The concern for your milk supply dropping is something all nursing mothers experience. When our babies can’t articulate what they want –and their fussiness won’t subside after ticking off the checklist of standard discomforts– it’s only natural to wonder if they’re just plain hungry. How do you know if you’re producing enough milk? And can you increase milk production fast? In order to understand that we need to take a closer look at the causes and solutions for decreased milk supply.
How Do I Know If My Milk Supply Is Low
Babies have a fairly standard set of hunger cues that range in severity as hunger persists. The earlier signs of hunger are less obvious, such as, licking or smacking lips, and opening and closing the mouth. Active signs of hunger include; rooting around or positioning to nurse, sucking on their hands, and fidgeting or squirming. It’s not until the late stages of hunger occur that we see the more obvious signs like crying and moving their head side to side. It’s important to learn these cues and nurse on demand to encourage breast milk production. If your baby continues to display these hunger cues after nursing, you may be experiencing a breast milk supply drop.
If your baby isn’t gaining weight, or gaining it more slowly than projected by their pediatrician, it’s a good sign you’re not producing enough milk. Pumping is a great way to determine your output because you can physically see how much milk you’re producing and track those amounts over time. Keeping track of wet diapers is helpful, as the amount of wet diapers is another indicator of your milk supply. Well-fed babies should have six or more wet diapers in 24 hours by the time they’re a week old.
Why Is My Milk Supply Dropping
There are numerous low milk supply causes ranging anywhere from medications, to diet, to lifestyle choices.
Stress is the number one killer of your milk supply. When you experience stress your body releases cortisol and other hormones that can drastically reduce milk production. Taking mood supplements like our nursing-friendly Postpartum Mood Support with ashwagandha can help reduce feelings of stress and boost your mood and energy levels.
Not drinking enough water is another main cause of low milk supply. You need fluids to produce breast milk –nursing moms should be drinking about 16 cups (128 oz) of water each day. Drinking a large glass of water each time you sit down to nurse is a great way to get the fluids you need.
Supplementing with formula in place of breastfeeding will reduce your milk supply. You have to empty your breasts to trigger your body to produce and release more milk. The less you allow your baby to feed at your breast, the less milk you’ll produce.
Consuming alcohol, smoking, and even wearing tightly-fitted clothing or bras can inhibit your ability to produce milk. Certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs are known to negatively impact your milk supply as well. Make sure you inform your doctor that you’re breastfeeding prior to beginning any new medications.
How To Boost Milk Supply Fast
Your breast milk production relies on supply and demand –the more often you breastfeed or empty your breasts (demand) the more breast milk you’ll produce (supply). How to increase milk supply:
- Power pumping: This is intended to recreate the sensation of cluster feeding with your breast pump. While there’s no set schedule for power pumping, a sample schedule might look like this; 20 minutes of pumping, followed by a 10-minute break, 10 minutes of pumping, then a 10-minute break, and finally 10 minutes of pumping done 2 or 3 times throughout the day.
- Skin-to-skin: Holding your baby close to your bare skin stimulates oxytocin and releases prolactin, two hormones necessary in milk production.
- Take your vitamins: Taking supplements that contain herbal galactagogues is a great way to boost your milk supply fast. Our Total Lactation Support capsules contain Milk Thistle, Fennel, Fenugreek, and Alfalfa to increase milk supply and promote milk flow.
- Nurse on demand: Allowing and encouraging your baby to nurse frequently, or whenever they show interest, will help increase your milk supply.
- Pump after nursing: Adding in a pumping session after nursing will tell your body that the baby requires more milk than is provided in a single feed, thus, increasing your milk supply.
- Change positions: Switch up breastfeeding holds and positions to encourage your breasts to empty completely, when they’re empty it signals that you need to produce more milk.
- Breast massage: Massaging your breasts while feeding, pumping, or in between sessions can benefit milk production. Not only does this encourage milk flow, but it also helps reduce the risk of mastitis and clogged ducts.
The Best Way To Maintain Milk Supply
If you’re wondering how to maintain your milk supply, consistently breastfeeding your baby is the best way. Supplementing with galactagogue (milk-producing) herbs and teas, reducing your stress levels, and adopting a balanced diet that’s high in calorie-dense foods, are all helpful in maintaining your breast milk supply over time. Some foods that are believed to support milk production are:
- Yams, beets, and carrots
- Leafy greens
- Fennel and fennel seed
- Brewer’s yeast
- Sesame seeds
- Lentils and chickpeas
- Green papaya
Noticing a drop in your milk supply isn’t always a cause for concern. As your baby grows and you begin to introduce solid foods, your body will naturally adjust to the needs of your baby. It’s important to note that the overproduction of milk can be just as frustrating as the worry you’re not producing enough. To learn more we encourage you to read: