Breast Milk Supply

My grandmother told me she didn’t produce enough milk to breastfeed any of her 3 daughters. My mother didn’t produce enough to breastfeed me. Does this mean I will have a problem producing milk?

Breast Milk Supply

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

Milk supply is a concern of many mothers. You will likely be able to produce plenty of milk. Still, your mother’s and grandmother’s experience makes it even more likely that you would benefit from working with a lactation consultant when your baby is born (something I encourage for all first time moms).

Many factors work together to determine milk supply. Prolactin is the main milk-producing hormone. Oxytocin is the hormone that causes the milk to “let down” so the baby can get it. At the beginning, a mother’s body does not know how much milk it needs to produce. A supply-and-demand dance with the baby helps to set the production levels.

The more often and more effectively a baby nurses, the higher mom’s prolactin levels, and the more milk is produced. Frequent, short nursing stimulates milk production more than longer nursing less frequently. Getting plenty of fluids is also important for mom’s to make plenty of milk.

Many women are told that they are not making enough milk, even when the baby is getting plenty to grow and thrive:

  • If the mother is not able to express much milk
  • If she doesn’t feel a let-down reflex
  • If she doesn’t leak much
  • If the baby seems hungry in only an hour
  • If the baby starts spending less time at the breast
  • If the baby still enjoys a bottle after nursing

 

Most of the time, these are false alarms.

There are several better ways to tell that a baby is getting enough milk:

  • The baby is making plenty of wet diapers for his age
  • He is making plenty of poop for his age
  • He is growing as expected.
  • He usually seem satisfied or sleepy immediately after nursing.

 

Whatever happened with your mother and grandmother, there is a good chance that you will be able to produce enough milk for your baby with expert support and advice from a good lactation consultant.

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Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

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