Low milk supply is one of the most common concerns for many mothers. Many moms fear that they aren’t producing enough milk for their babies and end up supplementing with formula or donor milk. However, this is often done prematurely without any guidance from a Certified Lactation Consultant and any actual knowledge of if they actually have a true low milk supply.
In most cases supply issues are related to causes that can be corrected fairly easily. Most milk supply issues can be resolved and you and your baby can go on to enjoy a wonderful breastfeeding journey!
In this post we’ll dig into some of the signs of a low milk supply and that various ways you can boost your breastmilk production.
Signs of a Low Milk Supply
Poor Weight Gain
Weight gain is one of the most significant indicators of a newborn’s overall health. A healthy breastfed newborn can lose up to 10% of their birth weight and progressively gain it back—in 5oz. to 7oz. increments within a period of 2 weeks after the birth. Around a week after birth, your baby will have their first well-visit. If they have not gained back their birth weight, it's important to seek help from a certified lactation specialist.
Inadequate Wet & Soiled Diapers
In the early days, a newborn’s pee and poop diapers will typically be equivalent to their age. So a 3 day old baby would have 3 wet and 3 soiled diapers (sometimes more). If your baby is not producing as many wet and soiled diapers as they should be, or if the baby's wet diapers aren’t increasing in weight, it could be a sign that you have a low milk supply.
Signs of dehydration in newborns include: dark urine, reddish colored dust in diaper after day 5 of life, sunken fontanel, lethargy and being disinterested at the breast, as well as dry mouth and lips. If your newborn is showing any of these signs, it’s important that you seek medical help immediately.
Too Long or Too Short Feeding Sessions
If you find that your baby spends very little time at the breast and dozes off, or if you find that your baby is consistently at the breast for long periods of time, you may have a low milk supply.
Note: The amount of time your baby spends at the breast should not be the only factor you consider when your milk supply is in question.
Crankiness After Feeds
A baby who is well-fed should be content and relaxed after each feed. If your baby appears to be agitated after being at the breast and if his or her fists are tight, this could be an indicator that your baby is not getting enough milk.
What To Do If You Think You Have a Low Milk Supply
As tempting as it may be, don’t be eager to supplement with formula or donor milk without the guidance of a lactation specialist.
Supplementing prematurely can worsen your supply issue. Breast milk production largely relies on supply and demand— the more milk your baby gets, the more your body produces. If you decide to give your baby milk supplements, your body’s breastmilk production will drastically reduce.
The first thing you should do if you suspect that you have a low milk supply, is to seek help from a Lactation Specialist.
A Lactation Consultant can help assess your baby's latch and positioning during a Better Breastfeeding Journey Virtual Consultation. If you are an exclusive pumper, a Better Pumping Journey Virtual Consultation can help you establish a pumping routine, ensure you have a proper flange fit, and ensure you are effectively emptying your breasts.
How to Increase Your Milk Supply
Take Care of Yourself
This is going up first on the list because... happy mom, happy baby! If you’re running on no sleep, are fatigued, stressed out, and malnourished, your milk supply will suffer. It’s important that you rest as much as you can and that you stay hydrated and nourished. If you don’t have any help whatsoever, consider hiring a postpartum doula who will be able to provide you with the support you need.
Fix Baby's Latch and Positioning
If your baby has a poor latch, he or she will not be able to empty your breast efficiently. It’s crucial that you get your latch right. Make sure you seek help from a lactation specialist. You can DIY by watching this video on how to master the deep latch technique. It’s also important that both you and your baby are comfortable during each feeding session. Invest in a comfortable nursing pillow that will allow you to experiment with various breastfeeding positions.
Nurse On Demand
Mama, we know that breastfeeding can be quite challenging and exhausting especially when you’re still going through postpartum and adjusting to life with a newborn, but in order to increase your milk supply, it’s important that you breastfeed as often as baby wants until baby is clearly satisfied.
Empty Breasts Effectively
If your baby is going to be at the breast every couple of hours every.single.day, you want to make sure that you are making the most of your feeding sessions by ensuring that your breasts are being emptied efficiently. Our Warming Lactation Massage Pads have been designed to improve your breast milk flow and empty your breasts more effectively. By doing so, you’re helping your body regulate its breastmilk production to match your baby’s needs. Remember, supply and demand!
Helpful tip: If you find that your baby is falling asleep while nursing at the breast and that your attempts at gently waking him or her up to finish are going unanswered, get a little creative! Undress your baby, do a quick diaper change, and tickle those little feet! It’s not uncommon for babies to fall asleep at the breast without actually getting much milk.
Enjoy as much skin-to-skin time as possible. By doing this, you’re encouraging your body to produce oxytocin, which is also known as the love hormone, which promotes milk production!
Tongue twister? Perhaps. Necessary to combat low milk supply? Absolutely. Galactagogues come in the form of medication, herbal remedies such as tea, and whole foods such as oatmeal and dark leafy greens, and are supposed to encourage an increase in breast milk supply.
Lose the Pacifier
If you want to increase your milk supply, it’s important that all sucking takes place at the breast. Your baby’s sucking triggers your brain (hello oxytocin!) to release more milk. The more sucking your baby does at the breast, the better.
Pump After Feeds
If your baby is not nursing efficiently, you may want to consider pumping after each feeding session. A hospital-grade breast pump is the best option if your goal is to increase your milk supply. Try not to pay too much attention to your milk pumping output. Any amount you get whether big or small is beneficial and will help your body regulate its milk production. Be sure to pump at least once very late at night (after midnight) and in the wee hours of the morning because this is when your prolactin (milk making hormone) levels are highest, and don’t forget to use your lactation massager while you pump to ensure that your breasts are fully emptied!
We hope that you found this post to be helpful mama!