Breastfeeding can be a challenging sport with any pregnancy.
Now the thought of keeping up with breastfeeding when you are not producing enough milk? That can be stressful.
If you think about it, we just delivered a baby so our bodies are in a frenzy with hormones, at home with a brand new baby trying to adjust to the new schedule and now trying to get the baby to latch correctly, eat enough and let’s not forget to mention to pump enough!
All while staying sane! Yeah, okay!
I remember talking to my other Mama friends and they had 60, 70, and even 130 ounces of breast milk stored in the freezer by 3 months post baby.
I started PANICKING because I only had TWO bottles of breast milk in the fridge and NONE frozen!
“Oh my gosh, what if my little girl isn’t getting enough?!”
“I should have that much in my freezer, right?!”
“Why am I not producing enough milk?!”
And of course, the worst thought that a Mama can think, “What am I doing WRONG?!”
First, don’t ever think that Mama!!
Second, if you’re experiencing a low milk supply, don’t panic just yet!
There are MANY possible reasons for low milk supply and there are multiple ways to help with the whole lactation process.
(This post probably containers affiliate links, so if you want to read our boring full disclaimer policy, you can read all of it HERE.)
So, let’s start with figuring out if YOUR BREASTS ARE PROVIDING ENOUGH MILK FOR BREASTFEEDING?
There are many different ways to figure out if your body is producing enough milk for your baby.
One of the simplest ways start with examining your little one.
One big indication is the look of satisfaction on your babies face when he or she is done breastfeeding, also known as “milk drunk”! You’re baby should become relaxed, opening up their hands and their body almost going limp becoming at ease.
Next on the list, is that your little one should be gaining weight.
Babies normally lose a few ounces right after birth, although they should regain the weight plus a little more within a week or two down the line.
Keep tabs on how often your baby is urinating.
Make sure your babies urine is light yellow or clear. If your babies urine is a dark yellow then that is a major indication that he or she is not getting enough breast milk or hydration of any sort. Newborns should be peeing 8 to 10 times a day!
We kept a journal for 3 months post birth. This is to help make sure the baby is urinating enough throughout the first growing stages.
Now, for you Mama, your breasts.
They should FEEL full. They should feel heavy. Mainly for the first month or two post birth.
Although there are many women that have noticed their breasts do not feel heavy nor full and still produce enough milk! So, don’t worry if this is you too, there is nothing wrong!
The feeling of my breasts being full only happened for the first few months after having my first child. After about 3 or 4 months, the size of my breasts nearly went back to normal.
And I basically look like a 14 year old boy if that gives you ANY indication how little my chest is…
Nonetheless, my little girl STILL nursed until almost 18 months.
You’re breasts don’t need to be large to produce enough milk hunny!
REASONS FOR LOW MILK SUPPLY
Lack of Nutrition
As a Mama, we tend to put ourselves after others, especially our children.
Although we need to make sure we are eating enough ourselves when working to produce milk. You should look toward taking in an EXTRA 200-300 calories per day.
And, yes, that is on top of your normal diet! This extra caloric intake is to suffice for the extra that you are giving out.
Oh yeah, enjoy that PB & J Mama!
Newborns can have a difficult time latching at the beginning. Hey, they never had to do this before!
After I gave birth to my first child, the nurses were no kidding, MAN-HANDLING my breasts to help my newborn to latch! Which, honestly, after the whole “my privates are open to the entire staff while giving birth” scene, the nurse helping me first breastfeed my child was so minimal. AND helped tremendously!
Now, a good latch while breastfeeding comes with practice. I do highly recommend to hire a lactation/breastfeeding consultant if you still think you may be having a struggling time trying to breastfeed after two weeks.
Even though successful breastfeeding comes with practice and learning your babies signals on how they like to feed, there are also many reasons why your baby is still having a hard time latching correctly. And many reasons are not even your fault Mama!
Reasons your baby may not have a sufficient suckle:
- Baby just not used to the act yet
- Poor tongue function
- Baby is small or small jaw
- Unusual Nipples
- Nipple Piercings
Going back to the main point of this here, is that if your baby is having a hard time latching on for any given reason, your body may not be getting the signals needed to produce milk. So a correct latch can help greatly with a sufficient flow of breast milk.
This one can be hard if you are a working Mama, because newborns normally need to feed between 8 and 12 times a day. That’s basically every 2 hours! We don’t always get that during work, depending on your job of course.
Basically, the more frequent the feedings, the more your body is then stimulated to produce milk.
Also, try your best to feed baby off of both breasts during every feeding to keep stimulated. That way both breasts will keep producing. (and you won’t have only one crazy huge boob!)
This being very similar to the point above, the more stimulated your breasts are, the more signals that are sent to your body to produce milk.
Have a pumping schedule set up to pump every couple of hours. Be sure to pump frequently if you work long hours, if your baby sleeps for long hours (good for you Mama!), or if you are away from your baby for an extended amount of time.
And when I say frequently, it is recommended to pump every 2 to 3 hours.
I never woke my baby if she slept hours at a time, I fed her when she woke. Although, I did try to stay diligent as much as possible to pump while she was sleeping.
Another tip I learned from another Mama, is to try to pump after every feeding. This helps signal your body to produce for a longer amount of time. Even if it is for only 10 minutes! If you can pump for 20 minutes after feeding your little one, that is awesome and should help greatly!
Now, if you are not able to reach a pump either after a feeding or throughout the day, hand expressing your milk may be what is needed to keep your body stimulated to produce.
One main thing to remember is, if breast milk is not expressed, milk production will shut down.
Stress plays such a role on our bodies, many of times being more than we even realize.
It can be stressful as a new Mama! Adjusting to the new schedule, limited sleep, thinking we have to do it all!
Also, Mama’s that have breastfed multiple children! Add on taking care of all the other children to that list!
Take a moment to yourself and relax, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. Those 10 minutes could be sitting back in the chair and closing your eyes, saying a prayer before bed, or jamming out to a favorite song before picking up the kids from school.
There are so many different ways Mama’s deal with emotional stress. If you need some ideas, head on over and read 15 Things Every Stressed Mama Should Do For Herself!
Whatever your 10 minutes or 45 minutes looks like, enjoy it and really focus on making it about you.
Medications & Birth Control
If you are on an estrogen-based medicine or birth control, ask your doctor if this could be one of the possible reasons for low milk supply.
Some medications and birth controls can have been linked to direct affect on milk supply. To mention a few, estrogen-based contraceptives including the pill, implants and intrauterine devices may limit milk supply.
Make sure to always consult your physician before starting or ending a medication or birth control/contraceptive.
There may be more than I list here and I am not a doctor, so please make sure to consult your physician on any illnesses you may have before you go further with self-diagnosing!
Some health conditions such as thyroid problems, anemia, diabetes, or problems with a prior breast augmentation have been linked to limiting milk supply.
If you know for sure that you have one of the health conditions that I have listed above and still want to proceed with breastfeeding, it is possible! Health conditions do not mean that you won’t be able to breastfeed. Sometimes the health condition can play a part in successful lactation.
Again, please still talk with your physician before proceeding in any direction.
Also known as Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT). IGT or hypoplastic breasts is basically a lack of glandular tissue which the breasts will only produce a small amount of milk or unfortunately, no milk at all.
Hypoplastic breasts do not grow or change normally through a pregnancy preparing for the baby, nor do they change when the milk supply is suppose to come in after the birth of the baby.
Normal milk supply comes in within 3 days of the babies birth, although if your breasts show no fullness and are still soft, contact a lactation consultant as soon as you are able to.
The lactation consultant can assess your condition, the latching of the baby and help you with tips to increasing milk production.
The Take Away
There are many different reasons for low milk supply. Although, that does not mean you won’t produce milk at all nor will have to give up.
You can you can take action right away by changing a few routines, incorporating healthy diets, talking to consultants, and relieving stress.
Remember Mama, whether you breastfeed for 2 months, 12 months or decide to go with formula, as long as your baby is happy and healthy, that is all that matters!!
You Got This Mama!