Introduction To Breast Feeding And Milk Supply
Breast feeding and milk supply are connected in a profound way. How you breast feed affects your milk supply and your milk supply will affect how you breast feed. It’s this “two-way street” aspect of breast feeding that many new moms struggle to understand and that’s what we’ll be talking about in this article.
The Law Of Supply And Demand
The law of supply and demand is an economic “law” that basically says that when there is a lot of supply of something it’s price will be lower and when something is rare the price will be higher. Gasoline prices fluctuate up and down due to the law of supply and demand. Ideally supply and demand should be roughly equal.
The same process is at work with breast feeding and milk supply. When there’s a lot of demand for the milk – meaning baby is breast feeding often - the body will work to produce more milk. The body’s goal is to match the amount of milk that’s being removed with the amount of milk that’s being created.
Breast Feeding Factors That Affect Milk Supply
There are many breast feeding factors that can affect milk supply. Let’s look at both increasing supply and decreasing supply.
Breast Feeding Factors That Decrease Milk Supply
- Poor latch – this leads to poor milk withdrawal and damaged nipples which cause milk to be stored for a long time which leads the body to think it’s over producing and should decrease milk supply
- Breast feeding on only one breast per breast feeding session. (This causes the breast that wasn’t breast fed on to go a long time before being drained – the longer milk stays in a breast the more likely the body will think it is over producing in that breast and begin to shut down milk supply there.)
- Going more than 4-6 hours between breast feeding sessions. Even during the night.
- Not completely removing the milk. This can be caused by a sleepy baby or a mom who is switching breasts before the first breast is empty.
Breast Feeding Factors That Increase Milk Supply
- Breast feeding on both sides every breast feeding session.
- Pumping both breasts immediately following a breast feeding session. When trying to increase breast milk supply it’s best to pump both breasts, following a breast feeding session until no more milk is flowing, then continue to pump for an additional 5 minutes. This additional pumping time, when the breasts are already empty, signals the body that the demand for the milk is higher than the current supply. The body should respond with increase milk supply.
- Breast feeding every 3 hours – as measured from the start of one breast feeding session to the start of the next one.
- Being sure to breastfeed at least once during the long stretch at night.
Other Things That Can Increase Milk Supply
- Staying well hydrated.
- Eating a sufficient amount of healthy calories each day – typically 500 additional calories are needed each day to produce breast milk. Dieting too hard and too early after giving birth can affect milk supply.
- Taking an herbal supplement that increases breast milk supply. A recent study has shown Lactiful Supply Max to increase milk supply in 75% of women struggling with making enough milk. The average increase was 14.8 ounces of additional breast milk per mom per day. Read more about Lactiful Supply max here.