Most women who breastfeed do not need to generally worry about low milk supply, however there can be moments when they notice a dip in their supply. This is usually ok and normal, but supply should still be monitored to make sure that baby is getting enough breastmilk to sustain ideal growth. There are signs to look for that indicate low supply and things to do to help increase the supply.
You may think you have low milk supply if your baby seems hungry or unsettled after feeding, or if he wants to feed often with short pauses between feedings, but this is often times not the case.
Signs You May Have Low Milk Supply
There are however, actual signs that let you know your baby isn’t getting enough milk:
- Baby has poor or really slow weight gain
- Baby is not producing wet/dirty diapers, meaning they are passing small amounts of concentrated urine
- Baby is showing signs of dehydration such as a sunken soft spot or low energy levels
If you notice any of these signs then it’s more likely that your baby isn’t getting enough milk to maintain optimal health and you should contact your doctor right away.
All babies will lose some weight within the first few days after birth. Babies are born with supplies of fat and fluids, which will help them keep going for the first several days. A healthy newborn is expected to lose 7% to 10% of their birth weight, but should regain that weight within the first 2 weeks or so after birth. During their first month, most newborns should gain weight at a rate of about 1 ounce (30 grams) per day. You can read about other reasons for weight-loss in breastfed babies here.
How To Boost Milk Supply
To help you with your breastfeeding, here are some ways that you can increase your supply of milk:
- Be sure that your baby is positioned correctly and attached to your breast.
- Let your baby feed for as long and often as he wants.
- If you feel that your baby isn’t breast feeding enough, offer him more breast feeds.
- During each breast feed, make sure you feed from both breasts.
- If your baby has been using a dummy, try to stop him.
- Some babies may be sleepy and reluctant to feed, which may be the cause of problems with milk supply.
- If baby is sleeping more and not feeding as much you can pump and freeze the milk. This will stimulate the breast to keep it on its natural rhythm of milk production and you will have extra milk on hand for future use.
By following the above tips, you’ll do your part in making sure you have enough milk when it comes time to breast feed. If you are uncertain or have other questions, be sure to ask your doctor, as he can answer any type of question you may have.
Other Tips to Increase Milk Supply
Stay hydrated! The number one ingredient in breastmilk is water so make sure you give your body enough water each day.
Talking to a lactation consultant can help with getting baby to latch properly, positioning yourself and baby correctly for optimal feeding, they may also suggest a schedule for feeding/pumping to increase supply.
Maintain a healthy diet. There are certain foods that can help promote milk production. Try these next time you think you may have a dip in your milk supply:
- Fenugreek – you can take supplements or herbal tea containing fenugreek
- Oats – grab a bowl of oatmeal
- Brewers yeast – put some on your oatmeal 😉 or I like to sprinkle it on my popcorn – or treat yourself to a beer
- Nuts – I have definitely used peanuts to help elevate my supply from time to time
- You can also try my No Bake Lactation Energy Bites – awesome for a quick grab and go option
- I also created the Best Lactation Cookie Recipe Ever – who needs an excuse to eat cookies?!
Essential Oils for Milk Production
- Clary Sage
- Slave for increasing milk supply – contains Geranium, Clary Sage, and Basil
It is natural for your breastmilk to ebb and flow and a lot of it is determined by baby. They go through growth spurts, illnesses, days of sleeping a ton, and just plain fussiness. These things are all normal and the best thing you can do is adapt, take baby’s lead and most importantly, don’t panic or stress about it because that can only add to the issue. Baby and your breasts have a relationship and they get each other, just make sure you are a loving, caring, attentive facilitator of that beautiful relationship and don’t give up, you can do it!