any liquids or pacifiers and put your baby to breast frequently.
Breastfeeding isn’t easy, and in the early weeks it is easy to get discouraged. Set yourself up for breastfeeding success before your baby arrives. You will have the answers and products you need to make it through the rough spots and then sail smoothly to your breastfeeding goal.