The mysterious world of breastfeeding!

The mysterious world of breastfeeding! Why can some mum breastfeed without any issues and others can really struggle with attachment and supply?   

In theory, supply should = demand. Breastfeeding is natural right?

This week P2B has had many mum’s despite unlimited breastfeeding, expressing, skin on skin who cannot produce enough breastmilk for their little one.  This scenario is not as uncommon as one thinks. 

Your breastmilk production is depended on your body’s production of 2 key hormones: oxytocin and prolactin.

Even a quick google search can tell you that prolactin causes your alveoli to take nutrients (proteins, sugars) from your blood supply and turn them into breast milk. Oxytocin causes the cells around the alveoli to contract and eject your milk down the milk ducts. This passing of the milk down the ducts is called the “let-down” (milk ejection) reflex.

Prolactin is an essential hormone in breastmilk feeding. You start producing it during your pregnancy, but high levels of oestrogen and progesterone in your bloodstream counteract its effects.

When you give birth, the levels of oestrogen and progesterone suddenly drop off. That is when prolactin can start doing its job and stimulate the production of breastmilk.

It is the levels of prolactin in the body that allow breastmilk feeding to continue. That is why it is so important to initiate breast feeding ASAP after your baby is born. Prolactin levels drop between feedings, but every time your baby breastfeeds, or you express, the levels increase, signalling the body to make more breastmilk.

Sounds simple doesn’t it??? In theory, supply should = demand.

Did you know that hormones can be influence breastmilk is a positive and negative way too?   

Feeling stressed or anxious for example.

Between lack of sleep and adjusting to a new baby, rising levels of certain hormones such as cortisol can dramatically reduce your milk supply.

Dehydration or dieting can also have an impact of milk supply. Adequate hydration and nutrition is important for breast milk production.

Expressing 30 minutes (not immediately) after a feed can also help increase your supply. So, after a feed, cuddle and put bub down, grab a snack and then express.

Some mums can go 10 to 12 hours between their longest stretch of expressing without any effect on their supply.  Others can only go 3 to 4 hours. Every breastfeeding mother has to figure out her own “magic number of hours” of when to express. 

Medication and natural therapy such as fenugreek can also assist with supply.

But at the end of the day, some mums do ALL of this and more and yet do not make enough breastmilk supply to exclusively breastfeed their baby. 

Having to top your baby up with expressed breastmilk or formula is 100% OK. 

The end goal is the same, regardless of the feeding method: a healthy baby and a healthy mum.

So the next mum you chat to – Don’t ask the question about how she is feeding, don’t judge or give advice because I can 100% assure you she is done everything and MORE to do what is best for her baby …… just give her a hug and tell her that she is AMAZING and doing everything RIGHT!