For those of you new to reading my blog I am a volunteer feeding peer supporter at Brighton hospital in Sussex, England, and a doula. I decided to write a weekly blog to record the most common questions I get asked on the post natal ward by new mamas. Although it may be fortnightly, depending on when i get time as a busy mum 😉
The question I chose for this week made sense to write about upon seeing all of the beautiful breast feeding photographs edited with a tree of life PicsArt App, like my beautiful featured image.
Week two… My baby feeds all the time, am i producing enough milk?
Quite simply, yes you are, and you are doing an amazing job! However here is my long winded answer to this question.
It is very rare for a mama not to be producing enough, if you are eating well you will be producing enough, and if you are not eating well your amazing body will still be drawing out all the nutirents your baby needs to grow and develop. Babies feed little and often not only because they are hungry, they can be thirsty, feeding for antibodies, the loving hormones they receive, warmth, closeness and comfort, there is so much more to feeding than just hunger.
A new born baby will feed little and often for a number of reasons. One is because the colostrum, which is the first milk your body produces, lines the entire digestive tract with a protective lining to guard against unwelcome pathogens keeping your babies immunity high until your babies own immune system is developed. Awesome stuff isnt it! Another reason is to build up your milk supply, the more they feed the more milk you produce, which establishes a great foundation for long term feeding, so they are insinctively doing it for their future too 😉
I dont feel I can write this blog without mentioning the composition of your amazing milk. Your milk is made from your blood, the blood gets filtered through the ducts in the breasts and transformed into the clear, white, light blue or light pink fluid we call milk (it can change colour depending on what you eat too!).
The composition of milk is always changing depending on your babies needs. Its consists not only of nutrients but so much more too, as i said before! This is a basic run down of what is in your breast milk.
Nutrients – water, proteins – protein accounts for 75% of the nitrogen-containing compounds and the non-protein nitrogen substances including urea, nucleotides, peptides, free amino acids and DNA. Fats – Essential fatty acids and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Carbohydrates – The main carbohydrate of human milk is lactose. plus of course minerals, vitamins, and trace elements.
Growth factors – Cells that signal the development of your baby’s digestive system, nervous system, including brain, spinal cord and nerve pathways.
Hormones – many hormones are passed to your baby via breast milk, including oxytocin and prolactin, which support your baby to be calm and relaxed. Mammalian steroids are also passed through breast milk which include, thyroid, adrenal and ovarian steroids, all amazing at developing your babies body, it is too detailed for me to write here but just google what these steroids do in your body and you will be amazed!
Living cells and Antibodies– Cells unique to mama and baby, attack pathogens that attack unwanted cells and engulf them, or starve them. My favourite fact here is that your body will make antibodies within twenty minutes to the pathogens (bugs) you are expossed to, arent we just amazing! So even if you need to go back to work you can rest assured your breast milk will still be vital for aiding your babies immunity!
Its all such clever stuff isnt it, your body, boobs and baby are all so incredibly amazing!
So in light of all this, I would say trust your body is doing exactly what it needs to for your baby, and your baby is doing what he/she needs for his growth and development. Take each day as it comes as the next day may be different when it comes to breast feeding… and you are doing an amazing job!!! Keep it going.
If you feel you need extra support, do contact someone, you can speak to your midwife, health visitor, doula (if you have one), lactation consultant (you can ask you midwife, or health visitor for a referral). Also find out where your local breast feeding drops are, these are usually run by health visitors, and / or peer supporters and are really great groups.
‘Breast feeding is a mothers gift to herself, her baby and the earth’ Pamela K.Wiggens – lactation consultant.
If you got this far with reading this article, thank you!
Sussex Community NHS Trust Peer Support Training course notes. http://www.infantnutritioncouncil.com/resources/breastmilk-information/