Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby! You’re obviously here because you’ve started breastfeeding and want to continue. Unfortunately someone told you that you have low milk supply or that your baby was still hungry after a full breastfeed. Or maybe due to the lack of information we get from our health care providers regarding breastfeeding you are doing your own research because you no longer want to give formula top ups. Whatever your reason, I’m glad you stopped by.
So you might have found yourself in a vicious cycle of supplementing with formula while breastfeeding and you’re looking for ways to get out of it. All I can say is GOOD ON YOU for recognizing that this wasn’t the end of your breastfeeding journey! I’m so glad you’re here to get yourself informed about breastfeeding. Hopefully I can provide some meaningful information that will help you succeed for as long as you choose to feed your baby.
Why does my baby cry even after a full breastfeed?
You may or may not have heard about the 4th trimester. No, don’t worry, you are not pregnant for an extra 3 months but your baby didn’t get the memo.
During the first 3 months of life, your baby is coming to terms with being out in the big wide world. They’ve gone from a place that is warm and dark and has lovely muffled sounds to being in a dry, cold, loud environment. They need their mothers close to comfort them, just like they have as they were growing in the womb.
There are a lot of changes happening within the mothers body also. Milk coming in, change in hormones, it’s a crazy time of life. Believe it or not but your babies fussiness is completely normal and if it seems like they just want to be attached to you, this too is completely normal. It’s actually a survival instinct your baby has to help bring your milk in.
Breast milk works on supply and demand. The more your baby takes out, the more your body will make. If you unlatch your baby and they cry, they may not be hungry, but they know they need to increase your supply for the next few weeks/months. Also known as cluster feeding. Cluster feeding is especially common during the late afternoon into the evening. Because of it being late in the day, this is when most people think their breasts are empty and baby must be hungry. This is not the case!
Some breastfeeding myths busted
Giving formula will help my baby sleep better – Formula is thicker than breastmilk and can make a baby feel fuller for longer however it is not a sure thing that you’re baby will sleep longer. Formula is more likely to cause stomach upsets for breastfed babies which could make them wake more.
Babies who breastfeed wake more during the night – The majority of babies who wake during the night not only do so out of hunger, but comfort. They wake in their beds all alone, they need their mother close to comfort them back to sleep. Babies who are solely on formula may take a dummy or pacifier and parents will get up during the night to put it back into their child’s mouth. This is no different to a baby who breastfeeds during the night.
Breastfeeding hurts – Although some pain and discomfort in the early days can be normal while your body gets use to feeding and hormonal changes, pain should not persist. If it does, your babies latch should be assessed by a qualified professional and also checked for ties. One of the common causes of an unsuccessful breastfeeding journey is pain and nipple damage caused by these issues. A good IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) will be worth their weight in gold.
Fussy baby = low supply – Babies will fuss at the breast for multiple reason and the first thought should not be low supply. Pain, illness, development leap, learning new skills, distractions, cluster feeding plus many more may cause your baby to fuss.
Pumping or expressing is an indication of supply levels – Many women can not pump or express a large amount of milk. You’re baby is the most efficient thing in the world at extracting milk from your body. If you express 30mls in 15 mins, your baby could latch immediately and get 150ml! Sounds crazy I know!
Not knowing how much milk they’re getting means they might not be getting enough – You never have to know how many mls of milk your baby is getting. As long as they are having a sufficient number of wet nappies per day then they are getting enough (The number of wet nappies varies with age)
Babies should not be breastfed to sleep – Breastfeeding to sleep is the biological norm. Breastfeeding is not only designed for nourishing a baby, breastfeeding is also for comfort, pain relief, increase/maintain supply.
Schedules – the difference between breastfeeding and formula feeding
When I left hospital with my son he had been in the special care nursery for a number of days where he was fed on a 3-hour schedule. I asked out of curiosity how often he should be fed and the nurse’s response was “Oh you’ll feed on demand.” Now if I hadn’t done all of my own independent research I would have continued on this 3 hour schedule, I would have had no idea what that meant! I’m sure most new mums wouldn’t either.
Babies who are formula fed can be fed on quite a strict schedule, there are no risks with doing this like there are with a breastfed baby.
Breastfeeding on a schedule can cause supply issues, especially in the early days. You also risk causing mastitis due to not draining the breast on a regular basis. Not feeding on demand could also cause a reduction in weight gain and dehydration issues in young babies.
How can I increase my milk supply?
You may increase your supply by following these steps:
- Latch your baby as often as they would like to
- Do not go more than 2-3 hours without feeding
- Alot of skin to skin contact with your baby – get comfy on the couch with your baby against your bare skin.
- Try to offer the breast to sooth your baby rather than a dummy or pacifier
- Try not to give in to the temptation of someone else giving your baby a bottle. By doing this you are missing the opportunity to have your baby on the breast and could also cause your baby to develop a preference for the bottle.
You’ve got this
I’m not going to lie, breastfeeding can be hard, exhausting work but if you can push through the first few weeks you will be so glad you persisted. Your body made that baby, it is designed to nourish him also. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise and don’t let them make you questions yourself and your choices.
Just remember, YOU’VE GOT THIS MUMMA xx