It is recommended, by the World Health Organisation, that a mother should exclusively breastfeed her child for six months. But according to research published on International Breastfeeding Journal, fewer mothers in the capital, Nairobi, do breastfeed exclusively when they return to work.
Exclusive breastfeeding has been greatly emphasized because of the health benefits breast milk has to newborns. When speaking at a 2014 World Breastfeeding Week event, speaker Catherine Mueke stated that breast milk is the best source of nutrients that a newborn needs. These nutrients are important for physical and mental development.
Mothers too benefit from breastfeeding. According to Mueke, breastfeeding helps in recovering faster from delivery, reduces maternal stress, reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer, helps with weightloss, among other benefits.
Inasmuch as mothers are encouraged to breastfeed, it’s not uncommon to find mothers who are unable to produce breast milk. Various factors contribute to this as discussed below.
Verywell family lists stress as a reason why a mother can lack or produce little breastmilk. As a mother you can be stressed about many things.
Squabbles in your relationships, physical exhaustion, worry and anxiety all contribute to stress and can affect how much breast milk a mother produces.
If you’re shy to breastfeed in public, look for somewhere private where you can do it without worrying about people’s stares. Dealing with any emotional stresses will also help to ease your mind.
A mother also needs to get adequate rest to recover from the demands of caring for a newborn and running their household.
Some medications used to treat common ailments like cold and flu contain compounds that can reduce the amount of breastmilk that you produce. Another form of medication to be wary of is birth control pills. Some contain high levels of oestrogen which can bring about a reduction of breastmilk.
Should you fall ill, ensure you inform the doctor that you are breastfeeding so that they give you safe medication.
If you want to use contraception, ask your doctor to recommend one that is safe for you and the baby. Non-hormonal contraceptives work best.
Changes in lifestyle can cause a mother to produce little breastmilk. Many mothers in urban centres are forced to leave their babies at home and go to work. This reduces the frequency of breastfeeding. This reduction indicates to your body that you don’t need as much breastmilk as it is producing. This will bring about a low production of breastmilk.
Delays in breastfeeding also can also indicate to your body that it should produce less breastmilk.
To counter this, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed as often as possible and if they are unable to, they can express the milk and store it for future use.
Smoking and drinking alcohol too have a negative effect on breastmilk production. Alcohol goes a step further changing the flavour of the breastmilk. Your baby will breastfeed less in effect reducing the production of breastmilk. Alcohol can also get into the breastmilk which means the baby will drink it. This will slow down your baby’s development. It is better to stop smoking all together and in the case of alcohol limit it to a glass of wine occasionally.