Breastfeeding, Soft Breasts and Milk Supply: Do I have enough milk for my baby?October 7, 2011
You’ve been breastfeeding your baby for weeks and all of a sudden your breasts have gotten much softer recently. Now you may be wondering (probably worrying) about whether you have enough milk for your baby. It is perfectly normal for moms to notice a drop in amounts of pumped milk or to notice that breasts have a softer, less engorged feeling after the first few months after delivery have passed.
In fact, the feeling of engorgement that seems so common during the first few weeks is not normal at all. It is in fact a result of oversupply, or the condition of having more milk than baby needs. After around 12 weeks postpartum, many mothers’ breasts will begin to adapt to their babies’ needs and no longer produce more milk than necessary. Now, your breasts are producing what YOUR particular baby needs, not what all the babies in the neighborhood need. Some moms worry that this reduction in amount of milk is a sign that their milk is insufficient and will wean their babies prematurely. Do not give up on this beautiful nursing relationship! If baby is gaining weight appropriately, and producing enough wet and dirty diapers per day, then you have enough milk for her!
I think all breastfeeding moms probably question their milk supply at one point or another. I know that I myself was worried I didn’t have enough milk at times. And I had an oversupply for a long time. However, in order to combat engorgement, I was block-feeding, or feeding on the same side for a certain number of hours in a row (say 4), and then switching to the other side for the following 4 hours. If baby got hungry twice in those 4 hours, she would nurse on the same side. Since breastmilk production is a supply and demand process, by having baby nurse on the same side multiple times, I was letting the other breast get (and stay) fuller longer. This taught my body that it did not need to make as much milk the next time the breast was emptied. By following this philosophy for a few days, I was able to successfully reduce my milk supply to the point where I was then worried that I might not have enough milk. My breasts had become very soft and did not have that over-full sensation. So I tried to offer both breasts at one feeding to encourage my breasts to make more milk. And that worked, and then I felt engorged again.
I have to admit that finding that perfect balance of supply and demand of breastmilk has been a bit tricky. I feel like I am always either trying to increase or decrease my supply. But like most experiences with a new baby, breastfeeding has its adventures!