“I had to give up breastfeeding because I had no milk”

Over the last three decades I have helped many women conceive and also coached them through breastfeeding. When I was pregnant with my first child I went to a prenatal class coached by a midwife and she warned us all that the hospital might be giving our babies formula if we did not insist that we wanted to exclusively breastfeed. Back in those days you stayed in the hospital for several days after the birth and babies were housed in the nursery when you were asleep. The midwife prenatal coach was correct. I had to continually remind the nursing staff that I was a breastfeeding only mom. Now moms are often sent home within hours of their birth and formula is discouraged but moms don’t get a lot of support to learn how to breastfeed. It can take a few days for milk to naturally come in and often moms think they don’t have enough milk supply.  

Learning to Breastfeed

I say ‘learn’ how to breastfeed because although breasts and babies are a natural fit breastfeeding can be challenging for some. Some reasons for difficulties in breastfeeding include:

  • Baby and mom may be exhausted from the birth
  • Milk naturally does not come in for a few days or breasts become engorged causing latching issues
  • Too many visitors so mom doesn’t feel comfortable breastfeeding
  • Unsupportive family
  • Jaundice can set in for some babes making them sleepy
  • Lip tie and tongue tie, a genetic problem, may be present
  • Inverted nipples which causes failure to latch properly

But the one statement I have heard too often is “I didn’t have enough milk so I had to stop breastfeeding”. So let’s review how to ensure this doesn’t happen if you want to breastfeed again.

Support from Family

Helping moms breastfeed is a gift that the women in the family can give. I remember my own mom who couldn’t breastfeed because she “did not have enough milk” continually asked me why I did not give the babies a bottle so I would have a break from all this feeding. I felt unsupported. So it is important for the family to help moms be successful in their choice to breastfeed. Help out with food preparation and cleaning so that mom can focus on baby and breastfeeding especially in the first few weeks. It can take up to three days for the milk to come in after a baby is born but baby does get immune supportive colostrum from the breast until that occurs so don’t worry he or she is not going without food. And babies and moms bond with each other through the nursing process.

Breastfeeding Techniques

Here are my tried and true techniques for breastfeeding success. And you can use these techniques even if you are now supplementing with several bottles per day but you want to try breastfeeding full time again. Breasts are amazing they work on a demand and supply feedback. More demand from the baby and the breasts make more milk. So the key is, to breastfeed more if you are worried about not having enough milk and don’t supplement with other liquids. Breast size and feel is not an  indicator of how much milk you have. The number of wet diapers baby has is a better indicator of breast milk supply.

1. Limit Visitors

Everyone is excited when a new baby is born so it is often difficult to say no to all those visitors. But limiting visitors to those you could bare your breasts too is a good idea. If you feel uncomfortable feeding with family and friends around go into another room.

2. Good Latching technique

When you come home or if you have had a home birth get into bed with your baby and breastfeed on demand for two to three days. Once your baby has latched on drink a glass of water because this will cause a let down reflex when you are swallowing the water. The let down reflex is what happens when the milk moves from the back of the breast to the nipple. Some women get a strong tingling when this happens. Other women do not but you can often hear baby gulping so you know it is happening. Visualize the milk coming from the back of the breast to the nipple as you drink the water. Stay well hydrated.

3. Latching on Inverted Nipples

Learn good latching technique. Flatten the nipple and have baby latch on to take in as much of the dark nipple area as possible. This will ensure you don’t get sore nipples and baby learns the best technique.  Good prenatal classes will teach you how to get the nipples ready for breastfeeding (no harsh rubbing). If you have inverted nipples (nipples that turn in) which is common you can use lanolin cream and roll the nipple gently daily to get the nipple in the right position. If this doesn’t work order the Philips Avent Nipplette as this little device is ingenious for inverted nipples for all women not just those wanting to breastfeed.

4. Prioritize Healthy Food and Nutrition

Have your loved ones bring you good, healthy food to eat. You are now feeding two people. Bone broth, soups, lots of protein and liquids and more liquids.  Watch movies, rest and spend time with your partner and baby and feed the baby often. Remember demand creates supply. And rest and healthy food brings in more milk.

5. Natural Herbs to Increase Breast Milk

There are natural herbs used for centuries to help increase milk production. Take Fenugreek capsules as directed and drink fennel tea throughout the day. Both of these herbs bring milk in and increase milk supply. When I used these I had so much milk I filled the freezer with breast milk.

Practice for Success

Within three days of implementing these techniques you will be well on your way to breastfeeding success. Women who have adopted babies have used these tips to get the breasts working so they could feed their new babes. There are also breastfeeding coaches that you can hire and they will come to your house and help you too. There are some women who have to go back to work or have decided not to breastfeed and I support that decision but if you want to breastfeed and have been told by your doctor that you don’t have enough milk or you are worried about not having enough milk these tips can help make breastfeeding effortless.

Share your breastfeeding challenges and successes so we can help as many women as possible.