Many women feel that they may not have enough milk for their baby. In fact, 40% of Australian mums actually stop breastfeeding before six months due to feeling like there was “not enough milk”.
There can be several medical reasons for low milk supply but there are also other more normal factors at play which actually affect a much larger group of women.
Many mums will chat with friends about how often their baby feeds and how much their baby sleeps. Comparing notes with other Mums can be really distressing. Particularly if they are saying that their baby feeds five or six times a day and ‘sleeps through’; and your baby is feeding 11 times a day, and three of those are overnight. It can sow a seed of doubt that leads to an unfounded belief that they have a low milk supply. This in turn can lead to introducing unnecessary formula feeds when they probably don’t need to.
Findings from a study by leading lactation researcher Dr. Jacqueline Kent, confirmed that there is no breastfeeding norm. The good news is we are all meant to be different. One hundred babies aged one month to six months old, were exclusively breastfeeding and gaining weight well were studied. The researchers wanted to know if they could settle mothers’ minds by finding out what babies “should” be doing.
The research found that infant’s breastfeed between four and 13 times per day. Some babies will eat very infrequently whilst others still need to breastfeed every two hours or so, up until they are six months old. Any thing in between four and 13 feeds a day is considered normal.
The normal amount of milk consumed during a breastfeeding session ranges from 54-234 ml. This explains why some babies need to feed only four or five times a day and why others need to feed 10 -13 times. Each mother’s breasts are able to hold a different capacity of milk, which is why our babies feed so differently.
As long as your baby is thriving and gaining weight there is no need to add formula milk into their diet and no need to think that you are not doing a good enough job.
You’re doing an excellent job!
If your baby is constantly, eagerly breastfeeding and you feel like you never get a chance to get up from the chair or do anything else, take heart. As infants get older, their feeding times tend to become shorter and less frequent – even though they are still getting the same amount of milk.