q What if it’s taking too long for my milk to come in?
a Many people are under the impression that your milk “coming in” is a magical moment the days after birth that lets us know, “Oh now baby is eating.” Colostrum, the first milk, also known as liquid gold, is in the pregnant body from the second trimester. If you’re experiencing issues with latching or baby’s weight, seek the support of a lactation consultant to help set a good foundation for stimulating milk production and removal. Get help from day one. Within 24 hours after birth, breastfeeding parents should be producing for eight feedings a day.
q What should I do if a doctor tells me my baby needs formula but I want to exclusively feed them my milk?
a Make sure you know why. There are different reasons supplementation may be needed. After getting an explanation, ask about a hospital grade pump or hand expression so baby gets the nursing parent’s milk. Ask for the IBCLC on staff to help walk you through how to use it. If that isn’t offered at your hospital, advocate for access another way. Your milk should always be the first choice and donor milk might be accessible, too.
q What is hand expressing and when should I do that?
a Hand expression is the process of manually removing milk from oneself. It can be done as early as in the third trimester to collect colostrum. It can be used within the first six hours postpartum if baby is not latching. It can also be used in place of a pump. Some people respond better to hand expression than a machine because of the skin-on-skin contact and oxytocin release.
q Is there such a thing as too much pumping?
a Yes! If you are nursing on demand, baby is latching and gaining well, pumping more can drive the body into an oversupply. This can lead to clogged ducts, leaking at inconvenient times and general discomfort.
q How do I know if I’m not producing enough milk? What do I do?
a Milk production is mainly supply and demand. The more one feeds their baby the more milk that will be made for that baby, given the latch is deep and the nursing parent is feeding on demand. Low milk supply usually results in inadequate weight gain for babies, which can require supplementation. In this case, pumping on top of nursing baby often can sometimes help. There are also some common herbal supplements an herbalist or naturopath can recommend. Always consult with a skilled practitioner.
q How do I know if I’m over-producing milk? What do I do then?
a Overproduction is rather common, despite popular belief. Some may notice getting engorged or full before baby is ready to eat or the ability to still pump a few ounces after nursing. It takes 6 weeks for supply to regulate with baby’s demand, so before then I don’t recommend anything if oversupply is suspected. However if weight gain is good and one is finding themselves uncomfortable between feeds there is a great thing called blocked feeding. This is nursing consecutively on the same side for 2-3 times so the other gets engorged and starts to slow down production. This tends to work within 24-48 hours.
q When should I see a lactation consultant?
a See a lactation consultant whenever! Prenatal education is vital for initiating breastfeeding and support is important for reaching your goals postpartum. There is never a wrong time to seek advice and support. Many insurances cover lactation support and there are volunteer groups such as Chocolate Milk Cafe and La Leche League where a parent can get one-on-one support if finances are a concern.