Ask the Expert; Milk Supply

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As part of Breastfeeding awareness week, the wonderful Stacy Jukes, a midwife of 20 years and lactation consultant for 16 years at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals in South Brisbane is sharing with us some super helpful tips on breastfeeding. Here, she is answering questions all about Milk Supply.

Is your baby getting enough breastmilk?

For new mums, breastfeeding is another new skill you’ll need to learn when your precious little one arrives. It is very common for mums to feel unsure about the various elements of breastfeeding such as timing, frequency, techniques and milk production. As with any new activity it can take some time to feel comfortable with breastfeeding.

While it is impossible to measure how much breast milk a baby drinks, it is possible to assess if your baby is feeding effectively. Breastfeeding should be comfortable for you and your baby. Your baby should have a deep, slow rhythmic sucking pattern; the slower the suck, the more milk that is drawn into your baby’s mouth. Your baby will appear more relaxed, and your breasts become softer, as the feed progresses.

Breastfeeding works on supply and demand. Every time your baby feeds, your body starts to make the next feed. The more your baby feeds, the more milk you make. You do not have to wait a specific amount of time for your breasts to fill up before feeding your baby again. If you have any concerns about your milk supply, please speak to your midwife, GP or a lactation consultant.

Is it true that your milk supply drops at four months post-partum?

Milk supply tends to increase steadily in the first six weeks, then stay at a similar volume for six months until solids are introduced. Breast milk is the main part of a baby’s diet until around 1 year of age, it continues to be of many benefits for two years and beyond, as recommended by the World Health Organisation) for optimal health and development.

How do you keep your supply up as your baby nears 12 months?

Supply can generally be equal to babies’ needs while demand feeding is continued. Night feeding is a common and important part of the relationship and will help keep your supply boosted. Stress, the return of your period and interrupting or scheduling is most likely to affect your supply.

What’s your suggestion for one breast with very low supply whilst the other one is okay, to make both balance?

Many women have different sized breasts and the milk produced is also different. It is important to offer both sides, and for this reason especially timed feeds or restricting baby to only one breast per feed can be detrimental to your supply and your baby’s intake with each feed. Usually offering alternate sides each feed to begin a feed will ensure each breast at a time will be well stimulated and production as even as possible.

Stacy has been a midwife for over 20 years, including 16 years as a lactation consultant. She is a proud mum of two teenage girls whom she was able to breastfeed for two and three years consecutively. At the time of her first daughter’s birth, breastfeeding didn’t start out easily and this led her having a deeper appreciation for the struggles many new mums experience when developing this new important relationship with their baby.

Stacy currently works with the breastfeeding team at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals in South Brisbane providing support in its postnatal wards as a lactation consultant, and also as a childbirth educator teaching parent education classes.

This content was provided by our Brisbane Advice Hub Partner, Mater Mothers’ Hospitals.   For more invaluable advice and information  from Mater Mothers’, check out their website here.

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