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But, this happiness can somewhat dwindle when you find yourself clueless on how to increase milk supply for your little one.
If you believe that your milk production isn’t good enough, you are not alone. I myself struggled with the same thing when I had my second child. In fact, it’s been estimated that between 1 to 5 percent of women suffer from low breast milk supply!
So don’t despair, momma. This issue has been dealt with by many women before, which means that many women have also tried (and actually found) solutions. The reasons behind low milk supply may vary from one mom to another, but you’d find that some issues are actually fairly easy to remedy while others may require some help from professionals.The reasons behind #lowmilksupply may vary from one mom to another, but you’d find that some issues are actually fairly easy to remedy. Click To Tweet
In this guide, I’ll help you find the telltale signs that your baby isn’t getting enough breast milk. I’ll also share some tips on how to produce more breast milk and walk you through some lactation myths that could be affecting your breastfeeding journey. Let’s start!
Signs of Low Breast Milk Supply
Common Causes of Low Breast Milk Supply
Tips on How to Increase Milk Supply
Some Milk Supply Myths and Facts
How can you tell if you’re having milk supply issues? Your baby is your best indicator, and there are a few signs you should look out for.
You should watch your baby’s weight very closely a week or two after they are born. If they don’t start gaining weight and stay within range of their birth weight, you may have a low milk supply problem.
It’s normal for your baby’s pee to be a light yellow color. But if it’s almost orange and they seem dehydrated, then you might not be providing them with enough milk. Dark pee may also be associated with dehydration and jaundice, which are both pretty serious problems.
Your baby’s diapers don’t need to be changed that often during the first few days postpartum. But, if the number of diaper changes doesn’t increase after five or six days, then it’s possible that your baby isn’t getting enough breast milk.
Babies normally wet their diapers at least six to eight times in one day. However, do note that exclusively breastfed (EBF) babies may go for days to a week without pooping—and that’s absolutely normal.
There are actually quite a few reasons why moms experience milk supply issues. Here are some of the more common ones:
When I say medical issues, I mean health problems that already existed before you had a baby, such as thyroid disorders, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), diabetes, and other hormonal problems.
Other medical woes that can also cause milk supply problems include rare conditions like mammary hypoplasia (a condition where a mother doesn’t have enough glandular tissues for breastmilk production), breast trauma, and surgical histories like breast reduction and implants (case to case).
Another possible cause of low milk supply is when a part of your placenta gets left behind in your womb, or when you suffered from excessive blood loss when you delivered your baby. These two issues can lower milk supply and even delay milk production.
If you don’t breastfeed often enough, you will naturally find your milk supply slowly dwindling away. Milk production follows the demand and supply principle, so if your body doesn’t sense that there’s a demand (because your baby isn’t feeding on your breasts), it will not trigger your milk production.
To remedy this, you need to make sure your baby feeds 8 to 12 times a day. Watch out for hunger cues, and then breastfeed your baby right away. Breast pumping is also a great way to empty your breasts, especially if your baby has trouble latching.
Latching issues will make it hard for your baby to breastfeed. There could be several reasons behind why your baby won’t latch; it could be due to a lip and tongue tie, cleft lip, a high-arched palate, or even non-anatomical issues.
Regardless of the cause, failing to latch properly is frustrating for babies as well as for moms. And if your baby cannot suckle properly, that could lower or even stop your breast milk production since the current supply hasn’t been fully drained.
You have to remember that what you ingest is what you give to your baby. If you eat or drink less after giving birth, chances are, you’ll also be feeding your baby less since you won’t be producing enough milk. That’s why, if you’re planning on breastfeeding exclusively, going on a strict diet is not a good idea at this point.
I understand that some mommas want to lose some of their postpartum weight fast. If that’s you, then I suggest waiting until breastfeeding is well-established, which usually happens in around two months postpartum.
Some medications can cause your milk to dry up. Examples of these are some cough and cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine and antihistamines. Birth control pills can also reduce or altogether stop milk production. With that, be sure to consult your doctor before taking any meds while breastfeeding.
Although stress and anxiety may seem like natural companions of postpartum moms, you actually need to avoid them as much as you can. Stress can kill your breast milk production and affect your let-down reflex, mainly due to the stress hormone cortisol.
Getting the flu or some virus after giving birth can also have an adverse effect on your milk supply—not because of the bug but because of its effects. If you find yourself losing appetite or experiencing vomiting or diarrhea because of your illness, then these conditions could reduce your milk production too.
Supplementing with formula means that your baby will be breastfeeding less and less. And you already know what happens to milk supply when the demand decreases, right?
I’m a firm believer in exclusive breastfeeding and breast pumping. But if you find yourself having to supplement, I recommend asking your pediatrician to recommend a formula. Also, never go for homemade formulas that could harm your baby.
Using a pacifier is one of the easiest ways to silence a crying baby. But, it’s also one of the most effective ways to decrease your milk supply!
When your baby suckles on a pacifier, you may fail to note their hunger cues. This will mean they will breastfeed less, which in turn reduces your milk production.When your baby suckles on a #pacifier, you may fail to note their #hungercues. This will mean they will breastfeed less, which in turn reduces your #milkproduction. Click To Tweet
Is using a pacifier all that bad? Well, not completely. The American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends using pacifiers during nap hours, but only when breastfeeding has been well established. They also recommend weaning from pacifiers after a baby’s sixth month to avoid ear infections.
This phenomenon is the subject of many studies, and it revolves around the idea that moms who believe they don’t have enough milk supply eventually prove themselves right.
The truth is that most seemingly concerning infant behaviors (fussiness, cluster feeding, baby taking a bottle after breastfeeding, etc.) don’t always mean that the baby isn’t getting enough milk. Even your pumping output is not an accurate indicator of your milk supply!
Lack of factual knowledge is primarily to blame for many momma’s frustrations. Thankfully, there are a few remedies that you can try!
Now that you know some of the reasons why your milk supply may be dwindling, it’s time to list down the possible remedies to such a problem.
It’s crucial to nurse whenever your baby shows signs of wanting to suckle. It doesn’t matter if they’re hungry or not. If they want to go on the boob, it makes sense to give it to them.
Constant nursing will also signal your body to produce more milk, which in turn will result in just that.
You need to feed from both breasts at each feeding to ensure that both replenish their supply of milk. If you can’t do this, or your baby stops feeding before you get to your other breast, pump the milk from it so that it’s drained and stimulated to produce more. You may also use a Haakaa silicone breast pump on your other breast to suction its letdown.
This is a method a lot of moms swear by. Myself included!
Basically, what you need to do is pump your breasts soon after breastfeeding your little one. It’s still the law of supply and demand that’s in play here, and increasing the demand by pumping after feeding will signal your breasts to increase the supply.
If your baby has latching problems, one of the solutions you can try is to pump more frequently to simulate frequent breastfeeding. Since pumping simulates the suckling of your baby, your breasts will try to make more milk as you pump more regularly.Since pumping simulates the suckling of your baby, your breasts will try to make more milk as you pump more regularly. Click To Tweet
Massaging your boobies may help you express breast milk better, whether via direct breastfeeding or pumping.
Moms who experience pain during breastfeeding can also get some relief from breast massage, which may lower stress levels.
This is one of the simplest tips when it comes to increasing milk supply. Simply put, your body can’t produce enough milk without the necessary fluids. So mommas, drink enough liquids and help your body manufacture the nourishment your baby needs.
Eating well also helps your body produce the milk your baby needs. If you can, try to eat as much as you can of foods that can aid in lactation, like leafy greens, eggs, tofu, lean meat, nuts and seeds, alfalfa sprouts, and natural galactagogues.
Natural galactagogues (like moringa, dates, and whole oats) have worked wonders for me. These foods and herbs are highly effective in increasing milk supply, and they’re actually one of the biggest reasons why I founded Milksta!
Natural galactagogues rarely have any side effects if taken in the right dose. Personally, I also tried taking a pharmaceutical galactagogue, domperidone, when I had milk supply issues with my second son. It actually worked, but it also gave me palpitations and made me feel dizzy and uncoordinated.
Those side-effects made me stick to more natural options, which are exactly the ingredients I use in all Milksta brews.
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If you don’t want to eat plain oatmeal or you’re not keen on adding herbs to your drink, why not make the experience more fun by creating yummy lactation snacks?
Bake your favorite cookie and add oats, fenugreek, or flaxseed to the dough. You can even make oatmeal cookies with flaxseed and brewer’s yeast (plus some chocolate chips for a treat) in it for a full-on lactation treat.
I know that breastfeeding is hard. But if you really want to succeed in it, then you should resist the temptation to give your baby formula, even if it may seem like the most convenient option.
If you have to go back to work (even if you’re working from home), breast pumping is the way to go. It also helps to connect with other breastfeeding moms, so you have a support system when the journey gets extra tough.
Don’t get your baby started on pacifiers until you’ve established good breastfeeding habits with your baby. Pacifiers may satisfy your baby’s need to suckle, but it doesn’t satisfy their hunger. Also, as mentioned earlier, a pacifier could result in you missing your little one’s hunger cues.
Also worth mentioning is to let your baby sleep without swaddling. Swaddled babies cannot move much, so they have limited ways of letting you know they’re hungry. To help you immediately sense if your baby is stirring to wake up or showing signs of hunger, I suggest removing the swaddle or loosening it at the very least. I also suggest reading this guide on safe swaddling.
Want to up your pumping game? Try power pumping! This simulates cluster feeding, which is also something that helps increase breast milk production.
There are a few ways to power pump, which you can read about in this power pumping guide.
If all else fails, a certified lactation consultant may be able to help. They can get down to the bottom of why your milk supply isn’t as adequate as it should be and guide you into the best remedies that fit your current situation as well as your baby’s needs.
No matter where you live on the planet, I’m pretty sure that you’ve had your share of stories about why you’re not producing enough milk for your baby. This is usually paired with stories on how you can increase milk supply by doing some weird ritual or eating some strange food.
Here are some of those myths and the truths that can help dispel them.
If there’s one untruth that cracks me up every time someone says it to me, it’s this one.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an A cup or a D cup! As long as you start breastfeeding the moment your baby arrives, your breasts will start to produce milk. I have a friend who had size 32 cup A breasts before she had a baby. But when she started breastfeeding and her breasts were producing enough milk, she had to buy a bra that was a size 36 cup D.
While it’s hygienic to have clean breasts every time you feed your baby, washing them before every feeding isn’t necessary. It’s a good practice to wipe them with a clean towel, yes, but remember that they are not the same as the nipples used on bottles.
Your nipples are actually equipped with their own bacteria-killing oils (which are the same natural oils you need to keep your nipples supple and protected), so you don’t want to worry about cleaning them too much.
This is one of the more ludicrous myths surrounding breast milk supply. Let’s dispel this myth right here and right now since it’s virtually impossible to stop the flow of breastmilk in a snap. Breastmilk production will slowly dissipate when you stop breastfeeding, but it won’t just suddenly stop out of the blue.Breastmilk production will slowly dissipate when you stop #breastfeeding, but it won’t just suddenly stop out of the blue. Click To Tweet
This may seem crazy, but this myth actually has some truth in it. Since what we ingest usually passes on into the milk, if you eat a spicy burrito at lunch, chances are, some of that spiciness (albeit a very little amount) will translate into your milk.
This doesn’t mean you should change your eating habits though since your baby is generally used to your tastes in food (they were in your womb while you scarfed down that bag of Doritos, you know), but scaling down the spiciness a bit may be a good idea.
There is no scientific evidence that proves this claim. But, for people who say that caffeine did affect their supply, there may be another cause-and-effect relationship at play.
Caffeine in breast milk may make a baby fussy and jittery, so they cannot nurse well. The caffeine itself does not lower the supply, but the irregular nursing and lack of breast stimulation will eventually lead your body to produce less and less milk.
Drinking beer to increase milk supply may sound like a stupid suggestion, but then again, maybe not that stupid either. The reason why this suggestion makes sense is that beer is made using barley and yeast, which are actually galactagogues.
Alcohol is a no-no, of course, especially for mommas who have preterm and sensitive babies. So if you’re thinking of using beer or wine to help increase your milk supply, then you might want to find a non-alcoholic substitute or limit your alcohol intake to a standard drink at a time.
At the end of the day, increasing your milk supply is dependent on what you do and what your physiology is. If you’re one of the few who have trouble with breastfeeding due to health concerns or any of the reasons listed above, consulting with a doctor on what to do may give you the solutions you need.
If for any reason, you really cannot breastfeed your baby, there are alternatives that are available to you (like breast milk banks and milk donation groups).
For mommas who are already producing breast milk, always keep in mind the law of supply and demand. If you want to increase your milk, make sure to drain your breasts as much as you can so your body will be obliged to produce more. You can also depend on natural galactagogues and our line of Milksta lactation drinks to help you boost your milk production.