Breastfeeding works on supply and demand. If your baby is feeding more, you will produce more milk. If your baby starts feeding less, your breasts will reduce how much milk they produce. Many women worry about low milk supply, but most of the time, there is nothing to worry about. If your baby is gaining weight well on a diet of just breast milk, and is producing plenty of wet and dirty diapers, there’s usually nothing to worry about. If you feel concerned, however, it’s always worth chatting to your healthcare provider for reassurance.
What causes low milk supply?
A lactation consultant or breastfeeding peer supporter should be able to offer you expertise regarding your supply. The following things can sometimes contribute to low milk supply:
- supplementation – if you are supplementing with formula, this will reduce the amount of time your baby spends at the breast. Pacifiers can have the same effect. To try and increase supply, reduce the number of bottle feeds you give to your baby.
- nipple preference – if you’ve been bottle feeding your baby, your baby may have cottoned on to the fact that drinking from a bottle requires less effort. To breastfeed, your baby must suck to stimulate the flow of milk. With a bottle, the flow is instant. To try and encourage your baby back to the breast, try cutting down on bottle feeds.
- sticking to schedule – if you’re feeding your baby according to a schedule, this could affect your supply. Breastfeeding on demand is one of the best ways to encourage a healthy milk supply.
- sleepiness – if you have a sleepy baby, your baby may not be spending enough time breastfeeding each day. Be sure to wake your baby every few hours to offer feeds for the first few weeks. You may also want to try and keep your baby awake during feeds, you can do this by gently blowing on her face as she drifts off at the breast.
- breastfeeding obstacles – improper latch, tongue tie and the use of nipple shields are just some of the things that could be restricting how much milk your baby is able to get each feed. If you think a breastfeeding barrier is to blame, make an appointment to see a lactation consultant for advice.
- your health – your health could be impacting your milk supply. Hypothyroidism, smoking and hormonal problems could all contribute to a decreased supply.
To increase your supply, you should offer the breast frequently. You should also offer both breasts during a feed, and ensure the first breast is properly drained before offering the second. A lactation consultant is best placed to offer advice on any breastfeeding issues you may have, so make an appointment to see one as soon as possible.
Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.