Low milk supply seems to be a main concern for today's breastfeeding mother. I do remember mothers asking, "how will I know that my baby is getting enough?" and, "how much milk does my baby need?" back when my first child was born (19 long years ago). The difference I suppose was that we were satisfied with the answers we were given and we never pumped to see how much our body was presumably making. We relied on observing our baby. Today's mother seems to want more answers and to know exactly how much milk she is making. Here is a brief overview of Low Milk Supply.
When should we be concerned that our milk supply might be low?
What can cause a low milk supply?
*Note that the majority of maternal issues would be present from the onset of the breastfeeding relationship.
What can we do?
With any of these concerns the first step would be to work with an experienced Health Care Provider (HCP). This can be your OB/GYN, Pediatrician and/or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Who you work with depends on which issue you are dealing with. While seeking out a professional who can assist you and working on a care plan you will want to:
Ways to Increase Milk Supply
There are many great Low Milk Supply Resources. Following is a list of just a few:
If you have questions or concerns about your milk supply we will be happy to meet and discuss those concerns with you either prenatally or after baby arrives. www.TheMILCGroup.com 210-960-MILC/210-960-6452
Ginger and I are so blessed to meet a huge variety of women in all stages of their breastfeeding journey. We are proud and humbled to be able to support them and to hopefully provide them some guidance along the way. Today I was reminded of something so very important. Breastfeeding is so much more than feeding at the breast.
Let me back up to say that having a baby is hard! Getting pregnant for some women is a huge undertaking. Many women wait years to see those two lines appear on the pregnancy test while others are lucky on the first try. What I have found during my time working with women who are breastfeeding or trying to breastfeed is that if getting pregnant was a challenge then they are hoping that the labor will be easy. If the labor is a struggle or doesn't go as expected then they hope that breastfeeding goes better. Many women arrive at the beginning of their breastfeeding journey with all of their hopes pinned on this going well.
I was once attending the birth of a client who had struggled to get pregnant with her first baby. Her doctor recommended an induction of labor and she and her husband had agreed. During the induction her water broke on its own. I remember the joy she showed that something had happened on its own and that she wasn't "broken." It was so eye-opening to see her joy in something that many women take for granted.
Today while working with a lovely first time mother and her baby she spoke of her birth experience and described it as "traumatic." I voiced for her what I have witnessed, that when a mother's birth experience doesn't go as planned breastfeeding often becomes more important. She was choked up while she nodded her head in agreement.
It is difficult for loved ones to understand. So often we hear loving partners, friends and relatives telling a mother whose birth did not go as planned that, "at least you have a healthy baby." Yes she has a healthy baby but is she ok? Is she emotionally ok? So many mothers have their feelings discounted because their baby is "healthy" and so what more can she ask for.
Why can't she ask for more? Why is it not alright for her to want an easy pregnancy, a smooth birth and a perfect postpartum experience? There is no reason that she can not ask for that. We should help to support her at whatever point along the way that we encounter her.
This brings me back to Ginger and I and to her breastfeeding experience. Breastfeeding is so much more than just feeding at the breast. Breastfeeding is love. Breastfeeding is comfort for the mother and baby. Breastfeeding is about bonding. Breastfeeding is about empowerment and seeing our baby growing from the food that we provide. Breastfeeding is about our experience as mothers.
The next time that you hear a mother speak of her struggles with fertility or her traumatic birth experience I hope that you will provide support and when she gets to the part about breastfeeding....remain a positive voice. Support her. Love her. Provide her with resources if she needs them and above all else honor her experience.
Last summer Ginger and I had the pleasure of attending a wonderful workshop at the Texas La Leche League Conference. We attended the daytime session led by Jaye Simpson, IBCLC and thoroughly enjoyed hearing in-depth information on "Structure and Function" as it relates to the anatomy of the infant and what could be contributing to breastfeeding difficulty. That evening we attended a hands-on clinical session where we observed techniques and put them to work evaluating an infant. We attended many other wonderful sessions in lactation education; however, the sessions taught by Jaye had the most impact on our work. I would say that this information was so empowering and helped us to become even more confident in our evaluations of infants during our lactation consultations.
This knowledge coupled with our years of additional training and experience would lead me to say that here in San Antonio we may be the lactation consultants doing the most thorough examinations of babies and catching oral and physical issues that other practitioners miss. This may be because they are either rushed through visits (often not by choice when the practitioner works in a hospital with limited time resources) or because they lack the extensive training that we have received. Ginger and I continue to seek out courses that further our education and we are excited to team up with other lactation professionals in Central Texas to educate ourselves more fully on how different practitioners working together can get a baby nursing more effectively, gaining weight better and nipping (no pun intended) oral or physical issues in the bud before they effect a baby's later development.
On our website www.TheMILCGroup.com we have compiled a short list of wonderful resources for parents who are seeking information regarding a possible tongue tie, lip tie or other oral issue in their baby. We include practitioners who our clients have found helpful as we want all of our clients to have the best possible experiences. We do suggest that parents seek out the guidance of a lactation professional to help them to decide what kind of practitioner will best serve their needs.
If you suspect that your baby has an oral issue and would like to meet with us for a full evaluation you can contact us by phone at 210-960-MILC/210-960-6452.
For those parents not located in San Antonio, South Texas or the surrounding areas, we suggest that you seek out the support of your local La Leche League Leader or IBCLC to find resources to assist you with your breastfeeding issues. We are always happy to support families who are not located near to us in finding the support that they need.
Human milk sharing has been around most likely since the beginning of time. When women died in childbirth another woman would step in to breastfeed her child. When one woman was away from her child another would breastfeed that baby in a sort of informal shared parenting agreement. There were no bottles or breastpumps. Other cultures still share breastmilk with each other as a way to survive. Even here in the United States situations can arise where mothers are unable to provide breastmilk to their baby themselves but wish for their baby to receive the nutrition of breastmilk and so they enter into some sort of human milk sharing.
There are two basic types of human milk sharing. Those are formal and informal milk sharing.
Here at The MILC Group we as International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) uphold very strict health standards. We promote breastfeeding and support mothers in reaching their breastfeeding goals. We provide information and resources. However, we do not facilitate milk sharing or act as a go between for mothers. There are risks to milk sharing. A great discussion of these risks can be found in this article, Milk sharing and formula feeding: Infant feeding risks in comparative perspective? by Karleen D. Gribble and Bernice L. Hausman.
~Tina & Ginger