Skip to main content
What do I do if I have a sudden drop in breast milk supply? | Willow | Hands-Free, App-Compatible & Wearable Breast Pumps

What do I do if I have a sudden drop in breast milk supply?

We asked an expert for her insights.

First of all, we’re so glad you asked. There are many reasons why moms experience a sudden decrease in milk supply, and we want you to know that even though it can be scary, it is also completely normal.

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. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about low milk supply, and how you can help your body get back on track.

Is It Normal For My Breast Milk Supply to Decrease?

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.

There are also ways to make sure your baby is getting enough milk, such as tracking your baby's diaper changes and the contents of their diapers. Many parents choose to use a notebook or their phone to easily track their baby's diaper routine and use that information to keep an eye out for any changes.

What Are Signs of Low or Decreasing Milk Supply?

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.

Monitoring their diaper contents and diaper changes can be super important here, especially if you want to share that information with your doctor if you suspect your baby is not being nourished enough. You know your baby best, so if you have concerns about your baby's nourishment, reach out to your pediatrician.

Baby Not Gaining or Slowly Gaining Weight

Remember that it’s normal for babies to experience drops in weight! Each infant has unique growth patterns and should gain weight on their growth curve over time. Keep track of your baby's weight, but also remember that fluctuations are often completely normal. If your baby slows or changes growth patterns this could be a sign that they are not getting enough milk. Like with other concerns, reach out to your doctor if you notice dramatic changes in your baby's weight.

Changes in Baby's Pooping or Peeing Frequency

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!

For newborns, expect about as many diapers as your baby is days old. As your baby gets older and is sleeping longer, you'll notice they go through fewer diapers (another good reason to keep track!). If you notice any significant changes in your baby's diaper contents or frequency of diaper changes, that's a good time to contact your pediatrician for help.

You Notice Signs That Your Baby is Dehydrated

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, or are more irritable, these may be signs that your baby is experiencing dehydration. If you're concerned your baby is dehydrated, be sure to contact your pediatrician for additional guidance.

Why Did My Milk Supply Drop?

A decrease in milk supply can be caused by a variety of different factors. A very common (and solvable) 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. Let's talk about some other common causes for a decrease in milk supply.

Common Causes Of Decreased 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: Changes in hormones, including starting a new birth control medication (especially one with estrogen) can lead to low milk production. It's important to talk to your doctor if you're concerned any medications may be impacting your milk supply.
  • Baby Eating Habits: When you start incorporating solids into your baby’s diet, your baby may begin to drink less milk, which will cause your milk supply to decrease. This transition is often gradual and you can talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about your baby's changing diet.
  • Drinking too much water: It may sound counterintuitive, but overhydration can actually cause your milk supply to drop! Too much water can disrupt your hormones and how your body regulates electrolytes. Monitoring your hydration is just as important as monitoring your baby's.
  • Not enough calories: Because you’re feeding for two, you’ll need extra calories to provide nutrition for your baby. Remember how much you were told to eat during pregnancy? Follow that guideline and add about 200 calories per day from nutritious food options.
  • 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, but working to reduce your stress levels can help with your milk supply. Being a new mom can be stressful, but you've got this, mama!
  • Not nursing on demand: While breastfeeding and 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. Be patient and remember to listen to your (and your baby's) bodies for clues.
  • Developmental changes in your baby: As your baby matures, distraction, teeth, and new latching issues can all cause a temporary dip in supply. If you're noticing significant or chronic latching problems, contact a lactation consultant or your doctor for guidance on the next steps for you and your baby.

What Can I Do To Help My Milk Supply?

The key to getting your milk supply back on track is to pump or breastfeed more frequently, removing more milk while doing so. The first step is to find times during your day when you can add in an extra pumping session. If you are not exclusively pumping, you can also 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, and notice any changes in how your milk is flowing as a sign that it is time to stop for the session.

Don't forget to make sure that your pump flange size is correct, and that you have an efficient breast pump (like Willow Go or Willow 3.0 pumps!). If you are nursing, pay attention to any nursing problems your baby might have with latching or feeding.

Oat Mama Lactation Supplement

Oat Mama Lactation Supplement

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.

How Do I Increase My Milk Supply?

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 the 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 foods you eat daily 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 your milk supply. Using a warming breast massager or a warm breast therapy pad during your pumping routines are great steps you can take to increase your milk supply while simultaneously taking care of yourself!

And don't forget to find other ways to treat yourself to small moments of self-care – you deserve it, mom.

Want to ask our IBCLC more questions? Follow Willow on Instagram for more conversations with experts from the Willow community.

This article was written in partnership with International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Wendy Wright, who loves working side by side with moms and babies to find that secret sauce!

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of medical professionals. It should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions or problems. Please contact your healthcare provider with questions or concerns.
Which pump is right for you?
Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?