After reading several articles that encourage every new mother to nurse their baby, all mothers are eagerly looking forward to the time when they could actually cradle their newborn and feed them with the best food, that is breast milk. Breastfeeding has numerous benefits but it’s also very helpful in creating a special bond between the mother and the baby which lasts forever. There’s a million-dollar industry that makes products such as lactation treats and lactation drinks, just to ensure that every mother has no problem in nursing their baby. But when a mother sees that her breast milk is insufficient to feed the baby, she gets panics, worries, and gets disheartened.
Firstly, don’t panic or feel that there’s something wrong with you, it takes a few days for the breast milk to fully come in flow. The first milk that comes from the mother’s breast is called the colostrum, which is very essential for the baby as it boosts the immune system and gives the baby instant nourishment. In 3-5 days after delivery regular breast milk starts to come in and, in some cases, it can also take up to a week or so. Lactation treats and other amazing supplements also help the mothers to increase milk supply significantly.
Breast milk is produced by a number of hormones in a woman’s body which are all running rampantly all through the pregnancy. These hormones include prolactin, oxytocin, cortisol and insulin, each having a significant job of its own. Two other hormones which are added to this cocktail of hormones are estrogen and progesterone, which ensure that the milk isn’t produced until the baby is in the world. It takes 2-3 days for the levels of estrogen and progesterone to level out so that the regular milk supply can kick in.
But sometimes the wait is longer than usual and the new mothers starts to panic. There’re a number of reasons that contribute to the postponement of breast milk. Let’s go through them so that new mothers don’t panic and understand the real reasons behind the delay.
Reasons for Little to No Breast Milk
Every mother doubts, blames and accuses herself if her baby isn’t getting sufficient supply of milk. The first thought that crosses her mind is that something is wrong with her or she is the only one who’s not good enough. But please be gentle with your mind and body, you’re not alone in this! There are so many reasons for a delay in milk coming, try to understand the real reasoning behind the delay and come over it by taking proper guidance from your lactation expert.
1. Problematic Delivery
There’re a lot of things that can go wrong or not as planned during the delivery stage which can even result in inadequate supply of milk. A prolonged and exhausting labour, usage of forceps or vacuum suction and caesarean birth can all increase the stress levels which can in turn delay the in coming of the milk. Sometimes huge amounts of IV fluids used during the birth can cause the breast to engorge and become sensitive and painful. This can cause water retention in the breasts and the swelling can make it difficult for the baby to latch. Medicines that ease the labor pains can also delay the milk coming in and in worst cases can even cause severe nerve or spinal damage, resulting in decreased milk supply. Sometimes a premature birth can also cause a delay in the arrival of breast milk as the breasts are not yet ready.
2. Medical Conditions
As told earlier, breast milk is produced by a number of hormones working together, imbalance of any of those hormones can affect the production of breast milk. Insulin is an important hormone in the production of breast milk which can be affected if the mother is suffering from pregnancy diabetes which is also known as gestational diabetes. Polycystic ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is another medical condition that obstructs the flow of breast milk.
If a mother is overweight or obese then she is most likely to have a low milk supply. A BMI greater than 2.6 means a lower prolactin response. Obese women also have a greater insulin resistance which further detriments the supply of milk.
4. Thyroid Condition
An untreated or undiagnosed thyroid problem can lead to many problems like getting overweight or underweight and not having enough milk flow as well.
5. Delay in the Breastfeeding
For a good flow of milk, it’s absolutely essential that the baby is put to the breast within the first hour after delivery. If that’s not possible then the breasts won’t be stimulated enough and the let down reflex won’t be triggered to further increase milk supply.
6. Older Age Mother
If the mother is in her late 30s or early 40s she might see a delayed onset of lactation.
7. Stress and Overthinking
Mothers who fret about everything and are worried all the time may also have a delay in the arrival of breast milk.
What Measures Can be Taken?
Here are some pivotal steps that a mother can take to stimulate her milk supply from the hospital and also when she arrives home with her little one. Mothers must hand express or use a hospital grade pump for that extra suction and stimulation. Lactation treats are also a great way to increase milk supply. Try to put the new born baby to the breast whenever he wants so that the let down reflex is triggered to produce more milk. Drink lots of fluids, relax and don’t worry too much.
While it may seem to mothers that the baby is suffering due to her insufficient supply of milk, it’s not the case. The hospital staff is trained enough to know all this. If a formula milk is given in the meantime it won’t harm your baby at all neither does it mean that the baby won’t feed on your breast anymore. Just keep trying to put your baby on your breasts and take help from your lactation expert for the best guidance.