One of the most common reasons for giving up breastfeeding is: I didn't have enough milk. He was always hungry.
In the short term this may be true, but there are things you can do to increase your supply to satisfy your child or children. Mothers are able to successfully breastfeed twins/multiple babies so it must be possible! Fair enough if you're physically too tired to be able to do the necessary to increase supplies, and lack of sleep reduces milk anyway, but if you're determined and able then it can be done. Also talk to the right people to get support. This does not necessarily mean doctors and midwives, but people specifically trained in this area, ie breastfeeding support workers in the National Childbirth Trust. There will be someone local to you.
Try these things to increase your milk. It will take about 24-48 hours to have an effect, then you have to keep using the extra supply to maintain it.
- Skin to skin contact with Baby. The more you keep baby next to your breasts, the more milk your body will make.
- Put Baby to the breast as often as you can. Every half an hour if you like. The more you do, the more milk you will make.
- Express milk. Use a breast pump. And even if nothing is coming out, keep going. You will only make more milk on demand. If you don't ask your body for it, it won't come.
- If you do use formula sometimes, get your partner or a willing helper to feed Baby, while you express. If you feed formula and don't express, you're not going to make that extra feed Baby needs. It will only come if you ask for it.
- Put Baby on one breast and express from the other. This often makes expressing easier.
- Express from both breasts at the same time. Try a double pump.
- Express in the small hours of the morning, especially if Baby has formula at this time. This is the time which most stimulates milk production. Sad but true. Yes, I know you'll be exhausted. I've done it myself and couldn't keep it up for long but you don't have to. Once your supplies have increased, keep breastfeeding Baby and the supplies will stay at that level, and increase when Baby needs more.
- Try a herbal supplement. Fenugreek is supposed to help increase milk supplies. It works by making sweat glands (the nipple works in a similar way) more productive. So you smell for a couple of days!! but once supplies have increased you stop taking the capsules. I have tried them and in about 24 hours there appears to be an increase.
Finally, you can't beat rest and sleep for milk production. Oh, wouldn't a couple of extra hours every night be nice!!!
This guide has all been written through personal experience. We (partners play a very important supporting role in breastfeeding) have breastfed 3 babies in the last 3 years. Number 3, Sarah, refused to feed for the first 2 months so she had expressed milk in a bottle. Suddenly she decided to breastfeed and continued to feed happily, solely on breastmilk until 5 months old.
I would be happy to discuss any of the suggestions or issues raised here. Alternatively, if you have ideas to add, get in touch.
And most of all, GOOD LUCK!!