By far, the most common concern about breastfeeding is adequate milk supply. Here are the top evidence based recommendations for ensuring your short term and long term production.
1. Bring your baby to the breast as soon as possible after birth. Babies are born alert and ready to feed. Babies nursed in the first 2 hours after birth are more likely to be exclusively breastfed.
2. Feed often and on cue. Crying is a late sign of hunger. In the first weeks, babies nurse all the time. This establishes long term milk supply and helps the stomach grow. Expect your baby to nurse at least 12 times in 24 hours, often more. All health organizations recommend “on demand” infant feeding. No health organizations recommend scheduled feeds.
3. Hold your baby. Skin to skin contact is proven to facilitate better breastfeeding. You can’t “spoil” a baby. Holding your baby has other health benefits for non-breastfeeding families as well. Babies in close contact with an adult care provider are better able to regulate breathing, metabolism, heart rate, and temperature.
4. Sleep near your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies room-in with an adult care giver for the first 6 months of life as a protective measure against SIDS. Room sharing also facilitates easier night feeding. It’s normal for babies to nurse at night well beyond 6 months of age.
5. Do not introduce formula, water, juice, or other solids unless medically indicated before 6 months. Exclusive breastfeeding provides everything a full term healthy baby needs. Giving a formula supplement “just in case” can cause milk supply to drop. Combination feeding of breast and formula leads to decreased milk supply as well.
6. Ignore the clock. Allow your baby to nurse as long as he or she wants. Some babies will finish a feed in 7-10 minutes while others may take 40 or more. Just like adults sometimes want a full meal and other times just a snack, babies feel the same way. Put your baby to the breast and nurse until the baby comes off naturally. Offer the other breast. Your baby may or may not want both breasts per feed. Always follow the baby’s cue.