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Breastfeeding Problems? You Can Build Up Your Milk Supply

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if you have problems breastfeeding you can increase your supply of milk iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Not producing breast milk in the period immediately after birth is common in medicated deliveries.

The milk is designed to "come in" after about three days. Before that your baby drinks colostrum, a thin, yellowish first milk.

If you have had a caesarean, which is now the mode of delivery for one in four women, you may find that it delays your milk coming in or that you have a lower supply.

This is because the analgesia may cause the baby to be drowsy and affect his ability to root and suckle. Research has shown that even one injection of Demerol in a vaginal birth can have this effect.

As the initial infant reflexes are crucial to the successful establishment of breastfeeding, this is of concern to medical professionals, who are trying to develop pain relief options that don’t pass through the placenta.

Babies born to mothers who had an epidural have in one study been shown to have lower motor skills, including rooting behaviour, which persisted for eight hours after delivery.

Caesarean mothers may also produce less oxytocin and less prolactin. Prolactin is necessary for both the formation of milk and its ejection from the breast. This is why some C-section moms find that their milk supply is low, or they take longer to produce milk after childbirth.

This, coupled with post-operative pain can lead to a failure of breastfeeding. If you have had a caesarean or a medicated vaginal birth, you can do the following to try and increase your supply:

1. Use a breast pump in addition to trying to feed your baby directly, as this may stimulate your breasts to produce more milk.

2. Don’t top your baby up with formula, this will just compound the problem because the fuller he is, the less he will try to breastfeed and your supply will diminish even further.

3. If your baby wants to feed, feed him as much as he wants. Don’t schedule feedings.

4. Don’t give your baby a pacifier until he’s at least six weeks old, as babies who suck on pacifiers suck less at the breast. It might also give him "nipple confusion" and cause him to reject suckling at the breast if it is offered before your milk supply is established.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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