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Ask a Doc – Breast Milk Supply with Alene K. Yeater, M.D.

Question: I plan to breastfeed when my baby is born this fall. However, I am concerned that I may not produce enough breast milk. Is there anything that I can do to ensure a plentiful supply?

Answer: Congratulations on your upcoming arrival! I also commend you for wanting to provide the best possible nutrition for your baby’s health. Human breast milk contains the ideal combination of vitamins, protein, fat and antibodies for your baby’s growth and development.

First, let me reassure you that in the majority of cases, the mother’s body has an amazing capacity to produce enough milk to meet her baby’s demands – even if she has twins! Breast size has very little effect on a mother’s ability to produce enough milk for her baby, although small-breasted women may find that they need to breastfeed more often since their capacity to store milk between feedings is reduced. Basically, the more your baby breastfeeds, the more milk will be produced to meet the demand.

It is common for new mothers to question the sufficiency of their breast milk supply because, unlike formula in a bottle, you cannot see the amount of breast milk being consumed. The Hospital staff and your pediatrician will closely monitor your newborn baby’s growth and development. As long as your baby is healthy and within the normal range of development, you can be sure that your body is producing a plentiful supply of breast milk. To help meet the nutritional goals needed for breastfeeding, you should consume an extra 450 to 500 calories each day and continue taking your prenatal multivitamin supplement. Drinking plenty of fluids also is important for adequate hydration.

Using a method called “Kangaroo Mother Care” (allowing the mother and baby to bond skin-to-skin immediately after delivery) and initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of life are important first steps toward promoting adequate breast milk production. It also is important to understand that frequent effective breastfeeding, at least 8 to 12 times every 24 hours, is the best way to achieve a sufficient milk supply.

It is rare that a mother’s body is incapable of producing enough milk for her baby. If your pediatrician determines that your baby is not receiving enough nutrition, the problem is more likely caused by other factors, such as:
• Insufficient maternal nutrition
• Insufficient maternal hydration
• Infrequency of breast stimulation with nursing or pumping
• Mother’s use of tobacco products
• Mother’s alcohol consumption
• Mother’s rapid weight loss
• Mother’s use of hormonal birth control (pills, patches or injections)
• Mother’s use of certain medications (such as cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine)
• Jaundice in the newborn baby (or other condition that suppresses appetite)
• Baby’s use of a pacifier (which fulfills the baby’s desire to suck)

If you encounter any problems with breastfeeding, I urge you to speak to your physician or midwife or contact the Outpatient Lactation Clinic at Licking Memorial Hospital (LMH) before you give up because the benefits of breast milk for you and your baby are so important! Babies who receive breast milk exclusively (meaning no formula, juice or water supplements) for the first six months of life have a lower risk of allergies and asthma, and they experience fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and cases of diarrhea. Breastfeeding also decreases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Additionally, benefits for mothers who breastfeed include faster return of the uterus to its normal size with less postpartum bleeding, assistance with postpartum weight loss, lower rates of breast cancer and ovarian cancer than women who do not breastfeed, and a reduced risk of heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Breastfeeding also saves time and money!

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 75 percent of new mothers start out breastfeeding, but only 13 percent are still breastfeeding exclusively by their baby’s sixth month. Unfortunately, many mothers quit breastfeeding when they encounter a problem, not realizing that help is available.

The Outpatient Lactation Clinic is located on LMH’s second floor. New mothers who have questions about breastfeeding are welcome to call the Clinic at (220) 564-4334 to speak to an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. You are not required to be a Licking Memorial Health Systems patient to call the Clinic with questions about breastfeeding.

Congratulations again!

| Posted On : 8/12/2014 9:55:10 AM