I am breastfeeding my 4-week-old baby girl, however I am also supplementing her feedings with formula as my milk supply is not adequate. (My baby sucks for long periods, sometimes an hour or more.) I would like to exclusively breastfeed her. How can I increase the volume of my breast milk?
I certainly sympathize with your situation, as it is far more common than you may realize for new mothers to be faced with unanticipated breastfeeding challenges. In fact, I often start out any discussion about breastfeeding by reminding parents that while breast milk is unrivaled as the best "food" for babies and breastfeeding is most certainly "natural"… it doesn't always come naturally to a new mom!
Whenever I hear new mothers express concerns about inadequate milk supply, I like to first make sure that this is in fact the case. In the first weeks of breastfeeding, some new moms are caught by surprise when their newborns want to nurse all the time, which is necessary for stimulating the milk supply to "come in" during that first week. Your baby's first growth spurt may also bring on an increase in her cries of hunger. It is therefore very important to enlist the advice of your pediatrician or another health professional that can help determine if your baby truly is getting enough to eat.
For those moms whose milk supply is not keeping up with their baby's demands, help can be received from a variety of sources:
- lactation consultants
- breastfeeding support groups and/or breastfeeding health professionals
Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that you get the support and guidance you need, and that your baby gets the proper nutrition she needs to grow and develop – whether it is from breast milk or formula.