- In This Feature
- Optimizing Breastfeeding
- What Are the Signs that My Body Is Making Milk?
- What Is Normal Engorgement?
- What if Normal Primary Engorgement Goes Untreated?
- What Is Abnormal Engorgement?
- How Do I Treat Engorgement?
- How Do I Build a Strong Milk Supply?
- Is There Anything That Will Interfere with My Milk Supply?
- The ABCs of Building a Milk Supply
Your body was made to nourish your baby. During pregnancy, your breasts prepare colostrum with the assumption that you will breastfeed your newborn. After birth, this early milk gradually evolves into mature breast milk. As this occurs, the decisions that you make influence the development of your future milk supply. In the first few weeks following birth, a breastfeeding mother can take concrete steps that will lead her toward a strong milk supply.
I recently had a home visit with Marla, who was concerned about her low milk supply. After meeting with her and her three-week-old son, Henry, I concluded that Marla's milk supply was indeed low. The cause of her trouble was clear; Henry was being cared for by a live-in baby nurse. This nurse had been keeping Henry with her during the night and for long periods during the day. Although he periodically breastfed, he was often pacified with artificial nipples and supplemented with formula bottles.
Marla was young, healthy, and capable of breastfeeding. Unfortunately, frequent separation from her baby and missed breastfeeding opportunities inadvertently gave her body the message that she did not intend to breastfeed, and Marla's initially strong milk flow slowed to a mere trickle.
With so many variables affecting a mother's milk supply, most new mothers are unaware that many of these variables are under their control. Had Marla understood that separation, pacifiers, and bottle-feeding would have a negative impact on her milk supply, she might have decided to keep Henry with her and breastfeed him more frequently so that her milk supply could fully develop.