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If you're concerned that you're not producing enough milk for your little one— you’re not alone. During the first few weeks of nursing, it’s common for moms to experience changes in milk supply, and also to know that a decrease doesn’t necessarily mean your baby isn’t getting enough. So, it’s important to understand when a reduction in milk supply is normal and when to pay closer attention. If you suspect you aren’t producing enough milk for your baby, don’t give up! Keep reading to understand the signs your milk supply is decreasing, and steps you can take to increase it.
The three most common signs your milk supply is decreasing are often signals found in your baby’s overall health. They can be:
It is completely normal for babies, especially newborns, to lose a bit of weight. In fact, babies on average lose up to 7 percent of their body weight after they are born. It’s important to remember that this weight loss only occurs within the first few days after birth, and your baby should slowly gain it back over time.
If your baby does not begin to gain its weight back after birth, this is a sign that your baby is not getting enough milk. Track your baby’s weight and check in with a doctor if the weight gain is slow or negative.
Like we said, no wet diapers means your baby is not getting enough milk. Breast milk is what provides babies with hydration and nutrients to grow for their first stage of life. If you are concerned about the amount of milk your baby is getting, log their poops and pees every 24 hours! Their little bodies can tell us so much.
Lack of poops and pees is not the only sign that your baby is dehydrated. Fatigue, irritability, dry mouth, and dry tears are all signs of dehydration in babies, and are symptoms of not getting enough milk.
There are several factors that can negatively affect breast milk production. Because breast milk production works on a supply and demand system, not pumping or feeding enough can cause milk supply problems. Below are other common problems that can cause a decrease in milk supply:
Breast surgery and previous breast scarring
Latching issues during feeding
PCOS, thyroid, and other hormonal or endocrine conditions
Birth control pills
Milk supplementations (i.e. formula)
Substantial alcohol consumption
Lack of sleep
Having a low milk supply can be stressful, but there are plenty of steps you can take to stimulate milk production. The best news is that all of these methods can be done at home! Methods to try before pumping or breastfeeding include massaging your breasts, taking a warm bath, or simply drinking more water throughout the day. These steps all help to stimulate the let down period, which increases your milk flow.
Changing your pumping and feeding techniques can also help to increase your milk supply. Expressing or feeding more frequently on a strict schedule will “coach” your body to begin supplying more milk. Using a hospital grade pump is another option for stimulating milk production. Hospital grade breast pumps are designed to mimic a baby’s feeding patterns and are highly effective in both pumping and increasing milk supply.
The types of food you eat on a daily basis can also affect your milk supply. In fact, there are certain foods you can implement into your eating that may actually increase your milk supply! There is a lack of scientific evidence on this topic, but anecdotal evidence shows that eating foods like whole grains, oats, lean meat, greens, nuts, and dried fruit can help stimulate milk production. The food you eat won’t affect the quality of your milk, but if you’re trying to increase your milk supply, why not give (these delicious) foods a shot?
It’s completely normal, albeit stressful, to have worries about low milk supply, but we know that it can be stressful! The bottom line is to not give up on breastfeeding and pumping. Find some answers, possible solutions and then reassess. Allow yourself some time to determine whether or not your milk supply is decreasing by monitoring your baby’s health. Know that you are not alone in the breastfeeding process, and that you have access to support systems whether it be a lactation consultant, doctor, friend, or the Willow community! At Willow, we want every woman to have a positive experience when it comes to feeding their baby. Visit us online to find answers to all of your questions surrounding lactation, and being a new mama!
This article was written in partnership with our International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Wendy Wright, who loves working side by side with moms and babies to find that secret sauce! She’s also a mother of two and the Mom Experience Lead at Willow Pump.
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