"You don't need to express breast milk after you have a baby."

And that’s not all.

Expressing milk in hospital is now a given for most women after they have a baby. I’m here to say you do not need to express or pump breast milk after you have a baby. This does not apply if you have a premature or sick baby in the nursery that is unable to suck.

A lot of women buy breast pumps thinking they need to express breast milk in order to make enough milk for their baby. Let the baby do the work! Initially let the baby suck and suck and suck. The baby needs food, it’s all about food. The baby is not crying from wind, or because he has not burped, or he has a wet or dirty nappy, he needs food. It’s that simple.

If you are having trouble attaching the baby onto the breast be patient, wrap the baby, keep the baby close. If the baby is sleepy (which he will be in the first few days as babies hibernate after the initial wakeful period after birth) offer him a small amount of formula.

Formula is NOT poison. It is food made for babies and it is safe. The alternative of pumping all the time is not sustainable. The baby needs to feed constantly to get enough milk for growth and weight gain.

"Formula is NOT poison. It is food made for babies and it is safe."

About 24 to 48 hours after you’ve given birth, your milk increases from colostrum to breast milk. It takes about six weeks for your lactation to establish, so don’t try and hurry it along. Let the baby do the sucking. It’s the best way to stimulate the breast. We don’t need to hurry nature.

Going home with a new baby and expressing milk, breast feeding, giving the expressed milk in a bottle all take so much time and it is not sustainable physically or emotionally. All the women I talk to say they get very anxious when they cannot express the correct amount for the baby and I hear about a lot of women who give up breast feeding as they are expressing.

Expressing your milk does not increase your milk supply. It is so much better to give your baby the breast, let him suck and then offer a top up of formula if your milk supply is low. Believe me, if you follow this simple plan you will breast feed longer if you add some calories and the baby gains weight (especially in the first few weeks) and your lactation increases.

Be patient.

This post originally appeared on Midwife Cath and has been republished here with full permission.

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