I have often come across countless queries from mommies on social platforms complaining of INADEQUATE MILK SUPPLY, and calling calling their milk as low quality milk. These queries leave me bemused and sad, for the baby in question.
Is it right to judge to milk supply and label the quality of a mother’s milk?
Countless studies and research stand testimony that the composition of human breastmilk is such to meet the nutritional needs of a baby to the T.
Yes, during the initial days, due to all sleepless excitement, milk supply can tend to reduce in some cases. However, it can purely be due to medical reasons – tongue tie of baby, incorrect latch or just a way of the body telling you it wants to rest. It can all be treated. Just let the mommy have some me time, go through few latching techniques, breastfeeding positions and she will rejuvenate to become the nurturer she is born to be.
Believe me, in the first month of motherhood, even I had days where I’d find myself dumbstruck and caged with round the clock breastfeeding sessions. My bub would always be eager for more! In fact, she still is (at almost turning two!)
As a result, there are days when I have to frequently breastfeed her. The instant I sit to eat, watch TV or lie down to rest, she will come for a feeding session. It happens everyday. So will you call my milk not sufficient that it leaves my baby always hungry for more? No.
Commenting about the quality of breastmilk is only plain foolish. No milk is too thin, or ineffective to fill baby’s tummy. Breastfeeding is a personal experience and it should not be commented upon or become a doubt in any mother’s heart.
Repeat this – My milk is just what my baby needs. My hold is just what my baby wants.
Need is the core word here. A mom’s body is designed to meet her baby’s needs and so is her milk. Remember your baby needs nothing but you and it is you that a baby gets through breastfeeding, snuggling or kissing.
THE DEMAND AND SUPPLY OF BREASTMILK
A mother’s milk supply depends solely and wholly on the demand it receives. The more the demand, a mother will feel, the more her milk supply will peak. To put it simpler, the more the baby will need and ask for mother’s milk, the more milk a mother’s body will create. It is purely mother nature at play.
Remember Economics? The demand supply chart? The same principle applies with respect to breast milk supply. So worry not if your little one is always needy for milk. It means they need it and your body is the perfect supplement to meet your baby’s need. Have trust in both your baby and your body. They are designed for each other. Remember breastfeeding is not just for filling little tummies but for filling little hearts with love and adoration.
When a mother breastfeeds a child, she does not only fill the baby’s tummy with nutrition and antibodies to fight diseases and ward off any probability of developmental delays, she also fills her child with her warmth. It is like pouring out your soul and your essence to lay grounding blocks of life. Same goes for when a baby is bottle fed, the warmth the baby receives through the hold is way much stronger than what is going through the mouth.
This outwordly bonding experience is what a baby needs most to grow into a successful and responsible adult. Hence, if a baby is being breastfed often or bottle fed often it does not mean the baby is hungry, it just means that the baby needs the comforting touch of a mother. Besides, the constant need to come close to the mother can also be due to physical developments happening in the little one’s tiny body like teething or growth spurts.
Any judgement will only spoil things for a little baby who might have come close to the mom with an innocent intention of wanting some more attention in the form of bucket loads of cuddles and kisses.
Inadequacy of milk thus is a completely rookie mistake which many mothers make.
Even I have committed this mistake, which is why my Pihu was formula fed twice at the hospital by the nurses. Hey, I had no one to assure me how amazing my mom body is. On top of that I had idea how to make my baby to latch correctly so that she will suck easily and create a demand for breastmilk in my body. Also, I was super drained out after the c sec.
Everything felt so uncomfortable then because it was all so new.
I needed time to understand and process. So after an enlightening session with a lactation consultant I finally understand the need to put the baby to boob after regular time periods and how to. The latch matters so much in having a smooth breastfeeding journey. I had no idea!
Of course, this first time mom had a lot to learn and she knew she couldn’t fail because the failure wouldn’t be just hers but also of her baby. Now, which mother would want that and so, I gave my best shot at breastfeeding. I followed my lactation consultants advice to the T and began my breastfeeding journey with a clear and sorted, positive mind. I concentrated solely on creating adequate demand for my milk by correctly latching Pihu’s mouth to my nipple. And finally with practice and a bad nipple crack experience I finally got through.
Yet there were days when I would want to switch over to formula because of the emotional, physical load of it all. The continuous night feeding left me drained. I am yet to experience nights where I have slept without being woken up by my doll for a feed. So hey, it you need to and feel like switching to formula, I understand you completely.
Formula is not bad.
Infact, for mums who are unable to breastfeed or have to break this beautiful bond of breastfeeding due to any reason, formula is a lifesaver. It is a gift of science that we can replicate the core nutrition which mother’s milk provides by supplementing it with formula milk.
The duty to nurture your baby is all yours and only you can decide the right milk or the kind of nutrition you’d like to provide.
However, a mother should not opt for formula judging her milk supply to be inadequate to satiate her bub. Round the clock feeding and frequent opening of one’s ‘milk bar’ can be tiring, yes! Try breastfeeding lying down if you’re tired but do breastfeed as long as you can cope physically and emotionally. Though it is advocated how important breastfeed is for babies, still it is not anybody’s decision but yours only to continue or stop breastfeeding as and when you feel like.
Know this there is a reason why our babies come back for more and more breastmilk even after they’d had a feed a mere minutes before. The theory of nesters and carriers is very insightful here about mother’s milk.
Nesters and Carriers? Who are we?
As per this theory, nesting mammals (like mice, rabbit, deer, and others) produce milk that is high in fat content and less on water since they have to leave their baby behind in the nests as they go scavenging for food. So high fat content leaves the baby full for longer time periods.
The other types – carriers are those mammals which carry their babies with them (like monkeys, kangaroos, humans, and so forth) and hence produce milk that is low in fat content and more in water content so as to create an optimum supply for the rigorous demand. The low fat content makes baby hungry for more. Humans come in the carrying category so it is only natural if a baby will want to be frequently breastfeed.
DOES A FREQUENTLY BREASTFED BABY DENOTE LACK OF ADEQUATE MILK SUPPLY?
Thus, it is not about inadequate milk supply or low quality milk or whatever is said when a mom is breastfeeding round the clock. It’s all nature at play and is completely normal. It is just how it should be – enriching, nurturing, fulfilling, terrifyingly tiring but beautiful.
I am not joking. That is what motherhood does to new mothers. It is tiring, overwhelming, all silly emotions, round the clock learning, lots of unlearning and very little to nil sound sleep. Imagine all of it now add the responsibility and the societal judgement to breastfeed. Can you feel the jitters? Now sprinkle on it the thought of inadequate milk supply. So crazy, right? That’s motherhood. Yet we mothers endure and persevere because we are mothers.
The first few months are most precious and there is so much more behind and around breastfeeding than it being just for satiating a little one’s hunger.
So please, I request all to always be kind to a mother especially when she is breastfeeding. Where breastfeeding is a more of a natural process than formula feeding they are both without doubt equally taxing on any new mother. So be kind to new moms, and show up when she asks you to.
A happy mom will raise a happy baby.
You never since how long she must have been holding her urge to pee or poop. Give a new mother and baby lots of time and opportunities to bond and cope with each other. Give them space, let them stay cocooned and bubbled in the love they have for each other. But, also offer the mother to take time out for herself, hold her baby while she finishes her meal, bring her maybe have a coffee? Or get her to sit and watch a sitcom? Setup a relaxing hot bath?
- You never since how long she must have been holding her urge to pee or poop.
- Give a new mother and baby lots of time and opportunities to bond and cope with each other.
- Give them space, let them stay cocooned and bubbled in the love they have for each other.
- But, also offer the mother to take time out for herself, hold her baby while she finishes her meal, bring her maybe have a coffee? Or get her to sit and watch a sitcom? Setup a relaxing hot bath?
- A new mother will tend to place her well being last which is completely natural but so uncalled for.