If there’s one thing that pushes every single one of my buttons and that I will get into a screaming match about, is a mom being told that she needs to supplement with formula because her “breast milk is not nutritious enough.”
Read this very carefully: Just because your mom, mom-in-law, sister, aunty, random stranger on the street tells you that your breast milk is not nutritional enough, does NOT make it true. And anyone who tries tell you that and makes you feel inadequate of being able mother and providing for your baby, tell them there’s a crazy milk lady that will beat them up. I watched my husband rant about this in our kitchen a few night ago after their cook was told this exact line by her mother and her still newborn baby is having severe digestive problems from the formula. I don’t have how we got to both being professional engineers to angry ranting about someone else’s breast milk and family dynamics, but I’m truly loving where we are.
So it is really possible not to produce nutritional milk? No. And yes, but highly unlikely and you’ll have to be close to going through a famine so I’ll stick to no. It’s important to understand how your milk production works to answer this for yourself. Mom eats food, food gets digested, nutrients passes into the bloodstream, body takes those nutrients and makes milk, mom gets what’s left over. It’s like pregnancy. Just like your baby’s needs will first be met and mom will be deprived of whatever nutrient she doesn’t have enough of, the same goes with breastfeeding. Your body will first take what your baby needs and make her milk, then moms needs ate met. Again, mom will show any nutrient deficiency before your baby does. So it is important to follow a healthy diet when nursing, not just to ensure that you actually have the nutrients that your baby needs in your bloodstream, but more because you need them as well. Nursing burns about 500kj per day, so ensure that you eat enough.
So why is she drinking AGAIN if she’s getting good quality milk? Because she wants to. Because she needs comfort. Because she’s going through a growth spurt (then you might not have enough milk at that stage, but it doesn’t have anything to do with your milk’s nutritional value). Because she misses you. Unless she does not have 6 or more wet diapers a day and is losing weight, then nursing every hour is normal. Yes, NORMAL.
So what should you actually do instead of giving formula top ups?
1. Follow a decent diet. Your body will take what it needs to make milk, but it cannot transfer nutrients to your baby that you physically don’t have. Get in lots of iron, calcium and proteins. Eat enough. Decent meals and snacks in between.
2. Drink enough fluids. Have water even before you are thirsty.
3. Breastfeed on demand. If your baby looks hungry and you are concerned that you don’t have enough milk, then have a lactation bar to support your milk production. Have 2 if you need to. Just offer breast every single time.
Your body will adjust to making the new volume demand sooner than you think, so just support your body and watch it do its magic.
Moms have been able to provide for their babies for thousands of years. I promise you that you will be able to provide for your little one too.