Frequently asked breastfeeding questions part 2

Posted on 29 July 2014

Many women know that breastfeeding is the best choice they can make for their baby. Claire Pitt, paediatric unit manager at Mediclinic Panorama, shares what you need to know if you choose to breastfeed.

Should I give my baby water in between feeds?
If you’ve chosen to breastfeed, then your baby will need only breast milk for the first six months. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months (minimum) to two years and if able beyond. Human breast milk consists of the foremilk, which is the watery milk that baby gets at the beginning of the feed and the hindmilk, which the milk that comes at the end of the feed and is higher in fat and kilojoule content than foremilk. This means that on a hot summer’s day baby may want to have short frequent feeds – you may worry that your milk is drying up but what’s happening is that baby is thirsty and needs to quench his thirst, meaning that you don’t need to give him water.

Because every woman’s breast capacity is different, we don’t know at what point during a feed the baby gets to the hindmilk, which is why we say that once your milk ‘is in’ (around day four) you should offer baby one breast per feed. For this reason, it’s a good idea to let baby feed from and empty, one breast and then for the next feed offer the other side. This should ensure that baby gets to the rich hindmilk. Fully emptying the breasts also ensures that they will fill again. Milk is produced by supply and demand – what is removed will be replaced. This is why you shouldn’t time feeds because if you stop baby from feeding before the breast is empty, he/she may not only be receiving less kilojoules and gain weight slower, but your milk supply will also be less.

Someone told me that drinking milk stout will help with my milk supply. Is this true?
Diet and fluid intake can have little if no effect on milk supply. The latest research shows that breastfeeding moms can eat and drink everything in moderation (including chocolate and coffee). The best way to increase or sustain an adequate milk supply is by letting the baby drink from you often (two to three hourly in the beginning) and to empty your breasts. Establishing an adequate milk supply can take up to six weeks.

The theory behind the milk stout is the yeast but drinking alcohol isn’t advisable. You can drink brewers yeast, which can have an effect on your breast milk (the recommended dose is six tablets per day).

You can also drink what’s commonly known among South African midwives as jungle juice, to give you an extra boost.

Jungle juice formula
60ml Blackthorn Berry Elixir
1 sachet Blackcurrant Rehydrate
1L Apple Juice
2L Water
Add 10 drops rescue remedy per glass

Variations include leaving out the Rehydrate if it’s too sweet or replacing the Rehydrate and apple juice with Ginger Ale.

Other natural remedies include:
Fenugreek (3 tablets 3 times per day)
Fennel, Dill, Anise and Nettle tea

Be patient and try to rest as much as possible in the weeks after delivery. Emotion and fatigue can have the biggest influence on your milk supply. If you’re tired and this is impacting your supply, you may need to express for extra stimulation in between. If so, talk to your midwife or breastfeeding consultant.

Not sure if your baby is getting enough during a feed? Read more here.

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The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.