If your milk supply is suddenly lower don’t panic just yet! Check out these tips to find out why your milk supply is low and learn how to improve it.
One of the number one misconceptions about breastfeeding is low milk supply. Many moms believe their supply is low but in reality it’s actually doing great! I explained this further in a blog post I did a few weeks ago and you can read that HERE.
If you have determined that your milk supply is in fact low you are left with a few decisions to make. Some moms at this point feel like switching to formula all together or they are content with supplementing. If that mama is you then by all means do whatever makes you happy!
I am a huge breastfeeding advocate and will always encourage other moms to do the same but ultimately it’s a personal decision. Not everyone has the same goals as me and that’s fine!
But what if that person isn’t you? Maybe you are the mama who had a goal to breastfeed for at minimum one year.
Suddenly, your milk supply has dropped and panic sets in. I know it must be such a horrible feeling to have your heart set on that goal only to find out that its not going how you planned.
Take a breather mama! Pat yourself on the back for giving it all you’ve got. I won’t promise that these tips will bring you loads of milk but I have all my fingers crossed that something will help.
Why Is My Milk Supply Low Video
Determine the cause
So before you can increase milk supply you need to determine why it’s low in the first place. There’s a number of causes that can contribute to this. You may have more than one factor or it could be a simple fix.
Infrequent feeds or pumping sessions
One of the more common causes of low milk supply is because you aren’t breastfeeding or pumping as often as you should. Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. If there’s no demand for more milk, you can’t expect your body to make more.
The “Top Up” Trap
Something I see all the time is moms falling into the “top up trap.”
Many are worried their baby is not getting enough breast milk or the pediatrician has suggested supplementing with formula. What happens is a mom will breastfeed for a few minutes and then top their baby off with a few ounces of formula. The problem with that is you are taking away time spent on the breast. Instead of letting your baby breastfeed for longer you have cut the session short when you give him a bottle.
What you should be doing instead is pumping EVERY SINGLE TIME your baby has a bottle. If you completely miss a nursing session you have to pump and waiting 3 hours later won’t cut it. You need to pump ideally right around the same time baby has a bottle. Even if you have just nursed him and topped off with formula, be sure to pump for 15 mins to make up for it.
Following A Schedule
Something else I see a lot is moms trying to follow a schedule. I’ll admit as a first time mom I did this for a little bit. They told me at the hospital to feed every 3-4 hours so that’s what I did. I followed the clock and done as I thought was the right thing.
That’s not the right thing.
Maybe for formula moms but you are a breastfeeding mama and it works a bit differently. You need to be breastfeeding on demand which means that anytime your baby wants to nurse, let him. It doesn’t matter if he just nursed 20 minutes ago, feed him again. It will help your milk supply and keep baby satisfied too!
Skipping The Night Feeds
I’ve had several moms tell me that their husband is on baby duty at night, which means that not only does he change the diapers but is in charge of feeding the baby as well.
Remember what I said about supply and demand? It doesn’t just stop working through the night. You still need to be waking to breastfeed throughout the night, even if you exclusively pump. Set an alarm for every 3-4 hours and wake your baby for a feeding if they don’t end up being your alarm clock!
Not Adequately Stimulating The Breast
Chances are if your baby has a bad latch then you are well aware because it’s gonna hurt like the dickens. Not only is it painful, but it could also be causing your low milk supply.
For a letdown to start, there has to be stimulation and no, I don’t mean your nipples. The areola and breast tissue surrounding your nipples are actually what helps aide in a letdown, thus letting the milk flow! So, doesn’t it make sense that your baby’s mouth needs to cover more than just the nipple?
If the latch is too shallow, meaning not wide enough, then it results in less stimulation and in turn less milk. You want your baby’s mouth to cover as much of your areola (darkened area around your breast) as possible. Look for the upper and lower lips to be flanged out like a fish’s mouth.
If you are having trouble, it’s important to talk to a lactation consultant and an experienced breastfeeding mama to help correct that latch!
Not Pumping Correctly
I experienced this first hand when my oldest was a baby. While I was pumping at college I noticed that I was getting less and less milk. I thought something was majorly wrong with my pump because I did not have any problems with a different brand I was using.
After a long phone call with customer service I was told that I had been pumping incorrectly. Most double electric pumps come with extra flanges (also called shields) to help get a perfect fit. Of course not everyone’s nipples are the same size! I was using the smallest size it came with but it was still too big. I received their smallest size the next day in the mail and it made such a difference!
To figure out what size you need, do a test run. If your nipples rub against the sides of the flange then you are using too small of a size. If your areola gets sucked inside along with the nipple, it’s too big. With a perfect fit, only the nipple will be pulled inside and no rubbing should occur.
Neglecting Your Health
Not Drinking Enough Water
This has personally been a hard one for me. I’ve never been one to drink enough water but it’s so important! Breast milk is made up of mostly water so it makes sense that the less you drink the less milk you would produce.
Something that helped me was to fill up the largest water bottle you have and bring it with you wherever you go. It will be a constant reminder to drink water! If you have to set an alarm every so often to remind yourself.
Not Consuming Enough Calories
Breast feeding takes up a lot of energy in our bodies. To burn energy, you have to fuel your body with nutrients and calories. If you don’t get enough calories in your diet there won’t be enough energy for your body to produce breast milk.
I know with a newborn it easy to forget to eat, especially if you have other children too. Try as hard as you can to eat healthy and well. Eat several small snacks if you have to. Keep bananas and granola bars out in plain sight so you can easily grab it and go.
This is a big one! If you are constantly worried about getting a low milk supply, there’s a good chance that you will end up having one. It’s easier said than done but do everything you can to limit stress in your life.
You can expect a dip in milk supply if you start a new job, move homes, a death in the family, among many other overwhelming situations. It’s usually temporary but if you don’t eliminate or at least lower the stress it may never get better.
Talk with your doctor about medications that are compatible with breastfeeding. Some medications will dry up your milk and make it impossible to produce. If you are currently taking an incompatible medication see if it can be switched to something that will not hurt your milk supply.
Let’s talk about Fenugreek! It’s that sweet smelling supplement thought to help increase milk supply in breastfeeding moms. Some people swear by it and say that it works great!
I actually bought Fenugreek and intended on using it with my son during the time I thought I had a dip in my milk supply. I had a lactation consultant warn me that it may do more harm than good. In some women it has the opposite affect and can actually make the problem worse. Not wanting to chance it, I threw my bottle away.
Essential oils is another one you need to be careful with because some can dry up your milk. I know that Peppermint is one of those so I made sure to stay away from that when my daughter was younger.
If you have had a breast surgery then you may or may not be able to produce a full milk supply. In the case of a reduction, breast tissue is removed but that is also removing some of your milk ducts. If you have had a reduction be aware that you may always have to supplement with formula.
What Have You Done To Help Increase Supply?
Let me know in the comments what you have tried to help with milk production! What has worked? What hasn’t worked? Spill the beans!
Pin It For Later