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Hey Mamas! Are you having trouble with a low milk supply? If so, you’re not alone. It is one of the most common concerns breastfeeding mothers have. Not making enough milk for your baby can give you nightmares. There could be a reason or two for why you are not producing enough. Sometimes you actually may be the one causing your supply decrease and may not even know it. Small lifestyle changes can get you right back to where you want to be! Let’s see if we can figure out what is causing your issues!
1. EMPTYING YOUR BREASTS
This is one of the top reasons for a low supply. Producing breast milk is all about supply and demand. You must remove milk to make more milk. If you are with your baby, try to nurse on demand. It is better for the production of milk to nurse often instead of having a set schedule. Offer each breast to your baby at each feeding. It is okay if your baby only wants to feed off of one side. Try to offer the other breast a little while later. You may also try pumping the side your baby does not nurse on and/or after your baby nurses on both sides. This will ensure complete removal of breast milk. If you are away from your baby or exclusively pumping, pump at least every 3 hours.
2. PUMP MALFUNCTION
A pump malfunction can leave you in a tizzy if you are exclusively pumping or pumping while away from baby. If your pump is not working correctly, then your breasts are not being emptied completely. Which in turn, will lower your supply because of your demand not being high. A good pump has a cycle (one full suction and release) of 60 per minute. A great pump that has never let me down is the Medela Pump in Style. I’ve also heard amazing things about the Spectra! Check to make sure your pump is working correctly if you are noticing a dip in your supply.
There are many reasons a woman may contemplate supplementing breast milk with formula. Some doctors may even suggest doing so if they feel your baby is not gaining enough weight from your milk alone. Although, they may actually be causing an even more decrease in your supply. Like I have stated in previous reasons, breast milk is all about supply and demand. Your body will naturally adapt to making only enough milk for what is removed. So you must supply more milk, to demand more.
4. SLEEP DEPRIVATION
“Sleep? What IS that?” said the mother of a newborn baby. Getting enough sleep with a newborn may seem impossible. They are up all hours of the night with no routine or schedule. I remember the entire first night home from the hospital. Why you might ask…because I was awake the entire night. The last time I remember looking at the clock was 4am. I know, right! It did take a few nights, but eventually we were able to have our little routine down (there is light at the end of the tunnel!) In the meantime, sleep while your baby sleeps. This was hard for me to do myself because I would look around the house and felt like I needed to be doing something. But guess what, there will always be something you need to do. So take the time for yourself and do what is good for you. Sleep. Your breast milk will thank you too! Your body does not have enough energy to make more if you are exhausted.
I personally did not have this problem. I have always been a big water drinker, and once I started nursing I would down water. I became extremely thirsty all the time. I would drink a 20oz water sometimes in one sitting. But if you are not a big water drinker, this could be why you are having a low supply. Breast milk is made of 90% water. If you don’t like water, or just wanting a different flavor, try BodyArmor drinks! They are made with coconut water and taste amazing! Pure coconut water is also great for hydration. Some studies show that it restores electrolytes better than water or other hydrating drinks. Bottom line, hydration is a must while breastfeeding so you can make more milk.
6. BIRTH CONTROL
Hormonal birth control has been linked to a decrease in mother’s supply, even if started after milk is established. Estrogen-containing birth control should be avoided. Some women have reported to no supply drop while taking this type of contraceptive, but it is far and few. Many doctors recommend progesterone only methods, although there are a few women that have reported to have a supply drop with this as well. I was one of them. I was prescribed the POP pill, and within 2 days my supply dropped. I stopped the pill immediately and eventually my supply was back to normal. Bottom line, use birth control with caution if you are afraid of a supply going down.
Having the occasional glass of wine or beer while breastfeeding is said to be okay by many experts. But be cautious because it could affect your supply. Alcohol will not increase your supply but actually, decrease it. Some women report an increase after they drink a beer, but it is not due to the alcohol. It is likely because of the barley which is a known lactogenic (milk producer). Your supply will rise back up after a few hours of drinking.
Do you have allergies or a cold? Are you taking any medication for it? If so, double check the ingredients for pseudoephedrine. This ingredient not only drys your nose, but it also drys your milk! Some popular medications include Sudafed, Advil Cold & Sinus, Claritin-D, and Mucinex-D. While looking for medications to watch out for think “D” stands for DRY. Inform your physician that you are breastfeeding so they can avoid prescribing any medications with pseudoephedrine.
Do you like using herbs? If so, there are several that you need to pay close attention to. Some herbs will actually decrease your milk supply. I found this list from kellymom.com. They include:
- Black Walnut
- Herb Robert
- Lemon Balm
A small amount of these herbs is considered okay to use, just avoid using large quantities. Some examples to avoid are menthol cough drops, peppermint candies, and teas. I know winter will be tough for me while breastfeeding because I LOVE peppermint coffee!
Oh no! Not caffeine! Yes, it’s true, caffeine can affect your breast milk supply. Fortunately, we can have small amounts of it. One cup of coffee in the morning, as well as a glass of tea or coke in the afternoon, is said to be okay. Try to avoid Death Wish Coffee though! It is the worlds strongest coffee! Too much caffeine will actually dehydrate our bodies. I know many of us like to consume caffeine throughout the day to help us get through, but for now, we just need to limit ourselves.
I hope this list helped you solve your problem with low supply! I know it seems like a lot to avoid, but it is totally worth it to be able to provide your baby with breast milk! Please feel free to comment below with additional tips or question. As always, YOU’VE GOT THIS MAMA!