Diminishing Milk Supply
Most women are able to produce enough breastmilk for their baby to thrive on; however, there are times when mothers begin to question whether their milk supply is diminishing. Concern over whether their milk supply is sufficient is one of the main reasons mothers stop breastfeeding or expressing milk.
Situations that cause mothers to believe that their supply is low
Baby is nursing or feeding more frequently. During growth spurts, babies begin to feed or nurse more frequently so mothers often think that the baby isn’t getting enough milk at each feeding.
Breasts are not leaking any milk. Milk leakage is not directly related to your supply. Leaking will stop naturally once your body adjusts to your baby’s feeding needs.
Your breasts feel softer and are no longer full or engorged. This is not a sign of decreased milk supply. Just like milk leakage, engorgement will subside once your body is able to regulate milk production in relation to your baby’s nutritional needs.
You are only able to pump little or no milk. The amount of milk that you are able to pump is not a good measure of your milk supply. Pumping requires skill and practice. If you are unable to pump sufficient amounts of milk, you should try to relax more while pumping and adjust your pump settings to find the best speed and suction levels for you.
Ways to increase your supply
Pump more frequently if you are expressing milk for your baby’s feedings. Pumping from both breasts simultaneously can also help to increase your milk production.
Nurse more often and in various positions, if you are exclusively breastfeeding. It is also a good idea to offer both breasts at each feeding.
Avoid supplementing feedings with formula, water, or juice if your baby is 6 months old or younger. Each supplemental feeding that is given to your baby, lessen the amount of breastmilk that your baby is taking, which signals to your body that the baby needs less milk.
Make sure that you are taking good care of yourself. Eat a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids, and get adequate rest each day.
Take an herbal galactagogue to increase your milk production and continue to empty your breasts by nursing or pumping. Some common herbal galactagogues include fenugreek, fennel, milk thistle, and chamomile.
As long as your baby is gaining weight well from breastmilk alone, your milk supply is plentiful, but if you are concerned that your milk supply has begun to diminish, you should consult with your lactation consultant or healthcare professional. Your doctor or LC will be able to determine if your milk production has slowed down and help you choose the most effective way to increase and maintain your milk supply.
Visit La Leche League International’s website to learn more about adequate milk supply.
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