Almost all mothers will wonder if they have a low milk supply at one point or another. It is especially common for mothers to question their milk supply when they first start breast feeding. Some common reasons for these doubts include if the milk is no longer leaking from the nipples or the breasts don’t feel as full as they did before.
It is also possible that if your baby is going through a growth spurt they will want to drink more milk than normal which could lead to your breasts feeling less full than you are used to. Although most of the time mothers have enough breast milk, it is possible to have a low milk supply and if this occurs, the baby can have an increased risk of malnutrition.
Causes of Low Milk Supply
There are some possible reasons that a mother may temporarily experience a decrease in her milk supply. The most common reasons are if they baby has a poor latch-on technique, the baby isn’t being fed often enough or the baby is lethargic when nursing. It is also possible for certain birth control pills (with estrogen) or illnesses to affect the amount of breast milk that is produced. In some cases a physical or biological condition will lead to low milk supply and this can be something such as breast surgery or a hormonal disorder.
Despite this, most of the time when a woman experiences low milk supply, the production itself is fine and the problem is actually with the delivery process with the most common reason being that the latch-on technique is incorrect.
Many woman wonder if a low milk supply will affect their child and the reality is that it may. If, for example, your baby doesn’t get as much milk as he needs, it is possible that he will experience failure to thrive in which he grows slower than his peers. If your baby is losing weight or simply isn’t gaining it, you should talk to your doctor right away to solve the problem. Most of the time, a simple switch in breastfeeding technique can solve the problem.
How to Increase Milk Supply
If you want to increase your milk supply, there are several different things that you can do, some that involve seeing a professional and some which you can do yourself, below are general tips:
- Visit a lactation professional who will weigh your child and give you advice on boosting the milk supply
- Feed your baby more often as this will stimulate your body, encouraging it to increase milk production
- Make sure that you are using the best latch-on technique (and consult a lactation professional if necessary)
- If your baby starts to slow down with their swallowing and sucking pattern, you can increase the milk flow using breast compression. You can also switch sides while using this method as necessary.
- Never supplement the feedings with formula or solid food unless your doctor recommends it.
- Have your baby get comfort from your nipples instead of a pacifier to increase milk production.
- When your baby is tired, he may be more inclined to nurse vigorously which could increase stimulation and therefore milk production. To help keep him awake, change positions, undress him or play with him.
- Consider getting your thyroid level checked if it is a production issue and not a delivery problem.
1. Proper Diet
Another method to increase your milk supply is to make sure that you are getting proper nutrition which means at least 1800 calories each day and drinking 6 or more glasses of fluids. Dieting can decrease your milk production so you must always be careful when doing so.
You should make sure that you are getting enough calcium in your diet. This is crucial to making sure that your child’s bones will grow strong and healthy. Great dietary sources of calcium include dairy (and you should always pick organic options), specific fish (salmon and sardines) and leafy green vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables
You should also be sure to consume a great deal of fruits and vegetables. These contain essential fiber, vitamins and minerals and can therefore ensure your baby gets adequate nutrition.
When choosing your meat, always go with lean meat instead of fatty cuts. This includes low-fat dairy, soy products and skinless chicken breast.
When choosing carbs, select complex ones as these are healthier than processed ones. Complex carbohydrates include whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta, brown rice and beans.
Watch a video on this point:
2. Herbal Supplements
Sometimes herbal supplements as well as prescription medications may increase your milk production but you should always discuss this with a doctor before you start taking anything. Some common herbal supplements include red raspberry, blessed thistle and fenugreek. In some cases your doctor may prescribe metoclopramide if nothing else seems to be helping your milk production.
A final method that you can try is to pump your breast milk in addition to feeding your child. This serves a double purpose as it helps you store milk for times you are not available and the act of pumping will also stimulate milk production.
Some women find pumping uncomfortable so it is important to invest in a good pump. You may even be able to rent a hospital-grade one.
When it comes to pumping duration, there are a few main options. You can either try to pump 15 minutes of every several hours or pump for between 5 and 10 minutes after you nurse. If you want to quickly increase milk production, try to pump 8 times or more within a day.
You should always pump both of your breasts as this will stimulate both of them, greatly increasing milk production.
If you are interested in learning about more natural remedies that can help you increase your milk supply, then take a look at the following video: