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First of all, we’re so glad you asked. If you’ve arrived at this article (through search or other way!) just first know that this is completely normal. Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s dig a little bit deeper.
If you’ve ever experienced a sudden drop in milk supply, we know it can be so frustrating and confusing! One day your body is supplying more than enough for your baby, and the next day supply drops. The good news is that there are several possible causes for a sudden drop in milk supply, and once you’ve determined the problem, it is fixable!
Experiencing drops in milk supply is normal, and you are not alone. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about low milk supply, and how you can help your body get back on track.
A decrease in milk supply is completely normal! In fact, milk supply can vary from day-to-day, or week-to-week. As long as your baby is continuously asking to feed and is getting milk at each session, dips in milk supply are not a reason to worry.
A drop in milk supply becomes a concern when your baby is not getting enough nourishment during each feeding. Because of this, it’s important to watch and measure your baby’s health and growth to ensure that they are eating the right amount.
Remember that it’s normal for babies to experience drops in weight! Each infant has unique growth patterns and should gain weight on her growth curve over time. If your baby slows or changes growth patterns this could be a sign that she is not getting enough milk.
If your baby is not pooping and peeing regularly, this could mean that they are dehydrated and not getting enough milk. Pay attention to how often they wet their diapers throughout the day, and don’t be afraid to create a “poop log” if you’re concerned!
Baby dehydration doesn’t solely appear in the form of dry diapers. Keep an eye on their mouth, skin, and general behavior. If they cry without making tears, have dry mouths, and are more irritable, these are all signs of baby dehydration.
A decrease in milk supply can be caused by a variety of different factors. The most common problem is not pumping or feeding enough. Because milk production works on a supply and demand basis, not pumping on a frequent schedule will signal to your body that it does not need to produce milk. Below are other common causes for a decrease in milk supply:
When you experience a drop in your milk supply, it’s important to evaluate any changes in your body, life, and baby leading up to that point. Below are common causes for a sudden drop in milk supply:
Hormonal Changes: Starting a new birth control medication or
Baby Eating Habits: When you start incorporating solids into your baby’s diet, your baby may take-in less milk which will cause your milk supply to decrease. Babies typically begin
Drinking too much water: It may sound counterintuitive, but
Not enough calories: Because you’re feeding for two, you’ll need extra calories to provide nutrition for your baby. When you don’t eat enough calories, your milk supply can drop.
Stress and sleep: Thinking about how to combat stress can be stressful itself, especially when your milk supply suddenly drops! Learning how to balance your sleep schedule with your baby’s sleep and nursing schedule takes time.
Not nursing on demand: While pumping schedules are important, it’s crucial to feed when your baby shows signs of hunger (lip smacking, bringing hands to mouth, rooting for the breast). Not nursing on demand and supplementing with excessive formula may send mixed signals to your body that it doesn’t need to produce milk at certain times.
Developmental changes in your baby: As your baby matures, distraction, teeth, and new latching issues can all cause a temporary dip in supply.
The key to getting your milk supply back on track is to pump or breastfeed more frequently and remove more milk while doing so. Find times during your day where you can add in an extra pumping session. If you are not exclusively pumping, try to nurse more frequently when you’re with your baby during the day.
Another way to boost your milk supply is to take a “nursing vacation.” Schedule up to 3 days where you simply nurse as much as possible with your baby. During that time be sure to rest, eat a well-balanced diet, and stay hydrated.
To ensure you’re removing enough milk from your breasts during each feeding or pumping session, express milk for up to 15-20 minutes. Make sure that your pump flange size is correct, and that you have an efficient breast pump. If you are nursing, pay attention to any nursing problems your baby might have with latching or feeding.
Oat Mama's proprietary blend of galactagogues (milk-boosting herbs) includes alfalfa, goat's rue, milk thistle, moringa, shatavari, and spirulina. Plus it's gentle on the tummy.
There are several ways to increase your milk supply if you have reason to believe it’s lower than normal. While increasing feeding time and amount of milk you express are the baseline recommendations, there are plenty of other at home methods available that have also proven to do the job. For example, the kinds of foods you eat on a daily basis can affect your milk supply! Fenugreek, oatmeal, lean meat, leafy greens, and much more all contain various chemical properties that can potentially help increase your milk supply.
Working to improve your milk flow through at-home techniques is another great way to increase milk supply. Massaging your breasts, adding breast compression while pumping or nursing, taking warm baths, and implementing self-care into your daily routines are perfect steps you can take to increase your milk supply while simultaneously taking care of yourself!
Want to ask our IBCLC more questions? Follow Willow on Instagram for more conversations like this every week.
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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