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Low Supply is a Mythical Creature (illustrated with cute monkeys)

by meggf (follow)
Breastfeeding (16)     
Breastfeeding is becoming a lost art, drowning in the myths of formula culture. The majority of women set out planning to breastfeed but they encounter so many hurdles, misguided support, and misinformation that their journey ends before it can really begin. This article will put together a summary of the problems to make it easier for mothers and families to establish breastfeeding by seeking out real information.

The early days of breastfeeding are a big learning curve for mother and baby. Feeding is instinctive for babies but they still need mum to help with positioning. Itís very important to pay attention to position and latch, there are some great diagrams available on line to show how it should be. Getting position and latch right can help reduce discomfort significantly.

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At birth there is a hormone influx, it helps with bonding and making milk, but ironically it can also result in sore nipples. The pain takes a fortnight to settle but once it does breastfeeding is generally easy. Often people think they are helping if they offer the baby a bottle. Bottles can temporarily ease the pain but few babies successfully feed from their mother after bottles are introduced. Breastfeeding grief is common and itís almost always the result of poor information and support. For advice on supporting a breastfeeding relationship please see HERE .

Low supply is VERY RARE. Less than 1% of women experience genuine low supply. The main signs of low supply are poor growth, and a lack of wet / dirty nappies. Watch your baby carefully and if no signs of low supply occur you can safely assume that you are making enough milk.

When a woman thinks she has low supply she might pump to increase it, but pumping does not drain milk from the breast effectively so it is a poor stimulant. When she doesnít pump much she thinks she isnít making enough milk. Each time the baby is given a bottle of pumped or artificial milk the breasts lose an opportunity for stimulation. Itís a self fulfilling prophecy because bottle feeding will eventually damage supply but it is often initiated because of poor information.

Women often worry that their new baby is hungry before their milk comes in but a newbornís stomach is the size of a walnut. Babies drink colostrum until their motherís milk comes through and do not need artificial milk, colostrum is a crucial part of developing immunity.

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Breastfed babies feed frequently because breastmilk is perfect for digestion. It is a myth that breastfed babies sleep poorly at night. Waking at night for food is normal behaviour and all babies, no matter how they are fed, wake at night. Babies struggle to digest formula so when formula is given to a baby and the baby doesnít need to feed as often itís wrongly assumed that the mother has poor supply.

Bottle feeding is passive, a baby does not need to suck to get the liquid in their mouth, swallowing is instinctive, so the milk pours into the babyís mouth and is swallowed because the baby can not STOP themselves from drinking it. Taking a bottle after a breastfeed is NOT a sign of low supply, however babies are clever little creatures and can come to prefer bottles because they are easier, thus developing a preference for bottles and rejecting the breast.

Another factor that can play havoc with a breastfeeding relationship is a tongue tie. Getting it diagnosed can be difficult because many health care providers wonít recognise one. So if you suspect tongue tie, keep hunting until you find someone that actually listens to you before you decide once and for all whether itís a tie or not. There are lots of photos of ties online, so thatís a good place to start your research. A tongue / lip tie will cause extreme nipple pain and the baby will have poor growth. Itís easy to see how this can be blamed on poor supply.

If you seek professional advice be sure to ask them what their qualifications are. Doctors, nurses, and midwives are not always good sources, in fact often theyíre downright terrible! If you want professional advice the best source is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Be sure to question whoever gives you advice about their qualifications before implementing their advice. Poor professional advice has stolen many breastfeeding relationships.

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There are lots of wonderful sources of information for breastfeeding, itís just a matter of weeding out the poor ones. If you mean to feed your baby full term it pays to ensure that you are surrounded by well informed, genuinely supportive people in the early days. Low supply can be a problem, but more often than not the problem is the quality of information and support that mothers have access to. Letís eradicate the myth of low supply!

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