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Insufficient Milk

The most likely reason for milk drying up is the inhibition of the ejection reflex (the mechanism by which milk is ejected from the breast). This reduces the production of milk and gradually stops it completely. Often, the drying up has psychological reasons behind it when people ask the mother whether her milk has dried up or is drying up.

Any woman who believes that her milk is drying up must be told to nurse her baby more often to increase the suckling stimulus. This would in turn increase the production of milk and reduce the possibilities of drying up. It is important for the mother to be confident about herself to avoid such situations.

If the mother does not produce enough milk, even though her baby is sucking frequently, the mother is on a balanced diet and gets enough rest, she may be one of the very rare low producers. Such women usually have enough milk during the first 2 to 3 months after which the infant stops gaining weight (less than 0.5 kg per month in the first 6 months) and appears to be hungry most of the time.

These symptoms clearly point towards poor milk supply and have to be dealt with early supplementation of food. Possible solutions for such a situation:

Give Mixed Feeds

Offer the breast first, followed by cow’s milk or formula feeds.

Thin Milk Production

Mothers sometimes feel that breast milk is too thin due to its watery look. Actually, the energy content of human milk varies. But, the baby usually compensates for this variation by altering the amount of milk that he takes.

After four months of feeding, a mother can supplement her breast milk with other kinds of food.

Low Milk Production

Henna was very disappointed because she could not breastfeed her first baby due to low milk formation. The moment she realised she was pregnant for the second time, she came to me with her queries. She wanted to know if she could do anything during pregnancy, during delivery or after delivery to increase the milk production as she was determined to feed the baby this time.

These are the following guidelines you have to follow to improve low milk production:

  • Antenatal preparation and motivation of the mother to breast-feed.

  • Putting the baby to the breast soon after delivery. All healthy babies who have no prenatal problems should be put to the breast within two hours, preferably within the first half hour after delivery.

  • Avoid prelacteal feeds, as the colostrum (first few drops of breast milk) is sufficient to meet the needs of the new born.

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