Even though women have been supplying nourishment to their babies with breast milk since the beginning of time, the art of breastfeeding is a learned skill. Whether or not it has come easy for you, you may have questions along the way. The very best indication of your supply of milk is your baby himself. His weight gain, soiled diapers and contentedness should indicate whether he is being fed an adequate amount of breast milk. Depending on the length of time you've been nursing, it could take from several weeks to up to a year for milk to dry up completely. If you're not ready, however, there are methods to help with production so that you and your baby can enjoy nursing a while longer.
Check your baby's diaper, noting how often he has a wet diaper and how wet it is. You may find that he's drier than usual.
Place a warm washcloth over your breast and leave it in place for a few minutes. Remove the washcloth and gently squeeze your nipple to express milk. Make a mental note of the amount, if any, of milk that appears.
Bring your baby to your breast, allowing him to attempt to suckle. Watch his physical cues: he may wriggle around, fuss or cry as he tries to nurse. Offer him the second breast. If he takes either side, listen for evidence of swallowing milk; you can often hear hearty gulps as he drinks from full breasts. Make a note of how long he nurses.
Check your breasts with your hands. Softer, less full breasts may indicate a lowered milk production but this is not a definite sign.
- Try to remain as relaxed and positive as possible when attempting to nurse, if you suspect low milk issues.
- Breast milk is produced by supply and demand. If you suspect your supply may be drying up, offer your baby the breast more often to promote more milk production.
- Always take into account your baby's stage of growth; babies have spurts where they nurse more or less than at other times. Once she becomes more skilled at nursing, sessions become shorter yet more efficient. Your baby's speed at nursing does not necessarily indicate a low milk supply.
- Your supply of breast milk can be affected by a number of influences, such as dehydration, strenuous exercise or medication.
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