Making Milk & Accessing Human Milk

Caring for an infant can be stressful at times, but the recent formula shortage has really amplified all the normal infant feeding stressors. We see you all struggling with the extra pressure to make milk or know where you’ll find the formula your baby tolerates best.

Here are some tips for making milk and accessing human milk:

  • Prenatal breastfeeding preparation: Show up prepared for your baby’s first feedings and start with the confidence you know how to give your baby and body the best start towards a full milk supply.
  • Ensuring an adequate milk supply: Establishing a good milk supply early postpartum will help you meet your longer term goals – think of the first 6 weeks as your “investment period.”
    • Lactation functions on a supply and demand system, meaning removing more milk sends the signal to your body to make more and removing milk less frequently sends the signal to slow down production
    • Look for a good latch and signs baby is transferring milk, such as nipple comfort, diaper output, swallows, and weight gain. Check out our “Breastfeeding Basics” blog post for more info.
  • Increasing milk supply: Meet with your Lactation Consultant to determine the cause of low milk supply and then together you can create a specialized plan for helping boost supply. (Keep in mind a normal milk supply is 24-30oz in 24 hours. It is not necessary to make more than baby’s intake needs and an oversupply can actually cause more problems like clogged ducts, mastitis, engorgement). Some tips to help boost supply:
    • Frequent feeding and/or pumping sessions (at least 8x/24 hours, if possible)
    • Breast compressions during feeding – gentle massage or compressing breast while baby is feeding to help transfer more milk to baby and more thoroughly empty breasts
    • Switch feeding – offer baby 3rds and 4ths by going back and forth between your breasts as baby slows down or becomes sleepy. This helps stimulate more milk letdowns and keep baby more active throughout feeding.
    • Power pumping once a day to mimic a cluster feeding (pump for 15 mins, rest for 10 mins, pump for 10 mins, rest for 10 mins, pump for 10 mins…we suggest you find a good show to binge during this one!)
  • Building a milk stash: Having extra milk for occasional outings, back to work, or “just in case” can be helpful or bring some comfort knowing you have a cushion. Remember, you don’t need a freezer full like the pictures easily found on social media.
    • Pump after your first feeding of the morning (hormones peak during the early morning hours, meaning many moms have the most milk first thing in the morning)
    • Utilize hands on pumping and massage to more thoroughly empty the breast while pumping
    • Begin small – “squirrel” away milk by collecting small amounts each day in the fridge and then freezing in 2-3oz increments
  • Relactating and Inducing Lactation: Relactating is bringing back a milk supply after baby has weaned and Inducing Lactation is creating a milk supply without having given birth (commonly used for cases of adoption or a co-feeding parent). How cool is the human body that we can make milk without having given birth or recently delivered a baby? Your Lactation Consultant can help you find the right protocol for you based on how long ago you last lactated, feeding goals, and timeline for wanting to create a milk supply. Relactating and Inducing Lactation are not for the faint of heart, both involve around the clock effort and can take weeks before results are seen. Check out our “Breastfeeding Outside the Box” blog post to learn more!
  • Donor Milk: Milk Banks screen donors, collect milk, and then process this milk for babies in need. Sometimes insurance will cover donor milk and sometimes it is available for purchase. You can learn more about receiving donor milk or becoming a milk donor by contacting your local milk bank.
  • Informal Milk Sharing: This can range from a family or friend sharing extra pumped milk to Facebook groups that connect strangers. Check out these resources to learn more:

Click here to schedule an appointment with a Nurture Lactation Consultant.

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