Category Archives: Low Milk Supply

Low Milk Supply Eduction & Advice

Low Milk Supply

What Is Low Milk Supply?

Low milk supply is the common term for hypolactation, and it means that the mother is not able to produce enough breast milk to exclusively feed her baby and must supplement with formula or breast milk from another mother.

Do You Have Low Milk Supply?

Low milk supply will show up on the baby scale.

Low milk supply will show up on the baby scale.

In the card game poker, a “tell” is something a player does unconsciously whenever he or she gets  good cards or a bad cards. And while tells can reveal the secrets in the game of poker, there are many false tells in the area of low milk supply. For example, if a baby cries regularly after breastfeeding some mothers interpret that as baby is still hungry and not getting enough breast milk. And while that is a possibility. It’s also possible that baby is simply tired and wants to be put to bed or that baby’s tummy is uncomfortable and she needs to burp.

There’s really only two ways to tell if you have low milk supply. The first is if your baby is not gaining weight as expected. This usually means he’s not getting enough calories and that you have low milk supply. The other way to tell if you have low milk supply is to test your milk supply by conducting a feed weight test or a pump test. The feed weight test takes 24 hours and requires an accurate baby scale, while the pump test takes 4 hours and requires a good dual electric breast pump. Click the links to see how to do either test.

If You Have Low Milk Supply What Should You Do?

MotherhoodIf you have determined that you do have low milk supply, the first step is to make sure your baby is getting the proper amount of nutrition and calories by supplementing with formula or breast milk from another mother (friend, family member, or milk bank).

Once baby is getting the nutrition she needs, try to determine if there is a specific cause of your low milk supply. There are many causes of low milk supply and you could be affected by one or more. Start with our list of 27 causes of low milk supply. This article goes into each low milk supply cause and offers solutions for correcting the issue that may be holding your milk supply back from it’s full potential.

Low Milk Supply Treatments

After you have determined that you do have low milk supply and you’ve tried to investigate and correct anything that may be causing the low milk supply, the final set is to get treatment. Treatment options for low milk supply is a bad news / good news situation. The bad news is that there is no treatment option that works 100% of the time for every mom. A cure doesn’t exist. A magic pill doesn’t exist. Even prescription drugs don’t work for every mom and can have serious side effects such as deep depression.

The good news is that there is a treatment options for low milk supply that will either:

1. Work – your milk supply will increase significantly

OR

2. Not cost you a penny – a full, 100%, prompt refund is given to any customer who feels the product didn’t work.

Lactiful Supply Max has been shown to reverse low milk supply

Lactiful Supply Max has been shown to reverse low milk supply

What low milk supply treatment option either works or is free? It’s Lactiful Supply Max. What is it? It’s an all-natural, herb-based treatment. And it works! A 2012 observational study found that 75% of the women who took Lactiful Supply Max to increase breast milk production saw an increase. And for those who saw an increase the average increase in breast milk production was 14.8 ounces of additional breast milk produced per day per mom. You can learn all about Lactiful Supply Max and its treatment of low milk supply in just 30 seconds by clicking or tapping hereClick for more articles about how to increase milk supply

Low Supply Of Breastmilk

Causes Of Low Supply Of Breastmilk

Low supply of breastmilk will often show up on the baby scale.

Low supply of breastmilk will often show up on the baby scale.

There are many, many causes of low breastmilk supply which is the main reason it is so difficult to treat. Women who are struggling with low breastmilk supply see reviews or hear success stories from friends and other moms about a certain treatment, but when they try that same treatment it doesn’t increase their breastmilk supply at all. Why does this happen?

It’s because the moms had different underlying causes of low breastmilk supply and what worked for one mom, didn’t help the other. So the first step in treating a low supply of breastmilk is to try to determine why your breastmilk supply is low. What is the cause?

In the past, we’ve written in this blog about the 27 causes of low breastmilk supply and the information in that article and the articles that it links to is still the best way to investigate and pinpoint exactly what is causing your low supply of breastmilk and what to do about it.

Illness is cause of low brestmilk supply

Illness is cause of low brestmilk supply.

Causes range from baby-specific issues such as poor latch or being tongue-tied to mom-specific issues such as insufficient calories or water intake to thyroid disorder. So the first step is to do the research and if you can pinpoint the specific cause, follow the advice for correcting it. So go to the article on the 27 causes of low breastmilk supply first but then come back here for the next section, because once you fix the cause, you still will need to treat your low breastmilk supply.

Think of it this way: You have a bucket filled with water. This represents your breastmilk supply. But there’s a hole in your bucket and the water is leaking out. This is the cause of your low breastmilk supply. When you find and fix the cause, you’ve patched the bucket and it’s no longer leaking, however the amount of water in your bucket is still low – your breastmilk supply is still low and it will remain low until you put more water back in the bucket (treat your low breast milk supply).

Treatments For Low Supply Of Breastmilk

By now you should have tried to “patch your bucket” – meaning find your specific cause of low breastmilk supply and are now ready to “refill your bucket.” Please note that if you were not able to find a specific cause of your low breastmilk supply, you should still go ahead with the treatment described here.

pump after breastfeeding to treat low breastmilk supplyStep one is to let your body know that you want it to increase breastmilk supply. You do this by increasing the amount of breastmilk that removed and by increasing how often breastmilk is removed. Your body is “pre-programmed” to increase production when baby goes through regular growth spurts so we’ll use that built-in ability to increase production even through baby probably isn’t going through a growth spurt. Here’s how:

  1. Pump both breasts after each breastfeeding session for at least 7 minutes or until no more milk is coming out, whichever is longer.
  2. Pump or breastfeed about every 3 hours. If baby is sleeping, pump instead of breastfeeding.

Now that you’ve increased the amount of milk that’s being removed, your body is set to increase breastmilk production. The final step in conquering low breastmilk supply is to give your body a breastmilk booster, such as Lactiful Supply Max. This all-natural blend of 8 herbs was shown in a 2012 observational study to boost breastmilk supply in 75% of the women who tried it. How much of a boost? Of the women who saw an increase, the boosted their breastmilk production by 14.8 ounces of additional breastmilk per mom, per day!

In closing, if you are suffering from a low supply of breastmilk, begin by searching out the cause and if you find it, fixing it to the best of your ability. Next increase breastmilk removal and give your body a breastmilk production booster with a supplement like Lactiful Supply Max. You can learn more about Lactiful Supply Max in 30 seconds by going hereClick for more articles about how to increase milk supply

Help! I Need Breast Milk!

Q. I Need Breast Milk – Where Can I Get It?

A. The good news is there are many sources of breast milk and this article will cover them in detail. If you are a breastfeeding mother and are interested in producing more breast milk, we’ll cover that too at the end.

I need breast milk – here are the sources (fresh breast milk)

I need breast milk - fresh milkIf you need breast milk in a hurry or if you prefer fresh (not frozen) breast milk, one of the best sources is breastfeeding or exclusively pumping moms in your area. Often these moms can add a pumping session and produce an extra 4 to 8 ounces a day. How do you find them? First check family and friends. Are any of your relatives or close friends currently breastfeeding? If so let them know of your need for breast milk. If they have extra breast milk supply, most moms are willing to share their extra breast milk.

If you don’t know of any family or friends that are currently breastfeeding, it’s time to network. Do you have any family or friends that used to breastfeed or that have small children. These families are often in contact with other families of small children and will often provide an introduction after you explain your need for breast milk.

If networking still doesn’t turn up the needed breast milk, contact your local le leche league leader (say that five times fast!) and explain that you need breast milk. The leader can often put you in contact with a mom who is willing to pump extra breast milk.

No matter how you get the breast milk you need, you should first pasteurize it before giving it to your baby. See our article on how to pasteurize breast milk for complete directions.

I need breast – the sources for frozen breast milk

Frozen breast milk is often easier to get than fresh breast milk. Often moms will pump extra breast when their baby is young and store up a huge bank of breast milk in the freezer with the thought that when they return to work or school they will be able to tap into their freezer stash. Sometimes the don’t use all the breast milk and it there is extra breast milk available for anyone who wants it.

To find sources for frozen breast milk is very similar to finding sources for fresh breast milk. Start with your local family and friends and explain that you need breast milk. But you can also ask distant friends and relatives. Usually breast milk will stay frozen if it is shipped quickly (1 to 2 days) and is packed with ice or dry ice. If you can’t find a source for the breast milk you need, turn to your network, just like above and see if you can find a friend of a friend. And failing that contact your local le leche league leader.

If you’ve tried all of those sources and still need breast milk, there’s another source for frozen breast milk and that’s the milk bank. There are several milk banks around the country that collect donated breast milk, pasteurize it and freeze it for long term storage. If you don’t have a milk bank within driving distance, many milk banks will ship frozen breast milk overnight.

I need breast milk – and want to produce it myself!

If you need breast milk and want to produce it yourself, you can increase you can increase your breast milk production by following the suggestions on our article, the 11 ways to increase breast milk supplyClick for more articles about how to increase milk supply

Low Production of Breastmilk

How To Know If You Have a Low Production of Breastmilk

help-milk-supplyIt is common for many breastfeeding moms to worry if they have a low production of breastmilk because when breastfeeding there’s no way to see how much breastmilk baby is getting. So how do you know if you have low production?

The wrong way to tell if you have low breastmilk production is focusing on symptoms such as empty feeling breasts, or not being able to feel letdowns, or if baby is crying at the breast. Each of these symptoms could be a sign of low production of breastmilk, however they are not reliable indicators by themselves.

Empty feeling breasts can be normal when the body adjusts it’s production to match baby’s milk intake. And many women with very good breastmilk supplies do not feel letdowns. And finally, a baby crying at the breast could indicate a problem with reflux for simply an overstimulated or overtired baby.

So what’s the right way to tell if you have a low production of breastmilk?

There are two ways to tell if you have a low production of breastmilk:

  1. When your baby is not gaining weight as fast as baby should.
  2. When you test your milk production and find out you’re production of breastmilk is less than baby requires.

Baby weight gain

All babies follow a growth chart which shows how much a baby should weigh and measure at any point in the first few years of life. Of course, just as some adults are taller and some are shorter, the same is true of babies and this variance is taken into account. As long as you are having regular doctor visits for your baby, the doctor should be measuring and weighing baby and will alert you to any changes in your baby’s growth. As long as your doctor says your baby is gaining the right amount of weight, you don’t have a problem with low breastmilk production.

Testing your breastmilk production

Another way to tell if you have a low production of breastmilk is to test your production. There are two basic tests that you can do to measure how much breastmilk you are making in each 24 hour day. One test is called the feed weight test and for it you’ll weight baby before and after each breastfeeding session for an entire day. Adding up all the differences in weights will tell you how much breastmilk you are producing. The other test is the pump test and in it, you’ll pump both breasts 4 times over the course of 3 hours and this will tell you how much breastmilk you are producing in 24 hours. For detailed instructions on how to complete each of these tests, see our article on measuring your breastmilk production.

What To Do If You Have a Low Production of Breastmilk

If you’ve done one of the breastmilk production tests described above and found that you have low production of breastmilk or if a doctor or other health care professional has told you that your baby is not gaining weight as fast as he or she should, then you’ll want to take steps to increase your breastmilk production. We’ve written many articles on how to increase breastmilk production. The article, 11 ways to increase breastmilk supply is a good place to start. Click for more articles about how to increase milk supply

Not Making Enough Milk?

Breastfeeding moms can often be worried about not making enough milk and it’s completely understandable because there’s not a milk gauge preinstalled on each breast. Wouldn’t that be convenient?

Should You Be Concerned You Are Not Making Enough Milk?

Certain things like not feeling letdowns or breasts that don’t feel full can make a mom concerned she is not making enough milk. However usually these and symptoms like them are not good indicators of if you are making enough milk. Not feeling letdowns is common in many moms, even in moms with great milk supply and breasts often don’t feel full once they’ve balanced how much milk is being created with how much milk is being removed.

Instead you should be concerned that you are not making enough milk if your baby is not gaining weight as fast as he or she should be. A doctor can tell you if your baby’s growth is not following the growth chart in the way that it should. If your baby is continuing to grow and gain weight inline with their growth chart, the chances are that you are making enough milk.

How To Know For Certain If You Are Making Enough Milk

There is a simple two step method to determine for certain if you are making enough milk. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Accurately measure your daily milk production
  2. Compare your daily milk production to what your baby drinks each day

There are two reliable milk production tests that you can take. Either test will provide you with an accurate measure of your daily milk production. They are the feed weight test and the pump test. In the feed weight test you’ll breastfeed your baby as normal, but you’ll weigh baby immediately before and immediately after you breastfeed. You’ll do this for 24 hours then do a little fancy math with these numbers to get your daily milk production.

In the pump test you’ll pump on the hour 4 times over the course of 3 hours, then you’ll do some fancy math on those numbers to get your daily milk production. Each of these tests are described in detail in our breast milk production article.

Once you know exactly how much milk you are producing each day, compare that to how much milk a thriving baby typically drinks in 24 hours. If your baby is less than one month old, typical milk consumption is 17 to 24 ounces per day. If your baby is 1 to six months old typical milk consumption is 25 to 30 ounces per day.

What To Do If You’re Not Making Enough Milk

If you’ve completed one of the milk production tests and you’ve found that your are not making enough milk or if your baby is not gaining enough weight to stay on their projected growth line, you’ll want to take action to increase your milk supply.

Start by investigating the 27 causes of low milk supply. Perhaps there is something that is causing you to not make enough milk and fixing that will help your milk production.

Next, follow the suggestions in the 11 ways to increase milk supply article.

When you take the time to investigate and take action on your milk supply you’ll never again have to worry that you’re not making enough milk. Click for more articles about how to increase milk supply

Can I Produce More Breast Milk?

If you have been struggling for a while with low milk supply you may be asking yourself if you can produce more breast milk. That’s what this article aims to answer.

Can I Produce More Breast Milk?

It really depends on what the cause of your low milk supply is. About 70% percent of time women can produce more breast milk with the right combination of:

  • Finding and fixing the cause (if possible)
  • By frequently and completely removing breast milk
  • Taking an herbal supplement that boosts breast milk production

However the other 30% of time women can not produce more breast milk. Some irreversible causes of low milk supply include:

  • Insufficient glandular, milk-producing tissue – malnourishment or hormone issues through puberty can prevent milk-producing tissue to form.
  • Breast surgery – either breast reduction or breast enhancement can sever milk ducts preventing milk from leaving the breast.
  • Insufficient milk removal and breast stimulation during the first few weeks postpartum – during this critical time important hormone receptors are created and these have the effect of creating a ceiling for breast milk production. If baby had a bad latch or was hospitalized or other event prevented frequent milk removal or breast stimulation in the early weeks your milk supply may have a hormonal ceiling that will not allow you to produce more breast milk.

The chances are that the answer to the question, “Can I produce more breast milk?” is probably, YES! Here’s how:

What Is The Cause?

The first step in producing more breast milk is to determine, if possible, the cause of your low milk supply. We’ve created many articles on the causes of low milk supply and you can start your investigation with our overview article, The 27 Causes of Low Milk Supply (And what to do about them).

Hopefully you will be able to determine what your cause of low milk supply is and fix it. And just doing that may help you produce more breast milk, however if it doesn’t or if you can’t pin point the cause for low milk supply the next step is to be sure you are frequently and completely removing breast milk.

Milk production is based on the “rules” of supply and demand, because the body wants to match the amount of milk it is producing to the amount of milk that is being regularly removed. So the idea here is that you increase the demand on your milk supply by completely and frequently removing milk and you body will compensate by producing more breast milk.

Frequently Remove Milk

You should be removing milk, either by breastfeeding or pumping, every 2 to 3 hours during the waking hours from the start of one session to the start of another and every 4 hours during the sleeping hours.

Completely Remove Milk

If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll want to breastfeed on both sides each session, then pump both sides for an additional 10 minutes, or until milk stops flowing, whichever is longer. If you’re pumping you’ll want to continue to pump for 7 additional minutes after milk has stopped flowing. This additional pump time tells your body that it’s not producing enough milk.

Get Breast Milk Production “Protein”

Herbal treatments for milk production can be surprisingly effective: One study that followed lactating women who took Lactiful Supply Max found that 75% of the women saw an increase in milk production while taking the supplement.

Because there are so many causes for low milk production and because every mom’s situation is unique there’s no definitive answer we can give to the question of, “Can I produce more breast milk?” but we hope this article has given you the information you need to answer it for you. Click for more articles about how to increase milk supply

Low on Breast Milk Production?

Are you feeling that you are low on breast milk production? If so, this article will help you! The first step is to decide:

Are You Really Low on Breast Milk Production?

tongue-tiedOften with breastfeeding it is challenging to know how much breast milk your baby is getting because you can’t see what is going in. What you can’t see, you can’t measure and so it’s difficult to tell if you are low on breast milk production. But there are two tests that you can do and either one will tell you if you are low on breast milk production.

The first test is called the feed weight test. For this test you will need to buy, rent or borrow an accurate baby scale. Then for 24 hours you will weigh your baby right before breastfeeding and immediately right after breastfeeding. You’ll note the starting weight and the ending weight and you’ll subtract one from the other and it will tell you how much weight baby gained while breastfeeding. Baby didn’t actually gain weight, but is heavier by the amount of milk that baby breastfed.

You’ll follow this process for an entire 24 hour period and at after you finish, you’ll do some simple calcualtions and it will tell you exactly how much breast milk you are producing each day. You’ll compare that number to the number of ounces babies typically drink in a day (see below) and that will tell you if you are low on breast milk production.

This is an overview of the feed weight test. For complete instructions on measuring your milk supply, see this article on breast milk production.

The second test you can take to know for sure if you are low on breast milk production is the pump test. This test requires a good, high quality breast pump. Perhaps you already own a good breast pump that you are getting good milk output from, but if not you can rent a hospital grade pump from your local hospital or local WIC office. Once you have your pump, you’ll pump 4 times over a 3 hour period. You won’t be able to breastfeed your baby during the pump test so plan ahead. It is fine to give baby the milk you pump during your pump test.

You’ll write down your pumping output from each of the four pumping tests and after you finish, a few quick math equations will tell you exactly how much milk you are producing each day. And just like with the feed weight test, you’ll compare this number to how much milk a baby typically drinks during a day and this result will tell you if you are low on breast milk production!

This is just an overview of the pump test. For complete directions see this article on breast milk production.

Now that you know how much breast milk you are producing each day, it’s time to:

Compare Daily Breast Milk Production to Baby’s Daily Milk Intake

  • Babies 1 to 6 months old typically drink 25 to 30 ounces of breast milk each day. If you are producing less than this amount, then you are low on breast milk production.
  • Babies less than 1 month old typically drink 16 to 24 ounces of breast milk each day.
  • Babies that are eating solid foods such as baby cereal, applesauce or cheerios typically drink less breast milk because they are getting some of their daily calories from solid food. For each month baby has been eating solid foods subtract 1 to 2 ounces of require breast milk from each day.

Compare the amount of breast milk you are producing each day to what your baby’s daily milk intake is likely to be and if baby’s intake is more than the breast milk you are producing, then you are low on breast milk production.

If You Are Low on Breast Milk Production Read This

In general the faster low milk production is corrected, the easier and more complete the recovery. If you are low on breast milk production, get help fast by checking out these 11 ways to increase milk supplyClick for more articles about how to increase milk supply

Low Milk Supply And Your Next Baby

Preparing For Your Next Baby When You Have Struggled With Low Milk Supply In The Past

If you have struggled with low milk supply with one or more previous babies, you probably know there is a good chance you might have low milk supply problems with your next baby. Rather than hope for the best, take maters into your own hands so that breastfeeding can get off to the best start possible. This article is all about what you can do to ensure breastfeeding success for your next child.

Before Baby Is Born

The first step is to review the 27 causes of low milk supply. If your low milk supply is caused by any of these, the fix can be fairly easy and quick. If hyperthyroidism was the cause, your doctor can treat it with medication throughout your pregnancy. If inverted nipples was the cause, you can use the Avent Niplette. Or if PCOS was the cause, your doctor can prescribe metformin.

There are many, many more causes of low milk supply and information about how to fix them is in the linked article above.

Next, if you took herbs to increase your milk supply with an earlier child, you should consider planting an herb garden of those herbs you took last time. The best herbs are often those you grow yourself because you have complete control over the soil, planting, fertilizing and harvesting. If you’re not due for 2 or more months, consider starting your own personal lactation herbal garden or if gardening is not your thing, order an herbal blend, such as Lactiful Supply Max, so it is on hand.

?Once you’re pregnant with your next child and have reviewed the causes of low milk supply and considered starting your own herb garden, it’s time to be proactive and take herbs that help prepare your milk supply. Here are the herbs that will get your supply off to the best start:

Alfalfa
Use: General milk increase
Contraindications: Lupus and other autoimmune disorders
Sources: Health food stores, online

Saw Palmetto
Use: Hormone balancing, increase breast tissue
Contraindications: None
Sources: Some health food stores, online

Goat’s Rue
Use: General milk increase, glandular tissue generation
Contraindications: Diabetics
Sources: Some health food stores, online

In the second and third trimesters take Alfalfa and Saw Palmetto:

Alfalfa – Take 1 tablet (500 Mg) three times a day with meals.
Saw Palmetto – Take 1 capsule (540 Mg) in the morning and 1 capsule at night.

In the third trimester also take Goat’s Rue.

Goat’s Rue – Take 1 capsule (500 mg) 4 times per day but with only a small amount of water (1 to 2 ounces). Additionally, avoid all liquids 20 minutes before and after each dose.

Next, prepare your home, your mind and your life for your new baby. Are there any home projects you should finish before baby arrives? Getting any projects done before baby arrives will give you more time to breastfeed the new baby. Preparing and freezing meals reduces stress and workload after baby arrives.

If you work, are you able to bank up hours at work and extend your maternity leave? Can you set up a work-from-home agreement with your employer and have more time to spend with baby?

If you have a pump, consider if you need to buy a new one. Often suction power decreases after a year of average use. If you don’t own a pump, perhaps now is a good time to purchase one.

Once you reach week 36 in your pregnancy, begin pumping once a day for 10 minutes (as long as this is okay with your health care provider). Each week add a new 10 minute pumping session. Spread out the sessions as much as you can. For instance in week 38 pump once in the morning and once at night. In week 39 pump morning, afternoon and night. Don’t worry if no milk is expressed during these pumping sessions. The purpose of this pre-birth pumping is not to generate milk but to stimulate the breasts and let them know it’s almost showtime. Early stimulation increases the number of breastfeeding hormone receptors that are established which sets your milk production ceiling or maximum milk production. We want your maximum milk production set as high as possible.

After Baby Is Born

Once baby is born breastfeed as soon as possible. Within 30 minutes is ideal, but it should be no more than an hour. Put this in your birth plan so your medical team knows your wishes.

Be sure to breastfeed every time baby cries and let no more than 3 hours pass from the start of one breastfeeding session to the start of the next. Treat 3 hours as the maximum allowed time between the start of one session and the start of the next, even if you have to wake baby. Better yet, aim to breastfeed every 2 to 2 and a half hours to better your chances of maximizing your milk supply. Continue this strategy until baby is at least 6 weeks old.

Every time you breastfeed be sure baby breastfeeds on both breasts. Alternate which side you start on with each nursing. Aim for 10 minutes of active nursing before switching to the other side. Tickle baby’s cheeks and toes to keep him alert and really actively nursing for a minimum of 10 minutes, then switch to the other side (if baby is still actively nursing continue to nurse on the same side until baby settles into comfort sucking – do not automatically switch at 10 minutes – that’s a minimum, not a maximum). See our article on not allowing a sleepy baby to leave milk in your breasts for tips to encourage a sleepy baby to breastfeed actively.

After each time you breastfeed, pump for 7 minutes on each side or until milk stops flowing.

On day four, begin taking your herbal supplement. You may wish to start with a lower than recommended dose and build up to a full dose over the course of a week so that you can gently ease your body into the herbs.

If you suffer from engorgement when your milk comes in do not use cabbage leaves to relieve the symptoms as this can also reduce your milk supply.

And finally, see our article index for many, many helpful articles about low milk supply, pumping and breastfeeding.

The good news is that breastfeeding and milk supply generally get better with each successive child. That coupled with these recommended preparations are sure to give you a much better breastfeeding experience with your new baby! Best of luck to you and your family and congratulations on your pregnancy! heart-logo

Coping With Low Milk Supply

Breastfeeding is difficult for some mothers. I know. At times I’ve felt jealous, inadequate, overwhelmed, angry, lonely, afraid and even depressed. If you have been struggling with low milk, only to have to give up in the end, can be heartbreaking. This article is all about strategies for coping.

Before my first child was born, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed exclusively. I read a few books, such as The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and expected breastfeeding to be fairly easy.

Was I ever wrong.

The trouble wasn’t so much what happened or how it happened. The trouble was my expectations. Had I expected breastfeeding to be difficult and known in advance that I’d have to pump a lot and take herbs, eat a special diet, breastfeed frequently and so on I’d have handled the whole situation a lot better.

Expectations, either yours or your family’s, are often very hard to live up to. So the first step in coping with low milk supply is to adjust your expectations. Accept that life is not fair and that at times, you’re dealt a really crummy hand. Just remember, you’re in control of how you play that hand.

I’ve known plenty of moms that threw in their cards and gave up breastfeeding. That’s one option.

I’ve known other moms who became obsessed with increasing their milk supply and saw their doctor for hormone screening, supplemented nursing by using a periodontal syringe.They completely changed their diet, took herbal supplements, pumped and nursed like mad and found a way to bring their supply back.

I’ve known other moms who gave it their best shot, but still had to supplement. They found a way to be happy with breastfeeding as much as they were able. For them, some breast milk was better than none. And simply being able to continue the loving connection of breastfeeding was priceless and something they’ve treasured for years.

How you choose to play your cards is your own decision. And I know you’ll make the right decision for you, your baby and your family. How can I say that? By simply finding this article, I know a bit about you. I know you have courage, perseverance and tenacity because that’s what it takes to fight low milk supply. I know how deeply you are committed to giving the very best to your baby.

I know some days it may be hard to believe it, but these qualities make you an amazing mom and a wonderful human being. I have no doubt that you will raise your baby into a delightful child and guide him or her successfully into adolescence and adulthood. You already have all the tools. Love. Courage. Compassion. Tenacity.

Someday, probably before you’re ready, you’ll be putting this baby on the bus for his or her first day of school. And in the blink of an eye you’ll watch as your baby graduates from high school. And then college. There as so many joys on their way to you, so try to not dwell on the difficulties of today.

Don’t think about what you could not do, think about what you have done. You have breastfed. You have fought for your child. And while there are many sources of nutrition for your baby, there’s only one mother who will love him, hold him when he scrapes his knee, provide guidance, and care for him in every way.

In the long run, it’s not about how many ounces of milk flow out of your breasts. It’s about how much love flows from your heart. heart-logo

4 Common Mistakes That Lead To Low Milk Supply

There are several common mistakes that moms make that reduce the number of feedings or leaves milk in the breasts, both of which will result in lower milk supply. They are:

  • Feeding on a Schedule
  • Giving a relief bottle at night or skipping night time feedings
  • Allowing a sleepy baby to leave milk in your breasts
  • Not nursing or pumping when your breasts don’t feel full

Feeding On A Schedule

A rigid feeding schedule will often lead to low supply because a mother’s body doesn’t work like a clock – it doesn’t produce milk at a constant rate throughout the day.

A mother’s body typically produces more milk in the morning, and less as the day goes on. This is normal. Therefore, as evening nears it’s normal for baby to ask for more frequent feedings. Often times mothers make the mistake of thinking – he just breastfed, it can’t be that – and will fail to offer the breast again, when really baby is compensating for less milk being available by breastfeeding more often. Often times also, babies will do what is called “cluster feeding” to “tank up” for a longer sleep cycle. Whenever baby is fussy, offer the breast. Even if he only nurses for a few minutes, this is good stimulation for your breasts and may be giving baby exactly what he needs. See our full article on the “evils” of feeding by the clock.

Giving A Relief Bottle At Night Or Skipping Night Time Feedings

Some very helpful daddies will offer to take on the role of nighttime feeder and give relief bottles so mom can get a full night’s rest. A full night’s rest is terrific, but you have to remember the number one reason for low milk supply is not breastfeeding often enough. When you go a whole night without removing any milk, it tells your body that it’s overproducing and milk production will get cut.

The only way to avoid that terrible outcome and still have daddy give a night time relief bottle is to pump the same amount of milk that baby is consuming at the same ?time he is taking the bottle – in the middle of the night! At that point you and dad are both up, so dad will be tired and less helpful to you the next day. Furthermore baby may become confused by artificial bottle nipples and flow differences which will only create more breastfeeding challenges. In short, if you and dad are both up in the night, it defeats the purpose of a relief bottle and may just confuse baby.

Tips for nighttime feedings:

  • Try not to resent needing to get up with your little one. Perhaps try to think of this temporary time, as a gift you give to your baby. Interestingly, mother’s who fight nighttime feedings tend to feel more tired in the morning than those who give themselves over to this short term need.
  • Keep an early bedtime for yourself.
  • Experiment. Some mothers find that they feel more rested if they just bring baby to bed with them and nurse while side-lying, and just sleep while baby nurses. On the other hand, some mothers find they are not able to allow themselves to get into a deep sleep or get truly comfortable with baby in bed with them, and they find it better to get up and be fully awake and ensure that baby is actively nursing the entire time, and then return to bed after nursing is done.

Try both and see which works best for you. Please note however, if baby has had any difficulty with latching on, or is having difficulty with weight gain, it is highly recommended that you sit fully upright and try to stay awake for the duration of the nursing session and ensure that baby maintains a proper latch for the entire time. Side-lying nursing can be difficult to get a proper latch, and if you are drifting to sleep it is easy for baby to slip the latch. This is important if you’ve struggled with latch issues because baby may again get used to the feeling of a poor latch. Also, for weight gain, it is important to ensure that baby is actively nursing, and to use hand compressions at every opportunity.

Allowing A Sleepy Baby To Leave Milk In Your Breasts

You may have heard the saying, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” Although it may be tempting to let your little bundle of joy sleep for long stretches, it is very important to wake them up at least every three hours to nurse. I know, because with my first, I didn’t do this. He was so colicky and hard to get back to sleep that there was no way I was going to wake him up and face the crying again. Little did I know that if I had woken him up it would have improved his mood and his health.

With my second child, I did things differently. I woke her up diligently every 3 hours without fail and she hit all of her milestones. She was such a happy, healthy little baby. Sometimes it is almost impossible to wake up a sleeping baby for frequent breastfeeding. Here?s some specific things you can try to get more active participation from babies who sleep a lot, or are mellow about nursing:

Do a diaper change: Even if baby doesn’t need one – getting baby completely naked wakes baby up and it goes hand-in-hand with the next suggestion. Be sure baby is good and awake before starting to nurse, otherwise slumber will just settle right back in.

Skin-to-skin time: Undress your baby down to the diaper before nursing and go braless (wear a button-down shirt that can be fully unbuttoned). This wakes up and energizes your baby for a good nursing session.

Play games: Stimulate baby to stay awake by tickling toes, feet and face and playing with him. Some babies can get distracted by this, but most will smile or giggle and latch back on to continue nursing. It can be a lot of fun and can help baby to more actively participate in nursing.

When all else fails to wake baby: Please don’t think I’m cruel! Get a wash cloth wet with cool water, and rub it on the back of baby’s neck – he won’t like it, but this trick works almost every time.

Once baby is good and wake, be sure he is removing as much milk as possible by:

Switch nursing: Start on one side and carefully watch for when your baby goes from feeding to comfort sucking. When you suspect comfort sucking, take your baby off and put him on the other side. Again watch for the switch to comfort sucking then switch back to the first side. Watch again and switch to the second side to finish up. It?s helpful to burp baby or change the diaper between switches to help wake baby up.

Double nursing: Instead of switch nursing you can try double nursing. To double nurse, feed your baby like usual on both sides without letting him or her fall asleep. Then walk about with your baby upright for 10 minutes to get all the bubbles and burps out to make room for more milk. Then nurse your baby again on both sides before letting him drift off to sleep.

Not Nursing Or Pumping If Your Breasts Don’t Feel Full

When it has been a long time since milk has been removed, the breasts become fuller and concentrations of a whey protein called “feedback inhibitor of lactation” or FIL increase. The higher the level of FIL, the lower the level of milk production.

An engorged breast generally equals a high concentration of FIL, and therefore can lead very quickly from an oversupply, to an undersupply. Do not wait to nurse or pump until your breasts “feel full.” Also, for many women this “full feeling” goes away as their baby grows, so do not use the fullness of your breasts as an indicator of when to nurse or pump.

Avoid these 4 common mistakes that lead to low milk supply and you are that much more likely to have a successful breastfeeding relationship!