If you search over the internet for content regarding breast milk you’ll mostly come across topics restricted to breast feeding and breast cancer etc. This is so because most women pay major attention to breast feeding timing and skills while the breast milk drying up is usually neglected.
Although breast feeding or in other words nursing of a baby is very essential to understand, yet it does not mean that it is everything you must be concerned about. The breast milk starts drying up sooner or later depending on various factors. Some women experience milk drying at an early stage while for others it takes longer than expected. A common phenomenon considered here is that the longer you nurse your baby, the longer it takes for the breast milk to dry up. However, there’s a lot to understand and learn under this topic.
Breasts are organs in the female body that are responsible for providing milk while they are in the nursing period. These organs work their best when the female gives birth and has to feed the baby. But they milk production does not remain active always. Sooner or later the milk starts drying up which means that the breasts gradually decrease the supply of milk, and it ultimately diminishes to no milk at all.
Usually mothers start experiencing tenderness and softness in their breasts after a few weeks of nursing. This is absolutely normal. What happens is that the milk production in the female body works exactly like a demand and supply mechanism. There is a period when the demand and supply are high, and after sometime as the demand drops, the supply starts to drop as well. This empty or soft feeling in the breast means that the milk is drying up.
Women often confuse milk supply adjustment with milk drying up. In the beginning, the breasts feel full and hard because the breasts are fully ready to feed milk. This might seem to be as an oversupply as the body has not ascertained the actual amount of milk that the nursing process would consume. Once the nursing starts, the body adopts and learns the feeding demand and then adjusts the production accordingly. So the body reduces the supply of milk to the amount that is actually needed, which results in softening of breasts and an emptiness feeling. This is where females often mistake to think that their milk is drying up. However, it is merely a natural adjustment of milk production. There are specific ways/symptoms for confirming if the breast milk is drying up.
The best way to ascertain whether your breast milk is drying up is to simply observe your baby. The baby’s contentedness, soiled diapers and weight gain are the indicators that tell you if the breast is feeding adequate quantity of milk or not. The drying up could span from a couple of weeks to as long as a year. It basically depends on how long you have been nursing. As stated earlier, the longer you nurse, the longer it takes your breast milk to dry up. Following are the ways in which you can effectively observe your baby and find out if your breast milk is drying out.
This is a very simple task. Just check your baby’s diapers regularly. The level of wetness in the diapers indicates the amount of milk that the baby is getting. Comparatively drier diapers clearly indicate a decrease in consumption of milk by the baby. Hence, your breasts are drying out.
You may also observe your breasts to find out the amount of milk they are producing and compare the readings from time to time. For this, simply place a washcloth on your breast for a couple of minutes. Now remove the washcloth and softly press your nipple in order to squeeze out some milk. Do this regularly and a decrease in the readings would indicate that the milk is drying out.
One of the most effective ways to find out if your breasts are lacking milk production is to observe how the baby behaves while feeding. Note if the baby suckles on your breast as soon as he is brought near it. If not, offer the baby the second breast. Note the time period for which the baby feeds and closely pay attention to the gulping sounds while the baby swallows milk. If the baby nurses for shorter spans, it means you are drying up. Same goes for the gulping sounds. Fewer sounds mean lower quantities are being swallowed by the baby.
The most basic method is to simply check your breasts. If the breasts are softer then before and you feel lighter in that part of the body, it clearly means that your breasts are producing lower amount of milk. But the softened breasts do not definitely state that you are drying up. It might as well be the body adjusting the supply of milk according to the baby’s consumption.
Always try to remain calm and relaxed while nursing the baby, whether your breast milk is drying out or not. If you have any doubts regarding the breast milk drying up, you can definitely use the above methods to ascertain for surety. In case the lower production of milk is just the body’s natural adjustment towards demand of milk, all you need to do is gradually increase the number of times you nurse the baby. This expresses an increase in demand and the body accordingly increases the supply of milk.
Another essential point in this regard is that with time, both the mother and the baby get more skilled in the nursing process. This increases the nursing speed and the baby takes lesser time in the feeding. This is normal and is not be confused as an indication of breast milk drying out.