Supply and Demand Breastfeeding

Supply and demand is a phrase you probably heard about in your high school business class. If there’s ample supply, and demand drops, you’re left with too much. But if you’ve got little supply and a ton of demand, you can raise your prices and make boatloads of money.

But with breastfeeding, supply and demand doesn’t exactly work in the same way.

As soon as baby is born, mom’s milk supply will be based on a supply and demand system in that the amount of new milk she makes depends on how much milk is excreted from her breast (by nursing or pumping). 

FREQUENCY COUNTS

The key is to breastfeed a lot in the beginning. The frequency of breastfeeding in the first two to three weeks really sets the tone for the nursing journey. Research shows that if mom feeds an average of 9.9 times a day in the first two weeks, her milk production is greater, baby gains more weight and will continue nursing for a longer period of time.  

So the longer baby suckles on your breast, the more milk you will produce. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ site describes the process simply:

“Suckling stimulates nerve endings in your breast, sending a message to your brain that results in the release of the hormone prolactin. This plays a major role in stimulating milk to be created in your breasts using substances obtained from your bloodstream. While [baby] breastfeeds, your prolactin levels surge, ensuring continued production of milk.”

BE CAREFUL ABOUT DECLINE

But it’s important to note that if you decrease your breastfeeding rates, your milk production will also decline. Ways you might lessen the amount of breastfeeding include: 

  • restricting baby’s feeding schedule 
  • supplementing with formula, water, or sugar water 
  • using a pacifier when your infant wants to suck 

In order to continue producing milk, the amount of milk that baby removes from the breast is also important. Baby needs to alternate drinking from both of your breasts. If he favors just one, the other side could dry up. What’s more, residual milk that remains in your breast contains protein that actually prevents further production of milk. Another cause of milk reduction.

In this case, keeping up supply will be the most beneficial thing you can do for when demand increases down the road. So while baby isn’t going to pay you a lot of cash if you have less breast milk available, he’ll definitely be happy and healthy if it’s there. Wouldn’t that be awesome if you earned cash for milk? But we digress…

 

The information contained on this site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant.