Mythbusters: Milk Supply

milk-bottles

If I give my baby formula my milk supply will decrease. If your baby needs more milk than you can provide, you will have to supplement with donor milk or formula. The product itself does not cause a drop in milk production! Milk supply is determined primarily by milk removal. Make sure that you are regularly (about 8 times/day) removing milk from your breasts by breastfeeding or pumping.

Drinking lots of water will increase my supply. It is important to replenish all the fluids that are leaving your body. If you are dehydrated, your body cannot perform optimally—and that includes the manufacture of milk for your baby. But if you are already hydrated, drinking additional water will not produce more milk. I usually urge my clients to have a glass of water every time they breastfeed.

If I eat certain foods, I will make better milk. All mammals make species-specific milk. In other words, mouse milk is unique to mice, goat’s milk is unique to goats and human milk is unique to humans. A mother cow makes milk that is exactly right for her calf and mother dog makes milk that is perfect for her puppies. You don’t have to worry at all if your milk is right for your baby. It’s perfect! Human diets vary all over the world, but human milk remains remarkably consistent. There is some variability (your milk is unique!), but the nutrients remain stable. Even mothers who are severely undernourished make high-quality milk—but they often struggle with supply.

If my baby doesn’t breastfeed in the first 3 days, my milk won’t come in. The hormones produced during your pregnancy (namely, progesterone) inhibit milk production. The moment your placenta leaves your body, the progesterone levels drop and milk production begins Even if you weren’t planning to breastfeed, your milk would still “come in.” If your baby nurses frequently in those first few days, however, your milk will most likely come in sooner. In addition, early breastfeeding “places the order” for your baby’s future caloric needs. More breastfeeding = more milk!

Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC. Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations. Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com

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