Perhaps one of the most difficult things a first-time mother experiences is facing her doubts and insecurities about her body’s ability to provide milk for her little one. I remember feeling helpless and in a state of panic the moment they gave me my hungry little one. As he greedily nursed at my breast that first day, I found myself wondering, “is he getting anything?” The longer he nursed or every moment he stopped to fuss and cry, panic overtook me and doubt began to take over logic and all the things I learned at pre-natal classes. Each cry seemed to affirm my lack of confidence, that indeed I was weak and physiologically lacking, that my breasts weren’t producing enough milk that he needed.
I tried at my hand at expressing milk with a breast pump that first week, and to my horror, I barely got an ounce. Those few drops were enough to crush my heart and my spirit, dragging me into a guilt-pit of having starved my son the first week of his life. Fortunately for me, I had a very supportive husband and family who never for a moment fed my insecurities, and instead enlisted the help of a lactation consultant. With her help, some help from this great site and some more help from my awesome medela double breast pump, I learned to be comfortable in doing what I thought was supposed to be a natural instinct, breastfeeding. As I slowly began to gain confidence in myself and in my body’s ability to provide milk, I learned to repeat to myself a mantra or two that may help new moms overcome their doubts.
Relax, you are built for this
Unless you are part of the 1% of women who (1) have a debilitating illness like breast cancer, AIDS, are in the ICU or are terminally ill, (2) battling a severe thyroid or hormonal condition, (3) born without milk ducts, you are physiologically designed to breastfeed. You will produce milk, whether you like it or not. So relax, take a deep breath and just latch.
In the first few days post birth, our body produces colostrum, that all important substance also known as “liquid gold” and the “first vaccine”, it is a super concentrated nutrient-rich liquid chock-full of antibodies and nutrients designed to provide our baby with his first protection against the outside-world. No other substance in the world can do as much. Remember, you produce “liquid gold”, just latch.
Baby doesn’t need much
Our babies are born with little tummies, and little tummies mean they don’t need as much milk as we may think they need. On the first day, baby’s tummy is the size of a small marble, he only needs about 0.2 oz (10ml) per feeding, or about 2 ounces (about 50 ml) on the average for the entire day. By day three, tummy size grows to the size of a regular marble and needs an ounce (about 30 ml) per feeding, roughly around just 8 ounces for the whole day. By the end of the first week, his appetite grows to about 1.5 ounces (45ml) per feeding (on the average around 15 oz / 450 ml a day), to fill his tummy which is now about the size of a ping-pong ball. So yes baby really doesn’t need much. Sit back, just latch.
Breastfeeding works on the law of supply and demand. Your body produces exactly what your baby needs or demands. Your breast milk is genetically designed to provide for your baby’s specific needs. So when in doubt, just latch.
Read more about breast pumps.