Deciding to breastfeed is a great way to supply ideal nutrition in the earliest part of your baby’s life. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Late nights with a crying baby can leave many mothers frustrated. If you’ve ever thought, “My newborn is always hungry after breastfeeding! What am I doing wrong?” you’re not alone.
First Things First
Verify whether milk supply is the real problem. Your baby can’t say, “Thanks, Mom, I’m full.” Her body can still communicate whether she’s eating enough. Use diapers and weight gain to check if your baby’s getting enough milk. Your pediatrician can tell you how many wet diapers your baby should have per day.
Not sure how “wet” a diaper should be to count? Pour 4 tablespoons of water in a clean diaper to get a feel of the weight in your hand.
If there are plenty of wet diapers and the baby is gaining 4-7 ounces a week, your pediatrician may be able to confirm that you’re feeding the baby enough.
If Your Baby Needs More Milk
If it seems that your baby truly is still hungry, don’t get discouraged! Most mothers are physically able to produce enough milk. Often, one or more changes in routine can help your body increase supply.
- Contact a lactation consultant to figure out a plan that’s effective and sustainable for your family.
- Nurse more often. Most newborns need to eat 8-12 times per day. Offering the breast more frequently or adding a few pumping sessions can stimulate your body to increase milk supply.
- Drink water and eat a balanced diet. Trying to lose weight too quickly after having a baby can affect milk supply. Take good care of yourself, as well as your little one.
- Take a “nursing-moon” if it’s feasible. I spent three days in bed nursing my 4-month-old in a rough stretch. The extra rest, skin-to-skin time, and long nursing sessions helped my supply get back on track.
- Look into herbal supplements. Fenugreek, blessed thistle, and other lactogenic foods help some women increase milk supply. Consult a doctor or lactation consultant first.
- Supplement with formula if needed. Breastmilk is your baby’s ideal food, but the “fed is best” mantra applies, too. Keep breastfeeding at the same rate, and your supply shouldn’t decrease further. A little formula can help fill the gaps, and your baby still gets the beneficial milk and antibodies from you. If you’re able to increase supply, it may even be a temporary phase.
If the Crying Means Something Else
So your baby is gaining weight well, but screams after every breastfeed. It’s time to look for other solutions.
Gas pain can cause crying. Newborns prone to reflux may also have a rough time after a feed. Burp your baby after every nurse (or even when you switch sides). “Bicycle legs” and belly rubs may help babies work out some gas. Holding your baby upright for a while after a feeding may reduce reflux symptoms. Your pediatrician can also advise you on strategies to keep your baby comfortable.
Babies may also cry for extra touch and cuddling. After all, while you were pregnant they were carried 24 hours a day! Babywearing, rocking, and swaddling can recreate the soothing snugness and rhythm of life in the womb.
In the end, some babies simply cry more than others. It’s hard, but it doesn’t mean parents are doing anything wrong, or that the newborn isn’t a “good” baby. The world is big and bewildering! The comfort measures above may help. If they don’t, give yourself and your partner a break when you can. Take a walk or get a cup of coffee. You may have to wait a little longer for first smiles and coos, but you have just as many sweet moments to look forward to as parents with an easier start.