To a hungry baby, milk needs to start flowing, and fast. But unlike with bottle feeding, it can take a few moments for that tell-tale tingling of the letdown response to get started and the breastmilk to start flowing. To make matters even more confusing, the variability of milk flow can differ between breasts. For babies that are combination fed with breast and bottle (whether with breastmilk or formula), the change in flow between the two can cause a baby to become impatient at the breast if he is used to the immediate flow from a bottle. Here are some tips to help:
1. Don't wait until baby is exceedingly hungry. A very hungry baby is a very fussy baby and it can make latching more difficult, and can exacerbate the baby's frustration if milk flow isn't immediate.
2. Massage the breast being nursed to help initiate the milk ejection.
3. Feed and/or pump on both breasts, even if one is favored over the other by baby. My firstborn son only wanted to latch on my left breast at first, and in turn, it made my milk supply uneven and made him favor one over the other even more. By continuing to pump on the breast not fed from, it helps maintain equal milk supply which may make BOTH breasts appealing to baby. Breast variability is often only temporary. Sometimes there are underlying physical issues that cause side preference, which can be addressed with an IBCLC.
4. Fast flow can be difficult for baby too. If you can hear audible swallowing and you notice baby is pulling away a bit, the flow may be too fast and may even spray without sucking. This is sometimes the case when the breasts are highly engorged. If this is a common issue for you, try pumping for a minute or two before feeding to release some of the pressure.
5. For babies with weak sucks or for milk flow that consistently remains low and slow, a supplemental feeding system may help baby feel less impatient and stay at the breast until the issue at hand is resolved. A Lactation Consultant can help you get set up with a supplemental feeding system and can address any other feeding concerns you may have with milk flow to make sure there are no other underlying issues that may be affecting milk supply and flow.
New moms are often told “breastfeeding is the most natural thing you can do for your baby”, but when the time comes to start feeding, many mothers are faced with confusion and frustration with breastfeeding difficulties. Some estimates suggest up to two-thirds of new moms experience breastfeeding difficulties. From sore nipples, difficult latching, and mom or baby physical abnormalities, lactation consultants can provide moms with the tools needed to have a successful relationship with breastfeeding.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) are the gold standard for professional, lactation support. IBCLCs are made up of professionals such as registered nurses, dietitians, physicians, and midwives who have thousands of hours of experience specifically in the physical, nutritional, emotional, and sociological issues of breastfeeding.
A lactation consultant can help mothers learn how to properly position their babies for the most comfortable and effective latch. They can give tips on improving milk supply, addressing breast infections, feeding babies with physiological problems, supplemental feeding of premature infants, and how to maintain breastfeeding when returning to the workplace.
Whether it's answering questions before birth to help prepare for what to expect with breastfeeding, or addressing concerns or problems post-partum, contacting a lactation consultant can help ease you into a successful breastfeeding relationship with your baby.