Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Milk Supply III

Ok, so you have a good latch and I gave you some general tips to follow when breastfeeding. Now we are on to producing milk and keeping up with your milk supply.

Making milk is all based on the supply and demand. Meaning you will make what ever is taken out of your breast. What happens is your milk comes in and it needs somewhere to go. If it does not go anywhere your body will not continue to produce milk. The more you let the milk out the more milk you will make. So if your baby is only feeding three times a day then you will make enough for your baby to eat only three times a day.

You can never use pumping as a measurement of how much your baby is getting. When you pump you are not able to get out of your breast everything that is in there. When the baby is at the breast and feeding our bodies produce hormones that stimulates the body to produce more milk. That is something a pump cannot do. Now moms can pump and feed their babies (That’s for another post at a later time).

To increase your milk supply you must make sure you empty your breast at each feeding. If your baby does not eat at the second breast, pump the milk out of the second side. Emptying your breast is VERY important. When the breast is empty this will also let you know that your baby is getting the best part of the milk – the hindmilk. Foremilk is the milk (typically lower in fat) available at the beginning of a feeding; hindmilk is milk at the end of a feeding, which has a higher fat content than the foremilk. So when the baby starts to feed, the beginning milk is like skim milk and gradually through the feeding the milk turns into whole milk. If you cut the baby short and do not let the baby feed until the breast is empty then the baby will only be getting the skim milk and not gain weight.

www.Kellymom.com has a great explanation of the foremilk and hindmilk

As the breast starts to empty, the fat globules begin to dislodge and move down the ducts (let-down facilitates this process). So the further into the feed, the higher the fat content of the milk, as more and more fat globules are forced out. The end result is that the milk gradually increases in fat as the feeding progresses.

Your breasts don't "flip a switch" at some arbitrary point and start producing hindmilk instead of foremilk. Instead, think of the beginning of a nursing session as being like turning on a hot water faucet.

The first water you get out of the tap isn't usually hot, but cold. As the water runs, it gradually gets warmer and warmer and warmer. This is what happens with the fat content in mom's milk - moms's milk gradually increases in fat content until the end of the feeding.

Since fat content is is directly related to the degree of emptiness of the breast, it is possible, depending upon nursing pattern, for fat content to be higher at the beginning of a particular feeding than it is at the end of some other feeding.

Now think about the hot water faucet again. If there is a long period of time before the faucet is used again, then you go through the "cold to hot" process once more, but if you turn the water on fairly soon after it was used then the water is either pretty warm or still hot, depending upon how long it's been since the faucet was last on.

This is how it works with mother's milk too - the longer the time between feedings, the lower the fat content at the beginning of the next feeding. If feedings are closer together, you're starting off with a higher fat content.

As a particular feeding progresses, fat content increases, milk volume and flow decrease, and milk synthesis speeds up. Because every baby varies in the amount of time it takes him to receive his fill of the higher-fat milk at the end of the feeding, it is important not to switch breasts while baby is actively nursing.

A good way to help your milk move along your breast is through massage. Start at the back of your breast close to your underarms and massage down towards your nipple. Do this before a feeding and during the feeding.

It is important to feed the baby or empty the breast frequently. So feeding 8-12x a day is very important the first months of life. This tells your body to make more milk. Try to let every meal for baby be at the breast. Giving expressed milk or formula tells your body that it doesn’t need to make more milk. I understand there are points when you are not near your baby during a feeding, so it is important to pump during that feeding. You have to keep your milk coming out as often as the baby is feeding to keep up the milk supply. Again, pumping is for another post some other time.

I hope I didnt confuse you.

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