Inadequate Breast Milk

A baby being weighed to ensure they are getting enough milk to gain weight

If the breasts produce inadequate breast milk, increasing the frequency of feeds will increase the breast stimulation, and the reflex between the breast and the pituitary gland under the brain is also stimulated. This gland then increases the supply of hormones that cause the production of milk. Sometimes, medications (eg. domperidone, metoclopramide) that stimulate the pituitary gland can be used to increase milk production, or even induce milk production in mothers who adopt a baby.

A mother who is tense and anxious about her new baby may have trouble breastfeeding. The mother should be allowed plenty of time for feeding and relaxation so that she becomes more relaxed and never feels rushed. A lack of privacy can sometimes be a hindrance to successful breastfeeding. Lots of reassurance, support from family, and advice from doctors, health centre nurses or associations that support nursing mothers can help her through this difficult time.

The best way to determine if the baby is receiving adequate milk is regular weighing at a child welfare clinic or doctor’s surgery. Provided the weight is steadily increasing, there is no need for concern. If the weight gain is very slight, or static, and increasing the frequency of feeds fails to improve the breast milk supply, then as a last resort supplementation of the breast feeds may be required. It is best to offer the breast first, and once they appear to be empty of milk, a bottle of suitable formula can be given to finish the feed.

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(Last modified: 9th Oct 2014)

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