One of the most common concerns that breastfeeding mothers share is whether their babies are getting enough milk. Unlike formula – and unless you’re pumping -- breast milk production cannot be accurately measured, so nursing mothers may wonder whether their babies are receiving an adequate amount of nutrition. If your baby is losing weight, or seems to still be hungry or unsatisfied after a breastfeeding session, you may need to increase your milk supply.
The more you breastfeed, the more milk you will produce, so one of the most effective ways to increase your milk supply is to encourage frequent feedings. According to DrSears.com, you should breastfeed your newborn every two hours during the day. If your baby sleeps for longer than four to five hours at night, wake her up for an extra feeding.
Encourage Longer Sessions
Some babies will nurse for a few minutes and fall asleep, while others will nurse until they “empty” the breast and then continue what DrSears.com refers to as “comfort sucking.” To enhance your milk supply, encourage longer feedings with skin-to-skin contact and sling feedings, and try switch nursing. This involves allowing your baby to nurse until his suck and swallow reflex diminishes, and then switching him to the other side. This wakes him up a little and encourages him to nurse more vigorously. Once his sucking diminishes again, switch him back to the other side to empty the breast.
Avoid Pacifiers and Bottles
Don't give your baby pacifiers or bottles. Only allow your baby to suck at the breast. Allowing your baby to suck from a bottle or on a pacifier will satisfy your baby’s sucking prematurely and diminish his need to feed at the breast. If you must supplement with formula, try alternatives to bottles such as a spoon, cup or nursing supplementer, a device that allows a baby to receive extra milk at the breast instead of through a bottle.
If you have attempted to increase your milk supply on your own, but still have concerns that your baby isn’t receiving adequate nutrition, ask your obstetrician or child’s pediatrician for the name of a certified lactation consultant. These consultants are trained to help mothers who are new to breastfeeding and can ensure that your baby is latching on and sucking effectively. These consultants also can put you in touch with a support group, such as a La Leche League group, that can offer breastfeeding advice and guidance.