Low Milk Supply and What To Do About It

As a breastfeeding mom, there’s a certain triumph over 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 some moms who struggle to make enough. Which type of mama are you? Are you fearful that your milk supply is low? Here are some reasons for low milk supply and what you can do about it.

Common Reasons for Low Milk Supply

The mamas who do struggle with a very low milk supply are a small percentage. If you think yours 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?

When your baby is getting plenty of breast milk, your body responds to the removal of that milk by making more. One of the most common reasons for a low breast milk supply is the baby not getting a good breastfeeding latch. 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. This may be a time for having 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 it could decrease your milk supply. The more you have your baby at your breast, the more your body is stimulated into making a healthy supply. This could also result in your baby not getting enough milk and nutrients. It’s best to breastfeed your baby whenever he’s showing signs of hunger especially during the first few weeks. You may also need to wake him every few hours to make sure he’s getting to your breast and keeping the supply pumping.

How long is your baby nursing at each feeding?

A good estimate is to have a newborn nurse for about 10 minutes on each side. 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 can 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 you’re 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 you 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. The main thing is to make sure your baby is growing at a healthy consistent rate.  

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