Learning to breastfeed can be an unexpected challenge for many new moms as you and your baby get used to the new experience. While there's no doubt that it is a beautiful way to bond with your little one, it's normal to have questions and concerns. One of the most common revolves around your milk supply and whether you have enough to feed your baby sufficiently.
Lactation consultants can be a great help, teaching you different nursing positions and helping ensure your baby latches correctly.
They can also diagnose possible lip or tongue ties, making breastfeeding difficult for your baby. A lactation consultant can put your mind at ease regarding your milk production, letting you know if you are creating enough milk to nourish your little one. However, if you do suffer from a low supply, there are ways you can help increase the amount of milk you produce. With the guidance of lactation consultants, we've created a guide to help you understand your milk supply, including tips to help increase it.
How Much Milk Should You Produce?
Milk production differs widely between women, so there isn't a set number you should produce at any stage of feeding. According to the Motif Medical Lactation Director, Ashley Georgakopoulos, "The calories [in breast milk] change with the baby, and that means the amount given does not change much, just the concentration." Since breastfeeding differs from formula feeding, you cannot compare the volume of liquid between the two.
For example, an 8-month-old formula-fed infant needs six to eight ounces of formula every four to five hours, while a breastfed baby of the same age may need less milk with more frequent feedings. Both methods vary widely1, so it's impossible to compare them. The good news is your baby doesn't need large amounts of breastmilk to get the calories and nutrients they need. Your body generally knows what your baby needs and produces the milk accordingly. If you are concerned about your little one receiving enough milk, contact your pediatrician to assess their overall growth.
How Do I Know If My Baby Is Getting Enough Milk?
One of the most incredible things about breastfeeding is how your body automatically adjusts its supply to meet your baby's needs. Certified Lactation Specialist Kathryn Roy states, "Babies' needs also vary with age, growth spurts, time of day, mental developmental milestones, and sleep patterns, among a myriad of other reasons—all affecting your supply." While this fluctuation is fascinating, knowing if you're producing enough to meet your baby's needs can be tricky.
The clearest indication of whether you have an adequate supply is your baby's growth. According to Roy, "If your baby is gaining an appropriate amount of weight for her age, as confirmed by the pediatrician, if your baby has regular wet diapers and healthy, regular poops, your body is likely producing everything your baby needs." However, if you notice that your baby is falling behind on the growth chart and seems unsatisfied after meals, your supply may be low. It's important to always speak to a healthcare professional with these concerns, as they can give you an official diagnosis.
Related reading Breastfeeding FAQs: How Do I Know My Baby Is Getting Enough to Eat?to help you know the theme better.
Possible Causes for a Low Milk Supply
How often your baby eats directly determines your supply during the first months of breastfeeding. Your body is figuring itself out, which makes on-demand feeding essential to increasing your milk supply. At about four months, your body switches, and the amount your baby eats becomes the driving factor behind your milk production. An average woman requires around eight feedings daily to maintain her supply, but this amount can vary by person. Let's look at some of the top causes of a low milk supply.
Certain supplements and medications like birth control can reduce milk supply. Over-the-counter drugs like Sudafed, which contain pseudoephedrine, can also impact how much milk your body produces. Before taking any medicines, be sure to consult with your doctor.
While rare, some health conditions like PCOS can impact your milk supply. Excessive alcohol consumption, severe anemia, hormone imbalances, placenta retention, and prior breast surgery may also affect milk production.
Stress may inhibit milk production since it prompts the release of adrenaline, which inhibits oxytocin, the hormone responsible for promoting milk flow. The good news is that stress-related supply issues generally resolve once you remove the stressor and calm your mind and body.
Access into How To Deal With Low Breast Milk Supply? to get more reasons and tips for low breast milk.
Tips for Increasing Milk Supply
While there are different reasons your supply may be low, you can use these tips to help promote milk production.
1. Breast Stimulation
Stimulating the breast is essential for milk production, as it sends signals to your brain to release stored milk. You can effectively stimulate your breasts in multiple ways, like nursing more frequently, pumping between nursing sessions, and massaging the breast before, during, and after breastfeeding or pumping. Nipple stimulation paired with milk removal signals to the brain the amount of milk it needs to produce, making this an effective way to increase supply.
Note - It can take five to seven days to noticeably increase your milk supply with consistent breast stimulation, so be patient and persistent.
2. Check Your Baby's Latch
A good latch is essential to successful breastfeeding; it will ensure your baby receives enough milk, prevent excess nipple soreness, and stimulate your body to produce milk. A good latch should be pain-free, with your baby's mouth open around the breast, not just the nipple and their lips out.
3. Empty Both Breasts
Be sure to offer your baby both breasts at each feeding, allowing them to empty them completely. Since the amount your baby eats determines your supply, you want to encourage them to drain each breast at every feeding.
4. Sleep and Drink Water
Dehydration can significantly reduce your supply, especially when paired with sleep deprivation. Increase your water intake throughout the day and rest when your baby sleeps. Taking care of your body is essential to promoting sufficient milk production.
5. Introduce Pumping
Pumping in between feedings can help stimulate the breasts and encourage milk production. You may not get a lot of milk at first, but it will help signal to your body that it needs to increase supply, ensuring ample production when nursing. You can also use the milk you expel during pumping to supplement your baby if they are still hungry after nursing.
Low milk supply can be frustrating, but there are ways to help increase production naturally. At Momcozy, we are dedicated to empowering moms with quality products designed with you in mind. We proudly offer breastfeeding essentials, including pumps, nursing bras, accessories, and baby care products that promote your little one's comfort and health. At Momcozy, we're with you every step of the way.Know more about pumping: Is Breast Pump Good for the Breast?