Low milk supply and what to do about it

As a breastfeeding mom, there’s a certain triumph in filling a bottle all the way to the top. And although most mamas have a healthy supply of breast milk at all times for their hungry babies, there are still many moms who struggle to make enough. 

Let’s go over some of the main reasons for low milk supply and what you can do about it – so if you are one of the moms struggling, you have some things to try. 

Common reasons for low milk supply

If you think your milk supply is low, consider the following scenarios before you give up on breastfeeding altogether or think you need to add formula to the equation.

Is your baby getting the proper breastfeeding latch?

One of the most common reasons for a low breast milk supply is that the baby is just not getting a good breastfeeding latch. When your baby is latched properly and getting plenty of breast milk, your body responds to the demand for milk by making more. If your baby doesn’t latch on correctly from the start, he may have trouble getting breast milk to come out, and your supply will suffer as a result. 

Not sure if your baby is properly latching? It’s a good idea to have a lactation specialist evaluate your breastfeeding technique. 

Are you breastfeeding often enough?

Newborns need to breastfeed at least every 2 to 3 hours in the beginning. If your baby isn’t breastfeeding enough, your milk supply will likely decrease as a result. The more you have your baby at your breast, the more your body is stimulated into making a healthy supply. It’s best to breastfeed your baby whenever he’s showing signs of hunger, especially during the first few weeks. You may need to wake him every few hours to make sure he’s getting to your breast and sending the signals to your body to keep the milk coming.

How long is your baby nursing at each feeding?

On average, your newborn should nurse for about 10 minutes on each side at each feeding. If your baby is breastfeeding less than five minutes at a time, he’s not getting enough milk and he’s not draining the milk from your breasts. This is another reason your milk supply could be affected.

Is your baby currently going through a growth spurt?

Babies who go through growth spurts can have serious appetites and appear constantly hungry. Because of the higher demand, it could seem like your supply is low. But this natural time of growth means your body has to adjust and your breast milk supply will grow too. If the baby is being put to your breast more frequently, your body will realize it needs to make more milk, and soon enough your baby will settle back down into his normal routine.

When to see a doctor about low milk supply

If your baby is latching on correctly and breastfeeding every couple of hours and you’re still not seeing an increase in breast milk supply, it’s time to visit your doctor. If your body is not making enough, your doctor can help pinpoint the underlying cause and correct it. 

Many issues associated with low milk supply can be treated successfully. In the meantime, you may need to give your baby formula or a supplement to make sure he gets enough nutrition. How do you know if your baby is getting what he needs? If he’s growing at a healthy, consistent rate or maintaining his weight, he’s likely getting everything he needs. So, be patient with your body! It’s learning, too!

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