Another very real concern for all breastfeeding mothers is inadequate milk supply. First, be reassured that most women produce more than adequate amounts of milk. Frequent visits and monitoring by trained healthcare professionals are extremely helpful. Simply put, adequate output equals adequate input. Often mothers, and particularly physicians who are used to quantifying things, are alarmed that they cannot measure intake because the milk is coming directly from the breast. If you need something to quantify, you can count the number of wet diapers instead. Newborns should have one wet diaper for each day of life maxing out after a week at six to eight wet diapers per day. You can also count the number of stools per day, which is usually several and sometimes as often as every feed. Finally, you can weigh the baby regularly. Normal infants lose up to 8% of their birth weight in the first week of life but then typically return to birth weight by ten to fourteen days of life. Considering that the entire physiologic mechanism is based on supply and demand, try to avoid supplementation if at all possible.
If you do supplement under the guidance of either your or your baby’s doctor, you could try using a supplemental nursing system (SNS) instead of a bottle with an artificial nipple. An SNS is a device that consists of a container of food with a tiny flexible straw coming out of it. The device has a rope that can be placed around your neck like a necklace. The straw can be taped to your nipple. When your baby is nursing, he or she is also getting additional food from the SNS right at the nipple. Although somewhat cumbersome, the SNS allows you to breastfeed, supplement feeds, and prevent nipple confusion all at once.