If you're new to breastfeeding, then it's only natural to have a million questions about the whole process. For instance, how do you know the signs that you don't have a low milk supply? Plenty of breastfeeding newbies wonder about supply from time to time.
For starters, it's important to remember that most breastfeeding people do produce an adequate supply.
"Many people think they have low milk supply, when in fact they have a normal supply," Briana Violand, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) with Northcoast Lactation & Sleep Services, LLC, tells Romper.
Still, if you're concerned about milk supply, then definitely reach out to health experts for help.
"Please see your baby’s pediatrician or IBCLC if you have any doubt about breastfeeding and/or if your baby is not gaining weight appropriately," says Violand. It's even a good idea to have a similar meeting prenatally. Health conditions such as truly inverted nipples, insufficient glandular tissue in the breasts, breast surgeries, spinal cord injuries, and possible hormonal issues can lead to milk supply problems, as Violand further explains.
Plus, even if you do wind up having milk supply issues, many breastfeeding options are still available.
"Breastfeeding doesn't have to be all or nothing," Danielle Downs Spradlin, IBCLC and CLC with Oasis Lactation Services, tells Romper. Spradlin is also a licensed Neonatal Oral-Motor Assessment Scale (NOMAS) and Blomberg Rhythmic Movement Training (BRMT) professional.
"Parents can learn techniques, work with their healthcare team, and learn safe supplementation strategies if needed," Spradlin adds. Supplementation, human donor milk, and even dry nursing are options for many families, she explains.
1. You're Feeding The Baby On Demand
The baby asks for a meal, and you supply the milk. This usually means feeding the baby around 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period, says Violand, and it's a positive sign in terms of your supply.
2. Baby Is Content After Feeding
As long as your baby seems pretty happy after meal times, then there's probably enough milk, as Violand says.
3. Adequate Diaper Output
It may not be the prettiest sight, but it's another way to track your kiddo's food intake and breast milk supply, says Violand. This is something you can track in a breastfeeding log, as explained in Romper. Make your own on paper, or download an app for the same purpose.
4. Baby Is Gaining Weight Appropriately
As long as your "baby is gaining weight appropriately on your breastmilk alone," then the supply is probably fine, as Violand says. Violand also recommends getting a weight check from your IBCLC or pediatrician.
5. You Have Adequate Breast Stimulation
Breast stimulation is an important part of breastfeeding, as Spradlin explains. You can even learn how to massage your breast to produce more milk, as noted in Romper. Some self-touching, or a little help from a partner, can help keep things flowing.
6. You Nurse Frequently
Frequent nursing is another sign of fine milk supply, says Spradlin. How often? "Starting with your infant’s second day and throughout the next few days, it will be important to aim to nurse 8 to 12 times (or even more) in 24 hours — both day and night — in order to stimulate milk production," according to La Leche League International. There aren't any hard and fast rules in this area, so ask your pediatrician or IBCLC for personalized advice.
7. Your Baby Has A Great Latch
Babies who nurse with a great latch also tend to have a fine supply of milk, according to Spradlin. If this or any other point is causing you concern, then don't hesitate to talk it over with your pediatrician or IBCLC. For the most part, though, the signs you're producing enough breast milk for the baby mean things are working out well.