Low milk supply is a common concern of breastfeeding moms. If you’re worried whether baby is getting enough milk, ask yourself this question: Is baby gaining and growing on only breast milk? Then you have plenty of milk. If your baby is gaining, growing, and having plenty of wet and dirty diapers, then your supply isn’t a problem. Then why all the worry? ‘Cause worry is what moms do!
There are some common things that make moms think they have a low breastmilk supply, but many aren’t accurate indicators of supply problems. The way your breasts feel, the way your baby behaves, and the amount you pump isn’t a reliable indicator of how much breast milk you’re producing.
Commonly Misinterpreted as Low-supply Indicators
◘ Baby frequently feeds: Babies digest breast milk faster than formula, so feeding every 1.5 to 3 hours is normal.
◘ Baby is fussy at the breast, fussy in the evening, or just fussy: All babies get fussy. Only babies in TV commercials are always smiling.
◘ Baby is cluster feeding: This is the demand part of supply and demand. It usually correlates to a growth spurt or is baby’s way of getting more mama time.
◘ Baby takes a bottle after feeding: Gulping down a bottle doesn’t mean baby wasn’t satisfied at the breast. This is a normal survival tactic when your mouth is filled with liquid, you have to swallow, which creates a suck and fills the mouth again. It appears baby is gulping hungrily, but he’s actually over feeding.
◘ Mom’s breasts stop leaking or suddenly feel soft: This is normal once your supply has adjusted to your baby’s needs.
◘ Mom get only small amounts of milk when pumping: The amount you pump isn’t equal to the amount of milk in your breasts. Pumping is a skill, and even a hospital-grade pump can’t express as much as a healthy baby can. It is also normal for the amount you pump to decrease over time.
If you are still concerned about your milk supply, contact a board-certified lactation consultant, a certified breastfeeding counselor or your pediatrician. If your baby is not gaining or is losing weight, it might be necessary to supplement until your supply increases. If it is medically necessary to supplement, then the best option is to supplement baby with your own expressed breast milk.
Low Breast Milk Supply Contributors
◘ Supplementing: Breastfeeding is supply and demand. Your body is making milk as baby nurses. How much he/she nurses is how much your body makes. Every bottle your baby takes is a signal to your body to make less. If you have to supplement, pump for that missed feeding to stimulate the breasts to make more milk.
◘ Pacifiers: Pacifiers can affect baby’s latch and can significantly decrease the time baby is spending at the breast, which as also decreases your supply.
◘ Bottle preference: Sucking from a bottle is different, and the faster flow is easier than breastfeeding.
◘ Nipple shields: While a very useful tool in some situations, a nipple shield can cause a decrease in stimulation, and therefore, a decrease in supply.
◘ Sleepy babies: During the first few weeks, baby can be very sleepy. Wake him/her up every two hours during the day and four hours during the night to feed, until your supply is established.