How healthcare providers can help parents with their milk supply

Healthcare providers play a pivotal role in the success or disappointment of parents who choose to breast/chestfeed. Support, education and encouragement prenatally begins a successful breast/chestfeeding journey for the feeding dyad. In order for new families to be educated by their HCPs, the HCP needs to be educated. Some key messages families need to hear about the first few days postpartum are:

  1. Skin to skin contact – Parent-infant SSC and initiation of breast/chestfeeding within the first hour after birth has beneficial effects on feeding and can increase the success rate and duration of the first lactation. Hospital policies that make this practice a priority for all have shown to make an impact long term (Source)
  2. Nip it in the bud – Addressing any seemingly small issues like latch or milk supply immediately rather than waiting a day or two can prevent morbidities like lost milk supply, sore or bleeding nipples, or infections. If a HCP practice does not have a certified lactation consultant on staff, get to know the IBCLCs in your area so you can readily refer to them when issues with patient dyads come up.
  3. Empty the breast – While the lactating breast is never really empty, sage advice is to remove milk so that the body knows to make more milk. If baby is not effectively removing milk, then an effective pump is needed to do so. Putting baby to chest 8-12 or more times per day is the rule of thumb. Newborns may need to just hang out on the chest skin to skin during the first few days so they have unlimited access. There is no magic herb, food, supplement, tea, tincture, etc. that is proven to do more for your supply than regular, frequent milk removal.

Read additional resources about maintaining a great milk supply from Breastfeeding Medicine and AAP. You can also find an IBCLC using this directory from the International Lactation Consultant Association here. Breastfeeding USA has a free warmline, as well: 612.293.6622

Join us for Baby Cafe! We host a free parent-to-parent support group every Friday, facilitated by a certified lactation consultant. Stop by our office Fridays between 11am-1pm for free lactation support, bonding, and community. Learn more here.